Ten Best Tom Cruise Movie Characters
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Ten Best Tom Cruise Movie Characters

The ten best Tom Cruise movie characters include Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July, Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, Vincent Lauria in The Color of Money, Maverick in Top Gun, Mitch McDeere in The Firm, Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire, Stefen Djordjevic in All the Right Moves and Cadet Captain David Shawn in Taps.

Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise has made his share of blockbuster films. Born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in Syracuse, New York, on July 3, 1962. Cruise made his motion picture debut as Billy in Endless Love (1981).

Here are the ten best Tom Cruise movie characters. It's beautiful, man!

Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July (Universal, 1989)

Tom Cruise appears as the real-life Ron Kovic, a young marine who returns home from the Vietnam War as a paraplegic. Once a gung ho supporter of the war, Kovic's perceptions gradually change following his return back to "the world." Although perceived by many to be just another Hollywood pretty boy up to this time, Cruise proved his critics wrong, delivering a powerful performance as the disillusioned Kovic, who braves two tours of duty in 'Nam, a brutal stay at a VA hospital and the realization that he will never be whole again. In one scene, an angry Kovic unloads on his mother (Caroline Kava), shouting, "Thou shalt not kill, Mom. Thou shalt not kill women and children! Thou shalt not kill! Remember? Isn't that what you taught us? Isn't that what they taught us?" Cruise earned a richly-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July (1989) - Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise as Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men (Columbia, 1992)

Tom Cruise appears as Lt. (j.g.) Daniel Kaffee, a Harvard Law graduate and Navy lawyer just putting in his required time until he is tasked with defending two marines who are accused of murdering a comrade-in-arms at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When the accused turn down a proposed plea bargain, Kaffee goes to work, eventually trying the case and placing Gitmo's stern commander Colonel Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) on the stand. The relentless Kaffee proves his mettle, incessantly grilling Jessep until the former breaks, angrily admitting that it was he who had ordered the illegal Code Red which had resulted in the death of Marine Private William Santiago. "I want the truth!" Cruise's Kaffee demands of the smug Jessep during cross-examination, and by God he gets it.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Mission: Impossible (Paramount, 1996), Mission: Impossible II (Paramount, 2000), Mission: Impossible III (Paramount, 2006)

Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, a super agent for the ultra-secret Impossible Missions Force. In the first film, Hunt is forced to go on the run following a botched mission in Prague. Hunt later "drops in" at CIA headquarters, dangling from thin wire as he breaks into a secret vault. The Ethan Hunt character afforded Tom Cruise one of the best action roles of his career, and the adventure isn't over yet. Now filming is Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, the fourth MI entry in the series tentatively scheduled for a December 2011 release.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible (1996) - Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria, The Color of Money (Buena Vista, 1986)

Tom Cruise plays Vincent Lauria, a young, hot pool hustler who is mentored by the old pro "Fast" Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in this highly-anticipated sequel to 1961's The Hustler. Fast Eddie sets up the matches, with cocky Vincent gradually learning the art of the hustle with gal pal Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) along for window dressing. "The hustler isn't what he used to be, but he has the next best thing: a kid who is," promised the movie's tagline. The "kid" in this case is Tom Cruise, sporting a healthy head of hair, an impish grin and a sledgehammer break at the pool table. Paul Newman finally won a Best Actor Oscar that year, with no small thanks to Cruise's electric performance as the promising pool hustler.

Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria with Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986) - Buena Vista Pictures

Tom Cruise as Jerry McGuire, Jerry McGuire (TriStar, 1996)

Tom Cruise has the title role, playing a hotshot, money-grubbing super agent whose clients include many of the biggest names in sports. Cruise's Jerry McGuire later changes his ways, leaving the sports agency and losing many of his big-name clients, save for pro football player Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). "Show me the money!" Jerry repeatedly shouts in one exchange with Rod, making for one of the most memorable movie quotes of all time. Tom Cruise earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his energetic performance.

