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Tom Cruise is the definition of a movie star.

But, aside from the Mission: Impossible franchise, he's never played the same role repeatedly—until now, that is. The 54-year-old actor returns as the lead in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, out Friday. Based on Lee Child's literary hero, Jack is the kind of character Cruise does best.

"Making films—my life has been focused for it, around it, and I've always wanted to do it my whole life. So, that is my legacy, my movies," Cruise said Sunday at the premiere in Harahan, La., not far from where the action thriller was filmed. "I really wanted to travel the world and work in different cultures, and be part of different cultures, and celebrate different cultures. I'm interested in that; I encourage that. It's been a real privilege and a gift to be able to do that."

Tom Cruise

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

There are many qualities Cruise admires about Jack, but he's particularly fond of the fact that he lives off the grid. "I think as we read his books, it's a wish fulfillment for some of us. There's no digital device. He's someone who travels when he wants and is interested in people. He has a kind of investigative mind that he sees things that others don't. I think it's interesting in this day and age also, where everyone is [glued to their phones]. It's amazing," he said. "People are [staring at screens], and he's not. He's looking, and he's paying attention to everything else."

In his own life, Cruise admitted that he's rarely plugged in, either. "Sometimes I have to for work, but I keep it very limited," he told E! News. "I don't spend time doing that kind of stuff."

Cruise, who's famous for doing his own stunts, also loves that Jack is "so physically capable." It creates some "really entertaining" movie moments, he said. "It's just fun to explore that stuff."

Miraculously, after years of risky business on set, he hasn't incurred any serious or permanent injuries. "It's interesting, because I've never missed a day of work. You get whacked. There are days I'm limping into work," Cruise told E! News. No matter; the show must go on. "Even before I made movies, I've never been late to work. I've never missed a day of work. But I prepare very diligently for all of these...It's very grueling, my schedule. I work seven days a week, usually."

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is in theaters Friday.