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The Last Real Movie Star? Tom Cruise from 'Risky Business' to Oprah's couch and beyond

Tom Cruise visits
Tom Cruise visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on June 4, 2014 in New York City.
Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for "The Tonight Sh

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The film reel that flutters through your mind when thinking of Tom Cruise likely includes the "Risky Business" boxers scene, the iconic "Magnolia" monologue and a real-life vignette of Cruise jumping maniacally on Oprah's couch.

RELATED: Cruise's 'Tomorrow' may flop: Is the era of the movie star over?

As Amy Nicholson recounts in her new book:

“[W]hen Cruise began his publicity tour for War of the Worlds, he and his new flack (and sister), Lee Anne DeVette, were totally unprepared for TMZ, Perez Hilton, and the terrifyingly mean-spirited new world of celebrity journalism. They screw up. Miscalculating this new fan fixation on “real” lives, Cruise finally decided to open up to the press—way up.

On Oprah, he professed his love for his girlfriend of one month, the 16-years-younger TV actress Katie Holmes. He was so excited about possibly proposing to a near stranger that on national television, he pumped his fists dropped to his knees and holler "I can't be cool! I can't be laid-back!"

The moment was remixed and reposted all over the Internet, and his image was tarnished nearly instantaneously. What else impacted the image of Tom Cruise? Is it fair to focus so much on his religion - if it’s unrelated to his work? How did his early career choices create an exceptional career? Does he need to rehabilitate his star power? If so, how?


Amy Nicholson, Chief Film Critic, LA Weekly; Author of forthcoming "Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor" (Cahiers du Cinema/Phaidon Press); Recent LA Weekly cover story: How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star