For 20 years Tom Cruise has been wowing audiences, with his action-packed movies raking in well over $7 billion. Tom’s leading-man status in Hollywood quickly started to fade after several television appearances including a testy encounter with Today’s Matt Lauer, his comments on Brooke Shields’ drug use for her postpartum depression, and of course jumping on Oprah’s couch. As a result, he lost his long-standing producing deal at Paramount Pictures and became fodder for parody in the town that made him a star.
As he nears 50, the Top Gun actor has put his career crisis on Cruise-control, coming off the biggest box office hit of his career in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol and he aims to please in the upcoming summer flick, Rock of Ages. Cruise opens up to Playboy about keeping his life simple with mother, sisters, wife Katie Holmes and his kids – Bella, 19, Connor, 17, and Suri, 6 – close to his side.
How does he look so amazing for nearly 50? “I honestly have no idea,” Cruise laughs. “I work. I’m always with family. I train, go without sleep. I just go hard,” he says. One thing is for sure, “I haven’t [had any plastic surgery], and I never would,” Cruise assues.
Family for me has always been important,” Cruise shares. “When I shoot, everybody comes. When Kate’s shooting, I’m there with her and the kids. We’re always together. I’m always around my mother and sisters. I always wanted to be a father, a husband. And I’ve always had a work ethic. I’ve had paying jobs since I was about eight years old—cutting grass, raking leaves, paper routes, selling Easter cards and Christmas cards.”
Growing up without a father did not emotionally scar the Jerry Maguire star.
It wasn’t a big conflict when I was growing up; that’s just the way it was,” Cruise says of his absentee father. “I don’t look back and feel bad. I know some people do, but it’s not a burden I carry through life. It’s more like, Okay, this happened. That’s how he behaved, that’s how he did things. He tried, but it just was who he was. Traveling has given me a broader understanding of people, and I’ve always been interested in the similarities we have and why people make certain choices in life. I got an introduction to that as a young child, but it never felt like a weight I carried on my shoulders.”
“We were better off than a lot and not as well off as others,” Cruise adds. “For me, it was more basic. Like, if I wanted to go to the movies as many times as I wanted to go, I had to find money to pay for it. I learned to go get things. And we moved around a lot.”
The Golden Globe-winner went on to discuss the multitude of rumors surrounding him.
Do you wish they wouldn’t say certain things? Yeah, you wish,” he admits. “Does refuting things help? Not really. There comes a point when you just have to go, You know what? Here’s how I’ve lived my life: I’ve never been late to set. I make films I believe in. I feel privileged to be able to do what I love. You just have to keep going and remember that. The other stuff? I hear it, I read it, I get it.”
Addressing the comments he made about Brooke Shields taking medication for her postpartum depression, Cruise says, “When I go back and look at it, I find myself thinking, I don’t feel that way,” he shares. “I get how it came across, but I don’t feel that way, and I never have. Telling people how to live their lives? I saw how that came across and how pieces were edited.”
But don’t expect him to stop gushing about his lovely wife “Kate.”
She is an extraordinary person, and if you spent five minutes with her, you’d see it,” Cruise says. “Everything she does, she does with this beautiful creativity. When she becomes interested in something, she doesn’t talk about it, she does it. One week I said to her, “You’ve been up in the middle of the night. Is everything okay?” She smiled and then threw this thing on my desk and said, “I wrote this script.” She wanted to try it, and she did. She wanted to try designing clothes, and now her line is wonderful and, to me, an example of how she just creates beautiful things in her life. She has a voice and warmth as an artist, as a mother. She’s funny and charming, and when she walks into the room, I just feel better. I’m a romantic. I like doing things like creating romantic dinners, and she enjoys that. I don’t know what to say—I’m just happy, and I have been since the moment I met her. What we have is very special.”
And he stands strong behing his controversial believe system, Scientology.
“I have respect for what other people believe,” he says. “What I believe in my own life is that it’s a search for how I can do things better, whether it’s being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve. Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them. I’m fortunate in the life I have.”
One thing is for sure, the Days of Thunder star has learned to stand up for himself.
You have to,” he states. “There’s one thing you know with a bully. I don’t care how big or mean they are. If you allow it, if you don’t stand up to that.… And there are different ways to do it. There’s the school yard, but sometimes just confronting them works. I learned hard lessons as a kid, and you think that once you grow up and aren’t at school, it will be different. It isn’t; it’s just bigger. I was being evaluated by the world. You have language barriers. There are lots of ways to incite incidents through miscommunication. The internet has made it more immediate for false stuff. I’ve learned to just let it go or communicate where you can. Since the beginning of my career, you can find something with anyone.”
Cruise’s new movie, Rock of Ages, in which he plays an aging rock ‘n’ roll musician, is set for release June 15, 2012. For more on the interview with Cruise, go to Playboy.