30 Unforgettable Tom Cruise Moments That Changed Hollywood Forever

There are few working actors today as polarizing as Tom Cruise. From his insane movie stunts to his devolved marriages (and all the strange rumors we’ve heard over the years), he’s certainly made a name for himself outside of his movie roles. And there are certain Cruise moments we just can’t ever forget.

From funny to strange to downright dangerous, here are the 30 top moments that are marked in our memories forever.

1. Cruise performed a dangerous Mission: Impossible stunt involving a lot of water

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible | Movieclips via YouTube

When it comes to performing his own stunts, Cruise is known for taking things to the next level. One such instance exists in the first Mission: Impossible film. Gamespot explains in the film, Cruise’s character blows up a giant fish tank holding 16 tons of water. Cruise runs just ahead of the water, skillfully avoiding the exploding glass and tidal wave behind him.

The director was reportedly quite hesitant to allow Cruise to pull this one off, but since the take with the stuntman didn’t look quite right, Cruise jumped right in himself.

Next: Remember this iconic moment with Oprah?

2. He declared his love for Katie Holmes by jumping on Oprah’s couch

Tom Cruise with Oprah
Tom Cruise with Oprah | Tom Cruise Video Archives via YouTube

This incident happened in 2005, but it seems like just yesterday when Cruise was jumping on Oprah’s couch and declaring his love for Katie Holmes. The Huffington Post explains at the time, Cruise was dating Holmes. And when on Oprah’s talk show to promote War of the Worlds, he wanted the world to know just how in love he was by jumping on her furniture about it.

This marked the beginning of some of his most famous public antics, too.

Next: No one will ever forget this uncomfortable dance routine.

3. He performed a strange dance routine with Katie Holmes at a 2010 charity event

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes dancing
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes dancing | Nicki Swift via YouTube

Five years after the couch-jumping incident with Oprah, Cruise was still making headlines for odd public behavior. Ranker notes Cruise and Holmes attended a charity event and gave a dance performance no one could forget. Holmes lip-synced “Whatever Lola Wants” while flipping around her skirt and running her fingers through Cruise’s hair. Meanwhile, Cruise awkwardly watched and tried to follow her lead — but the whole thing was incredibly strange.

Next: He called one famous show host “glib.”  

4. He had a heated argument with Matt Lauer over pharmaceutical drugs

Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise
Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise | Today via YouTube

In one of the most infamous celebrity moments ever, Today Show host Matt Lauer and Cruise got in a heated debate back in 2005. People reports after Lauer asked him about Scientology, his relationship with Katie Holmes, and prescription medications, things took a turn. Cruise called Lauer “glib” at one point, and Cruise argued against antidepressants and psychiatry in general as Lauer questioned on. The whole confrontation became so famous that Lauer later recreated the interview as a joke.

Next: We can’t believe he really pulled off this stunt.

5. He really hung off a plane in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation | Paramount Pictures

If there’s any scene fit for a stunt double, it was this one. Nevertheless, Cruise insisted on doing things his way in Rogue Nation. Ranker reports while filming the scene, Cruise actually held on to the side of a moving airplane as it plummeted down the runway. In two days, he tried the dangerous move four times.

He clearly survived the stunt, but it could have gone badly. “I remember I got hit by a stone that was so tiny, you cannot believe it,” Cruise said. “I thought it broke my rib.”

Next: He’ll never live this video down.

6. Cruise promoted Scientology in a bizarre video

Tom Cruise holding a microphone at a press conference.
Tom Cruise | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

A video of Cruise promoting Scientology was leaked to the internet in 2008, Nicki Swift reports. In the recording, he discusses the benefits of the church — but many considered his delivery to be seriously strange. He goes from laughter to firey intensity throughout.

Cruise also gave an unforgettable hypothetical scenario in the video that many found offputting. “Being a Scientologist … when you drive past an accident, it’s not like anyone else,” he starts. “As you drive past, you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one that can really help.”

Next: The Scientology community loves Cruise.

7. Footage of Cruise winning a Scientology award was leaked

Tom Cruise waves during the inauguration of the Church of Scientology
Tom Cruise waves during the inauguration of the Church of Scientology | Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

Cruise isn’t the only Scientologist in Hollywood — but he may be the only one to receive an award for his work with the church. Gawker notes he won the Freedom Medal of Valor for Achievement in the Field of Excellence back in 2004. No one really knew about this until years later, though, when a video of the event was leaked. He’s even seen directly addressing a giant painting of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, during his speech.

Next: There was trouble in paradise between him and Katie Holmes. 

