Tom Cruise began his acting career when he moved to New York City with his stepfather and mother to pursue acting. He first found a job as a busboy in Los Angeles, where he later went to try out for television roles and landed a contract with CAA. His first film appearance was a supporting role in the 1981 movie “Endless Love.”
In 1983, he was part of the ensemble cast of The Outsiders before he landed a major role playing Maverick in the 1986 film Top Gun, which was described as a “career-maker” and a “classic for the X Generation” for Tom Cruise. It was then followed by his appearances in Risky Business and All the Right Moves, where he took on a really significant role in his career.
Top Tom Cruise Films of the 80s
1. Top Gun (1986)
At the Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, they are given the opportunity to train at the US Navy’s School for Fighter Weapons. Together, Anthony Edwards, Bradshaw “Goose” Nick, and his best friend, along with Mitchel “Maverick” Pete Lieutenant, a young naval pilot, work off the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. This film is directed by Tony Scott and produced in association with Paramount Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and maintained its popularity throughout the 80s. Despite mixed reviews, the film grossed $356 million in the US with just a $15 million budget. Most audiences loved Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise’s acting performances and the aerial stunts, as well as the action scenes and special effects. However, critics had mixed reviews after the release of Top Gun.
Interesting fact: a follow-up, Top Gun: Maverick, will be launched on July 2, 2021, after being delayed twice because of COVID-19.
2. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
The film “Born on the Fourth of July,” directed by Oliver Stone and based on Ron Kovic’s 1976 autobiography of the same name, is a biographical war drama that spans over a period of 20 years in Kovic’s life. The story covers his childhood, military service, paralysis during the Vietnam War, and his transition into anti-war activism.
After reshoots, which ended up costing $17.8 million, Bregman and Kovic, who were played by Al Pacino and Tom Cruise respectively, exceeded their initial budget of $14 million. The film, which was directed by Oliver Stone and featured exceptional performances by Cruise and Pacino, received critical acclaim for its story upon its release.
The movie was largely successful at the box office, grossing over $161 million worldwide, despite going over budget. Additionally, the film won four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture, and Best Motion Picture Drama.
3. Rain Man (1988)
Susanna is Tom Cruise’s girlfriend and stars alongside Valeria Golino as well. The only items left for Charlie, whose beloved father’s car and rosebushes were his only possessions, were those he didn’t even know belonged to his estranged and deceased father. Charlie is an autistic savant, and his other son, Raymond, whom Charlie didn’t even know existed, inherited his father’s multi-million dollar home. The movie “Rain Man,” directed and written by Barry Levinson, features Charlie, a young wheeler-dealer named Babbitt, and the abrasive Man Morrow Ronald Rain Bass, all portrayed by Tom Cruise.
Rain Man, which secured the highest revenue in 1988, emerged victorious at the 61st Academy Awards in March 1989 by clinching four Oscars, namely Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading role for Hoffman, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture. Furthermore, the film crew garnered four additional nominations. The movie also triumphed in claiming the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.
4. Risky Business (1983)
Joel Cruise, a young and innocent boy, lives in Glencoe, a wealthy North Shore suburb of Chicago, with his parents. “Risky Business” is a film directed and written by Paul Brickman, starring Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.
Joel additionally phoned and extended an invitation to Lana, an alternative sex worker, who provided Joel with the contact information prior to her departure. However, Joel compensated her to depart, a transgender individual who coincidentally was the one he contacted on his behalf. Miles, his companion, intervenes and arranges for a sex worker to be contacted on Joel’s behalf, but Joel’s upcoming prospects hold tremendous significance to him.
She took the expensive Steuben glass egg from his mother’s home and stole it, then she left to go to the bank. He didn’t have any money on hand, so the following morning he asked her for $300 for her services. She was a young, gorgeous blonde who fooled him around for the rest of the night.
The film had a great presentation with a budget of $6.2 million, grossing over $63 million. It explored themes of materialism and capitalism in the context of the coming age of innocence and loss.
5. The Color of Money (1986)
The Color of Money, a drama film directed by Martin Scorsese based on Walter Tevis’ 1984 novel, follows the journey of Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson, a pool hustler and stake horse, as he introduces a student to the world of scamming others in pool halls. The screenplay, written by Richard Price in collaboration with Touchstone Pictures, delves into the ongoing narrative of Felson’s life.
When Eddie meets Vincent, a talented green Lauria, he proposes a partnership. Eventually, Eddie grows frustrated with Vincent’s showboat antics, which leads to a major argument and fallout between the two. Soon, Eddie takes up playing as Vincent’s opponent again and takes him on. Vincent’s frustrated grows as he takes Eddie’s tricks of scamming and teaches him through various pool halls.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Actor, as well as the Best Actor awards from the National Board of Review and the National Review Board, grossing $52.3 million with a budget of $13.8 million.