Tom Cruise as Maverick, Top Gun (Paramount, 1986)

Tom Cruise stars as Maverick, a young, cocky naval aviator competing at the U.S. Navy's Top Gun school. Maverick is a bit unstable but eventually proves his mettle, engaging in real-life aerial combat with a couple of Russian MiGs. Val Kilmer is here as fellow pilot Iceman, with Kelly McGillis as blond love interest Charlie. The aerial scenes are breathtaking if not always accurate. Decades after its release Top Gun is still talked about in movie circles, with Tom Cruise the center of attention in one of the most testosterone-fueled performances of his career.

Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun (1986) - Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, The Firm (Paramount, 1993)

Tom Cruise plays Mitch McDeere, a recent law school graduate who takes a position with a mysterious Memphis law firm in this stellar adaptation of the John Grisham novel. His new place of employment has ties to organized crime, something Mitch learns about from FBI agent Wayne Tarrance (Ed Harris). A cornered Mitch later gathers evidence against the firm, who will protect their secrets at any cost. "Let me get this straight: you want me to steal files from the firm, turn them over to the FBI, send my colleagues to jail...Breach attorney-client privilege, thus getting myself disbarred for life, then testify in open court against the Mafia...Let me ask you something: are you out of your fucking mind?" Cruise's McDeere queries his FBI handler. 

Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (Warner Bros., 1994)

Tom Cruise plays Lestat de Lioncourt, a centuries-old vampire who turns a grieving Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) into a fellow creature of the night. Cruise makes for one of the more sinister vampires ever to grace the silver screen – a real charmer with a brutal bite. "Evil is a point of view. God kills indiscriminately and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are, none so like him as ourselves," Cruise's Lestat waxes philosophically.   

Tom Cruise as Lestat with Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire (1994) - Warner Bros.

Tom Cruise as Stefen Djordjevic, All the Right Moves (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1983)

Tom Cruise plays Stefen "Stef" Djordjevic, an ambitious high school football player in the heart of gritty Pennsylvania steel country who's out to win an athletic scholarship. But Stef's clash with the hard-ass, omnipotent Coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson) threatens his chances when the latter kicks him off the team. Cruise and co-star Lea Thompson actually went back to high school under assumed names in order to prepare themselves for filming. Mr. Cruise didn't last long, as he was quickly outed after day one by a fellow student who had seen him in Taps (1981). 

Tom Cruise as Cadet Captain David Shawn, Taps (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1981)

In only the second film of his career Tom Cruise plays Cadet Captain David Shawn. When Cadet Major Brian Moreland (Timothy Hutton) learns that their beloved Bunker Hill Military Academy is to be shut down and replaced by a condo development, he takes action, raiding a nearby armory and rallying his fellow cadets to action. The National Guard is called in, with bloodshed eventually following though a series of miscalculations. Although Cruise's role is small, there's no mistaking future greatness in his performance as a teenage, Columbine-type killer, who maniacally mans a machine gun in an upstairs window and indiscriminately sprays "the enemy" below. "It's beautiful, man!" Cruise's psychotic David Shawn announces just before he is shot to hell.

Tom Cruise as David Shawn in Taps (1981) - Twentieth Century-Fox

Ten More Memorable Tom Cruise Movie Roles

  • As Joel Goodsen, Risky Business (1983)
  • As Charlie Babbitt, Rain Man (1988)
  • As Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Valkyrie (2008)
  • As Ray Ferrier, War of the Worlds (2005)
  • As Nathan Algren, The Last Samurai (2003)
  • As Chief John Anderton, Minority Report (2002)
  • As Frank T.J. Mackey, Magnolia (1999)
  • As Brian Flanagan, Cocktail (1988)
  • As Steve Randle, The Outsiders (1983)
  • As Cole Trickle, Days of Thunder (1990)

Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier with Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds (2005) - Paramount Pictures

Top Image

  • Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire (1996) - TriStar

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Comments (2)

You picked the best of the best-all my favorites.

Agree with Jerry.