8. He may have requested Katie Holmes go by Kate Cruise instead

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of Dreamworks' "Tropic Thunder"
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

It was all love in the beginning, but Holmes and Cruise couldn’t avoid the rumors for long. Ranker notes one rumor suggested Cruise wanted Katie Holmes to change her name to Kate Cruise. Some believed his Scientology faith was involved here, as after their marriage, the church may have wanted Holmes to cut ties with her former life.

Holmes never took “Kate Cruise” to heart, but it’s worth noting Cruise called her “Kate” in his divorce statement.

Next: We’ll never forget this iconic movie scene.

9. His underwear dance in Risky Business was seen everywhere

Tom Cruise in Risky Business
Tom Cruise in Risky Business | Movieclips via YouTube

When it comes to movie scenes no one can forget, the dance scene in 1983’s Risky Business tops the list. Cruise was just 21 at the time and already making a name for himself by gliding across his parent’s living room in his socks and underwear. Yahoo notes after everyone flocked to theaters to see the movie, recreations of the scene were everywhere. From Saturday Night Live skits to cat food commercials, everyone was ready to try their hand at sliding around to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

 Next: We can’t believe he actually pulled off this Mission: Impossible scene.

10. Cruise held his breath for six minutes to film Mission: Impossible scenes

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation | Paramount Movies via YouTube

Not only does he hang on to the sides of airplanes, but Cruise was willing to go all-out when it came to the underwater scenes in Rogue Nation. USA Today reports Cruise trained for months so that he could perform the stunt himself without a cut. And that required him to learn how to hold his breath for over six minutes at a time. “It’s something I have always wanted to do,” he told USA Today.

Next: Cruise’s laughter was uncontrollable. 

11. He couldn’t stop laughing on Late Show with David Letterman

Tom Cruise on David Letterman
Tom Cruise with David Letterman | Entertainment & Music via YouTube

Plenty of celebrities laugh while being interviewed, but few have gone as far as Cruise. During the mid-2000s (when eyes were watching Cruise the most), he went on Late Show with David Letterman to talk about a movie scene. He couldn’t stop cracking up while explaining the situation at hand, however — and his laughter persisted throughout the entire explanation.

Laughter truly is contagious, too, as the entire audience (and Letterman) couldn’t stop cackling, either.

Next: This infamous movie scene was performed by Cruise himself.

12. In Mission: Impossible 2, Cruise actually scaled the cliffs himself

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2 | YouTube Movies via YouTube

The beginning of Mission: Impossible 2 is so familiar to moviegoers that even those who haven’t seen the movies have caught glimpses of this scene. It opens with Cruise free-scaling cliffs in Utah. In reality, Cruise was wearing a safety harness that was later digitally edited out, The Loop says. But even so, it’s majorly impressive that he was actually suspended hundreds of feet while rock climbing instead of having a stunt double do it.

 Next: His performance in one movie stood apart from the others.

13. His stellar performance in Magnolia shook the audience

The cast of the film "Magnolia" pose at the film's premiere
The cast of the film Magnolia pose at the film’s premiere | Lucy Nicholson/AFP/Getty Images

You saw him in Risky Business, Top Gun, and A Few Good Men, but it was Cruise’s 1999 performance that had audiences taking him more seriously than ever. The Guardian recalls his role in Magnolia, which put him alongside other A-list actors at the time. In the film, he played a “pick-up expert” who was all about exploiting women, and he became the perfect character audiences loved to hate. This was a high point in Cruise’s career and one we’ll never forget.

Next: His latest Mission: Impossible stunt was super dangerous.

14. He weaved through Paris at 100 mph for Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Paramount Pictures via YouTube

He’s back to his old tricks for his latest Mission: Impossible film. This time, The New York Times notes Cruise rode a motorcycle at speeds up to 100 mph on cobblestones while other vehicles weaved around him. And since rain and dew were factors at play, there was a very real chance of Cruise skidding out and crashing.

Stunt drivers drove the vehicles around Cruise, but even so, there were language barriers to overcome. This also means the drivers weren’t always necessarily going to understand where they needed to be, thus putting Cruise in real danger to film this scene.

Next: Remember this very public feud? 

15. He shamed Brooke Shields publically for her use of antidepressants

Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Cruise called Matt Lauer “glib” in his infamous Today Show interview, but he also managed to insult Brooke Shields in the same recording. Us Weekly explains Shields has endorsed prescription medication for the treatment of postpartum depression before. And according to Cruise during the interview, no one should be taking these pills and psychiatry shouldn’t exist.

He went on to apologize to Shields in person. And Shields went on to attend his wedding and bring the “something old” for Katie Holmes.

