How odd that our shiniest celebrity, the man whose image once flashed most easily into our heads when we thought of the words “movie star,” a man who, throughout his career, has grappled with all sorts of questions of privacy and secrecy and image control and damage control, has somehow emerged at this late date as the movie world’s most unlikely symbol of old-fashioned authenticity... By the time the young Cruise pervaded our consciousness in “Risky Business” in 1983, he seemed already too famous, too swoon-inducing to even go to the shopping mall unmolested. By the time he was entangled with Kelly McGillis in “Top Gun” in 1986, he was on full celebrity-lockdown. He seemed to live entirely behind the golden gates of Hollywood. Go ahead, try to picture in your mind’s eye Tom Cruise in a normal environment of any kind, anywhere, doing anything normal. For that matter, try to imagine him not smiling. So the fog of secrecy that has always surrounded him came to seem natural, even inevitable. He’s so weird, right? Remember that jumping on the couch? It seemed like he was being coached by a publicist on how to act like a human in love. Or have you heard that he may interview prospective wives in his living room? (Though how would you date if you were Tom Cruise? JDate?) Maybe he wears lifts. Maybe he has Xenu on speed dial. Though let me suggest that if we’re not insisting that Mel Gibson show up to award shows muzzled and restrained to a dolly, Hannibal Lecter-style, then perhaps we should just give Cruise some peace for his religious beliefs... By all accounts, he is the hardest-working megastar in the business. A man who seems to understand that for the ridiculous rate of compensation he receives, he’ll do anything that’s asked of him: the smallest talk show, the hardest stunt, the most intense run. Hard work equals success equals hard work in a loop forever. Authenticity equals value. These colors don’t run. Tom Cruise runs. You get my point. And sure, not all of the films will be bull’s-eyes. But taken together, they prove we still need him. We need Tom Cruise! (more at link)
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