As a movie lover, I find few things more satisfying – or frustrating – than following the careers of actors I like. First, there are the promising up-and-comers, like Saoirse Ronan, Emile Hirsch, Josh Hutcherson and Garrett Hedlund, among others, who will (hopefully) blossom into the next generation’s A-list. Then, there are the already established thespians who, for whatever reason, haven’t been living up to their potential. I can list dozens of actors that I think are infinitely superior to the work they’ve been putting out lately or have faded from the limelight and deserve more attention: Russell Crowe, Edward Norton, Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, Kate Hudson (though at this point, I’m starting to wonder if Almost Famous really was a fluke), Guy Pearce, etc., etc. I can guarantee you that every film buff alive has spent the past two decades wishing that Robert De Niro would return to his Taxi Driver/Raging Bull glory days.
Thank you, Ridley Scott, for getting my hopes up.
But maybe more than anybody else, I would love for Tom Cruise to remind audiences why he used to be the biggest movie star on the planet.
Ironically, the things that most people dislike about Cruise – his immense fame and influence, his highly publicized yet strangely enigmatic personal life, his complete lack of self-consciousness – are part of why I find him so fascinating. I’ve personally never quite understood the fuss over a certain couch-jumping incident; yeah, it’s weird, awkward and maybe a tad self-indulgent, but as far as celebrity scandals go, it isn’t exactly a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic tirade caught on tape or a conviction for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, which apparently still gets you a petition of support from your colleagues who think that your unparalleled talent as a film-maker should pardon you from arrest. Anyway, the vast majority of people nowadays (at least judging by Internet message boards, which should always be taken with the utmost seriousness) may think of Cruise as a couch-jumping, secretly gay, lunatic Scientologist, but to me, he’s still the kid who slid across the room in his underwear to the tune of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” in Risky Business, poised on the verge of instant stardom. Even back then, he had this feverish intensity, this effortless self-confidence, that was hypnotic to watch, somehow seeming both vaguely superficial and entirely natural. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that, after the passing of Elizabeth Taylor last year, Cruise may be the last genuine movie star alive.