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Twenty-five years ago, Tom Cruise was cementing his status as the biggest movie star of his generation. He had not yet jumped on Oprah’s couch. To most audiences, he seemed like a nice young man with a million-dollar smile. These days, we all know Cruise is kind of a kook. There’s no denying that his movie star status has dimmed since Cruise put his craziness on display, but he has outlasted most of his contemporaries on the A-list. In this cover story from the December 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Cruise discusses his upcoming courtroom drama, A Few Good Men. The interview is uniquely Cruisian. You can see glimpses of some of the modern day Cruise when he laughs too hard and discusses his difficult upbringing. This is a guy who doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin, but he’s charismatic enough to fake it.
Pretend you are a high powered Hollywood producer. The year is 1992 – a time when movie stars mattered. If you wanted to open a hit movie, you needed an A-list leading man. In order to attract top-tier talent, deals were being struck that included ever-increasing pay days for a select group of movie stars. In the July 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, they looked at who was earning six million dollars or more per picture and asked, are they worth it? Some of these guys may have been. Some, in retrospect, definitely weren’t . With the benefit of a quarter century of hindsight, let’s sort out who belongs in which group.
Tom Cruise is turning 55 today. If there is truly such a thing as an A-list in the film industry, Cruise is on it. He began acting in his late teens in supporting parts in Endless Love and Taps. His first success in a starring role came in Risky Business, and his first big hit—and still his biggest in inflation-adjusted terms—was Top Gun. Since then it would be hard to find a time where he would not have been considered a major star.
A couple of months back I dove into the world of Lego Dimensions with my kids. We all enjoyed the game itself and the element of building and collecting Lego figures appealed to us as well. Since then, I have been taking advantage of sales when I can find them and storing Lego packs away for Christmas presents for the kids.
But frankly, I like Lego Dimensions too and some of the packs don’t appeal to my kids at all. Case in point: The Mission Impossible Level Pack. While franchises like Harry Potter, The Simpsons and Ghostbusters are popular with my girls, they don’t know who the heck Ethan Hunt is nor do they have any interest in finding out. I picked up the new level pack anyway because Target had all their Lego Dimensions product on sale 40%. Since the kids aren’t interested, I figured I’d break this one out of the box and play it now rather than wrap it up and put it under the tree in December.
We have had a lot of years to get to know Nicole Kidman. But when she first came to America, she was shrouded in mystery and overshadowed by her world-famous husband. In the July 1991 issue of Movieline magazine, Christopher H. Hunt tried to get the real story on Mrs. Tom Cruise. What he found was not the Cinderella story his editor expected, but rather a woman who was driven to succeed.
It doesn’t happen very often. Less so now than in the past. But every now and then the right actor finds the right role in the right movie at exactly the right time and magic happens. A star is born! In the June 1996 issue of Movieline magazine, Virginia Campbell and Charles Oakley took a look at some star-making roles.
March was Young Hollywood month at Movieline which typically meant a lot of snarky articles about the rising stars of the day. In the March 1991 issue, Joe Queenan examine the rise of seven young actors and actresses with movie star smiles.
Cameron Crowe started writing for Rolling Stone magazine at age 15. At 24 he went back to high school undercover and wrote a book about teen mores in the early 80s. He then adapted that book into a script for a high school comedy that helped define the genre. From there it was a short step to directing. Crowe went on to write and direct a series of character-driven films that were popular with critics and audiences. Then he began to fall off. His most recent film was one of the year’s biggest flops and was widely derided for a crucial piece of miscasting.
What the hell happened?
If you’re a movie star, any year in which you have a hit movie is a good year. Twenty years ago, Tom Cruise had two. In 1996, he starred in the franchise-launching adaptation of the TV show, Mission: Impossible as well as the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy, Jerry Maguire. These were the third and fourth highest-grossing movies of the year in the US making 1996 an excellent year to be Tom Cruise.