Fifteen years ago, Tom Cruise faced a career slump caused by a series of controversial public incidents. However, his role in the latest Mission: Impossible film and his status as one of the highest-grossing lead actors of all time have catapulted him back into the spotlight. It is hard to imagine now, but back then, Cruise’s career seemed to be falling out of favor.
In 2006, Cruise became a PR nightmare, dominating headlines for all the wrong reasons. One such incident was his infamous couch-jumping stunt during an interview with Oprah. Instead of promoting Steven Spielberg’s film War of the Worlds, Cruise decided to declare his love for fellow actor Katie Holmes in an overly enthusiastic manner. The clip went viral thanks to YouTube, causing a reported feud with Spielberg, who believed that Cruise’s behavior had negatively impacted the movie’s success.
That same year, Cruise faced heavy criticism for his remarks about Brooke Shields. He accused her of spreading “irresponsible misinformation” about antidepressants, which she had taken to treat her postpartum depression. Cruise engaged in a heated discussion on The Today Show, where he went as far as branding Shields “dangerous.” Medical experts warned that his comments risked increasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Shields later revealed that Cruise personally apologized to her, and she was impressed by his heartfelt apology during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Despite being ranked as the world’s most powerful celebrity by Forbes, Cruise was rapidly losing favor with Hollywood. Paramount Studios even cut ties with him, citing his public behavior as one of the reasons for their decision.
However, Cruise made a comeback in 2008 with a cameo role in the box office hit Tropic Thunder. His portrayal of the balding, expletive-uttering movie executive Les Grossman was well-received. Director Ben Stiller revealed that it was Cruise’s own idea to play the character and introduced Les to the movie. Cruise fully embraced the role, donning a fat suit, prosthetic hands, and a bald cap. The audience didn’t realize it was Cruise until the end credits rolled.
Tropic Thunder was a controversial film, with Robert Downey Jr. wearing blackface for his role. Cruise’s character, Grossman, was also heavily scrutinized for being heavily coded as Jewish and depicted in a grotesque manner. Despite the controversies, Cruise’s performance in the film resurrected his career and showcased his comedic talent in addition to his action skills.
Since then, fans have been clamoring for Cruise to reprise the role of Les Grossman. There have been reports that Cruise and his regular collaborator Christopher McQuarrie are working on bringing the character back. This further solidifies Cruise’s remarkable career resurgence and his ability to overcome setbacks through his talent and dedication to his craft.