Next: Another moment with Holmes that had everyone talking.

16. He went for the dip-kiss with Katie Holmes on the red carpet in 2005

Tom Cruise kissing Katie Holmes on the red carpet
Tom Cruise kissing Katie Holmes on the red carpet | Nicki Swift via YouTube

During the golden years of Cruise and Holmes’ romance, they were constantly locking lips for the public. And just when everyone had had enough of their passionate love, they had a red carpet moment that no one could forget. Fox News reminds us at the screening for War of the Worlds, Cruise dipped Holmes down in front of everyone and kissed her. Many noted the whole scenario felt odd and out of place — but given the other happenings around this year, we’re not too surprised this one happened.

Next: There was no room for error with this stunt.

17. He plummeted 40 feet on to a helicopter in Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Paramount Pictures via YouTube

In regards to one of Cruise’s latest stunts, director Christopher McQuarrie said, “He knew that was going to hurt, but he just didn’t know how much.” USA Today explains the scene involved Cruise free falling 40 feet onto a helicopter’s payload while the helicopter was flying 2,000 feet above the ground in New Zealand. There were safety harnesses, of course, but practicing the stunt beforehand was a near impossibility. Instead, Cruise had to work out the kinks as he went through it, which is seriously impressive.

Next: Many news outlets suffered the consequences of fake news.

18. He sued multiple news outlets for libel over the years

Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise
Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise | Katie Holmes via Instagram

You’ve seen tabloids that spread nasty celebrity rumors — and Cruise is one of the few celebrities who actually fought against them. CNN reports after one tabloid suggested Cruise “abandoned” his daughter, Suri, during his divorce from Holmes, he sued the tabloid for defamation. “I have in no way cut Suri out of my life — whether physically, emotionally, financially or otherwise,” Cruise said at the time.

The $50 million defamation suit was settled. And it certainly kept other tabloids on their toes.

Next: This might be Cruise’s most famous stunt move ever.

19. Cruise really scaled a skyscraper in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Paramount Pictures

Scaling the tallest building in the world sounds terrifying, but it was totally doable for Cruise. The Loop notes in Ghost Protocol, he scaled Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands as the tallest building in the world. It soars 2,722 feet above the ground, which proved a monumental task for Cruise, as he trained months to be able to climb it. He even crashed into the building a few times during filming, but no matter — he still accomplished this impressive feat.

Next: Never squirt Cruise with a water gun.

20. He lost his cool on a reporter who squirted him with a water gun

Tom Cruise with a reporter who squirted him with water
Tom Cruise with a reporter who squirted him with water | CNN via YouTube

The War of the Worlds era for Cruise was rife with conflict. Today reports one such instance involved a water gun, a reporter, and a stern talking to from the actor.

While Cruise was doing press interviews for the film, one of the reporters squirted him with a water gun disguised as a microphone. Cruise laughed at first, but then immediately asked, “Why would you do that?” He then held the reported by the arm and told him, “Don’t run away. That’s incredibly rude. I’m here giving you an interview and you do that … it’s incredibly rude.”

Next: There are certain lines you just don’t cross with Cruise. 

21. His 60 Minutes Australia interview had everyone cringing

"60 Minutes Australia" with Tom Cruise
60 Minutes Australia with Tom Cruise | 60 Minutes Australia via YouTube

Cruise has a reputation for being a charismatic, friendly guy — but one reporter clearly crossed a line. Today reports during a 60 Minutes Australia segment, reporter Peter Overton asked Cruise about his relationships and family, Cruise told him, “Listen, here’s the thing, Peter, you’re stepping over a line now … and you know you are.”

And it didn’t stop there. Cruise also requested that Overton “put his manners back in” after Overton claimed he was simply asking questions the public was curious about.

Next: The Cruise-Holmes wedding was discussed for months.

22. His wedding with Katie Holmes was reportedly over the top

Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes - Wedding Day
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes pose together at Castello Odescalchi on their wedding day. | Robert Evans/Handout via Getty Images

An over-the-top romance deserves an indulgent wedding, and Cruise’s wedding certainly delivered. E! News reports the couple was married in an Italian castle and were serenaded by Andrea Bocelli during their wedding dinner. Holmes had two wedding dresses that were both designed by Giorgio Armani and adorned with crystals. It’s estimated the whole shebang cost somewhere around $3 million.

Next: This red flag had many Cruise-Holmes fans worried. 