6. All the Right Moves (1983)
Stefan must fight for the chance to live out his dream and escape from a future dead-end. He’s been blacklisted by college recruiters and booted from the football team by his coach, Nelson T. Craig, after a heated argument between them. But Moves Right the All, directed by Michael Chapman, is a sports drama about Stefan Djordjevic, a star player from his small hometown of Ampipe, PA, who will move him out and earn his talents for the high school football team. (Cruise)
The film did not win any awards or get nominated, while grossing over $17 million at the box office with a budget of $5.6 million.
7. Legend (1985)
Most describe this film as a dark fairy tale, originating from the ancient times of oral tradition and returning even more original. Legend, directed by Ridley Scott, is an epic dark fantasy adventure story revolving around Jack, a pure being who must stop the Lord of Darkness and his plans to cover the world in eternal darkness.
When the movie was first released, it did not achieve commercial success, although it was also nominated for a number of other awards. It did, however, win the Best Cinematography Award from the British Society of Cinematographers.
However, despite being nominated in various categories, the movie only earned $23.5 million, which fell short of its $24.5 million budget.
Tom Cruise’s Films with Minor Roles
1. The Outsiders (1983)
Joel had a risky business role in which he starred as a landowner who didn’t have a strong role while Tom Cruise helped him. The film, inspired by the 80s genre known as Brat Pack, depicts a rivalry between two gangs: the rich Socs and the poor Greasers. The film also stars Diane Lane, Ralph Maccio, Patrick Swazy, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe, including up-and-coming young artists such as Thomas C. Howell, who won an Artist Young Award. The inspiration to make the film came from Coppola’s time at Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno, CA, where he saw various stars in the making. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Outsiders is based on the 1967 novel by S. E. Hinton.
The movie grossed $33.7 million at the box office with a budget of only $10 million. Macchio, in particular, was singled out for praise, with most movie critics giving positive reviews for his acting performances.
2. Taps (1981)
Cruise had a supporting role in the film Taps, directed by Harold Becker. This was his second film role, while his first film role was in Sean Penn’s film, Playing David Shawn. The film revolves around a group of military school students, and it features Timothy Hutton and George C. Scott in prominent roles.
He achieved his major breakthrough in Risky Business, portraying the character Joel, all thanks to this movie, along with another film, Endless Love. However, it was specifically this film.
With a budget of just $14 million, the film earned nearly $36 million at the box office.
3. Endless Love (1981)
The movie The Love Endless, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and based on the novel written by Spencer Scott in 1979, also featured Tom Cruise in a minor role as Billy. Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt starred in this 80s romantic drama.
The story revolves around a 15-year-old girl who is committed to a psychiatric hospital and sets fire to her family’s home, which frustrates her parents’ disapproval of her romantic involvement with a love-obsessed couple.
Alongside five Grammy Award nominations, the tune additionally garnered a nomination for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award in the category of “Best Original Song.” The signature melody of the movie became a chart-topping success on the Billboard Hot 100, while the film was unfavorably contrasted to the book, which highlighted the perils of all-consuming affection and received negative critiques.
Tom Cruise’s Less Successful Films
1. Cocktail (1988)
Heywood Gould’s novel “Cocktail” is based on the story of Brian Flanagan, a young business student living in NYC whose dream is to go into marketing. While trying to raise money to open his own bar in Jamaica, where he fell in love with the beautiful artist Elisabeth Shue, he ends up falling out with his boss Doug Coughlin, a veteran bartender who teaches him how to bartend to pay for college. Until they have a falling out, Flanagan and Coughlin work together, showing off their special tricks and charisma, and bringing in large crowds and tips. The 80s romantic comedy was directed by Roger Donaldson.
One critic had remarked that Cocktail, a superficial and uneventful love story, wastes Tom Cruise’s abilities in a simplistic bartender’s mundane daydream. Despite its financial success, grossing more than $171.5 million, the film received extremely negative feedback from critics.
2. Losin’ It (1983)
This American-Canadian film, directed by Chris Hanson, takes place in Los Angeles in the 1950s, where a group of teenagers is on their way to Tijuana, Mexico. Among them is Kathy, a young woman named Kathy, who wants a quick divorce from her husband so she can quickly find herself in a series of troubles and adventures. Along the way, they stop to buy fireworks from Wendell, a man named Woody, and Spider, a man named Dave. The group is trying to lose their virginity, and this involves them in various challenges and experiences.
This film received a ton of negative reviews from critics and has a 20% score on Rotten Tomatoes according to 10 reviews.