23. He allegedly gave Katie Holmes a chaperone

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise arrive at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Again in 2005, Cruise raised eyebrows when Holmes was reportedly constantly seen with a woman employed by the Church of Scientology. At the time, a source told People that Holmes became “good friends” with Jessica Rodriguez. And though the source explained that Rodriguez was nothing more than a friend and assistant, fans had their doubts. Many suspected Cruise actually asked Rodriguez to keep an eye on Holmes.

Next: One movie nearly cost him his life.

24. He nearly died in The Last Samurai 

Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai | Movieclips via YouTube

It wasn’t Cruise’s best or most memorable film, but we can’t forget that he was nearly decapitated by a co-star while filming The Last Samurai. Co-star Hiroyuki Sanada apparently lost control of the huge sword he was yielding while attacking Cruise on a mechanical horse, Looper explains. “Tom’s neck was right in front of me, and I tried to stop swinging my sword, but it was hard to control with one hand,” Sanada recalled. Luckily, he missed Cruise’s head by a half inch, sparing his life.

Next: Cruise and Holmes took part in a very unique birthing ritual.

25. He and Katie Holmes agreed for her to give birth in total silence

Katie Holmes holds her daughter Suri Cruise as they watch a soccer game.
Katie Holmes holds her daughter Suri Cruise as they watch a soccer game. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Before their marriage, Holmes and Cruise agreed to abide by a Scientology practice during the birth of their child. ABC News asked Cruise about it, and he clarified what was going to happen. Essentially, everyone present for the birth of the child would not be allowed to make noise, as Scientologists believe newborn babies can have permanent psychic scarring if they hear negativity. He assured the interviewer that Holmes could make noise, however, which went against what many others thought.

“But why have other people make noise? You know, you want that area very calm and to make it very special,” Cruise said.

Next: Another classically weird Holmes and Cruise moment

26. He uncomfortably grabbed Katie Holmes’ behind during a concert — and everyone saw

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at a concert
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at a concert | TMZ via YouTube

There’s no shortage of weird moments between Holmes and Cruise, so here’s another that changed Hollywood’s view of him forever. Ranker reports the happy couple was attending a Katy Perry concert in 2011 when Cruise grabbed Holmes’ behind. The unfortunate part was that he kept his hand there for the majority of the show. And of course, it was all caught on tape, making the spectacle go viral.

Next: His divorce from Holmes came with serious consequences.

27. After his divorce from Holmes, he allegedly barred her from publically dating

Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes
Left: Jamie Foxx in 2018 | Greg Doherty/Getty Images, Right: Katie Holmes in New York City | Monica Schipper/Getty Images

The romance between Holmes and Cruise came to a screeching halt eventually. And Radar Online reports fans of Cruise went wild when they discovered that there may have been a clause in their divorce settlement that may have prevented her from publically dating anyone new for five years. As one source explained, “Katie signed a clause in her quickie divorce settlement that prevents her from embarrassing Tom in various ways.” This allegedly included talking about Scientology, talking about him, or dating in the public eye until 2017.

Next: He invented this character who was unlike anyone we’d ever seen.

28. Cruise brought his Tropic Thunder character to life

Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder
Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder | Dreamworks Productions

He’s known for his action flicks, but CinemaBlend explains moviegoers will never forget Cruise’s role as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. Cruise was actually essential in creating the character, too, and he also helped with how the character was supposed to look. He wanted Grossman to dance and have “fat hands,” and it seems those traits were non-negotiable. And after he showed the director his dance moves, the character totally came to life.

Next: Cruise doesn’t always get away unscathed. 

29. He broke his ankle in Mission: Impossible – Fallout 

Tom Cruise doing stunts for Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Tom Cruise doing stunts for Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Variety via YouTube

Even the best stuntmen aren’t invincible, and such is the case with Cruise. The Independent explains during a rooftop chase scene, Cruise was chasing another actor when his foot slammed against a wall he was meant to haul himself over. Unfortunately, Cruise notes, “I knew instantly my ankle was broken and I really didn’t want to do it again so just got up and carried on with the take. I said, ‘It’s broken. That’s a wrap. Take me to hospital’.” And he continued shooting the film with his broken ankle in the following weeks.

Next: This stunt came at the risk of getting sick.

30. He endured a skydive at 5 miles up for Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise skydiving in Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Tom Cruise skydiving in Mission: Impossible – Fallout | Paramount Pictures via YouTube

You may think Cruise would leave all of his craziest stunts for his younger years, but clearly, he was still up to his old tricks in Fallout. And Reuters notes one stunt required Cruise to jump from a plane at 25,000 feet, which is nearly five miles above the ground. He then had to open his parachute at less than 2,000 feet. This stunt was so intense that it came with the risk of decompression sickness, so Cruise tried his best to prepare by training in a custom wind machine.

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