We don't mean his three marriages and various girlfriends—that's par for the course. Rather, as far as the utter fascination with how he goes about meeting women and what makes or breaks a relationship with him, no one in this celeb-obsessed culture has been under the microscope in recent years as much as Tom has.
Then again, he hasn't always helped his own cause if he'd prefer to not be a source of curiosity.
"I don't even get into that game," the actor told Today host Matt Lauer back in 2006 when he and Katie Holmes burst onto the scene as a couple. Katie, in fact, was sitting right off to the side while Cruise gave the interview, and the screen would occasionally flash back to the Dawson's Creek star and her apparent glee at being in that position.
Cruise's career took off almost as fast as his love life when he got to Hollywood.
The Little House on the Prairie star and future SAG president met Cruise when "he was a struggling starving actor, and I was working. I actually bought him his first set of dishes." She told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! in 2014 that they did not have sex (she was "16, maybe, or 17" at the time), but "we made out"—and he was a good kisser.
The actress scored her breakout role in Dynasty right around the time Cruise made his big-screen debut in Taps—and naturally, the fresh-faced stars went on a date in the early '80s after meeting at an audition.
Locklear, a Los Angeles native, later described it to Chelsea Handler as more of a favor she did for the new guy in town. The kid didn't lack for confidence, though. "You know in Risky Business where he does that dance in his underwear, and he does the splits?" Heather recalled. "We were dancing at a club and he went into that, he started doing the splits. And I, you—" She feigned looking startled. "You just kinda stand there and don't know what to do. Do you dance around him? So I was like, 'I'll just sit down and you can [do you thing].'"
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Rebecca De Mornay
More impressed by his moves was his Risky Business co-star, whom he started dating after the racy romance, with its iconic dance scene, hit theaters in August 1983. In October of that year, De Mornay told People that she didn't have a boyfriend, but one of the reasons she liked Cruise so much was, "I think he is an innocent and that makes me feel good."
Sean Penn, meanwhile, recalled to Rolling Stone going out with Cruise not long after Risky Business came out and witnessing the actor tell a woman who tried to chat him up at the club, "'I have a girlfriend I'm in love with!'"
"He really is a pure person," De Mornay said when they were together, also per RS. "There's something earnest and virtuous about him that's quite rare. There's definitely something different about kids who come from broken homes. They have this sort of searching quality, because you're searching for love and affection, if you've been robbed of a substantial amount of time with your parents. I think that's true of Tom."
They maintained their relationship long distance while he was in London filming the action fantasy Legend, but broke up not long after he returned to the U.S. to shoot Top Gun.
"Relationships are hard," Cruise told Rolling Stone in 1986. "You have to know when you're going to be in a different place from someone else, you have to have the strength to separate. People are more prone to stay together for the security, which is something in my life that I have really not done, in relationships or even in business. If something's not working, you've got to face it and move on."
Asked about settling down, he said, "I don't know if I could get married. Right now, in my present state of mind, I don't believe so. I need a lot of space for myself and my work. You can't say, 'Okay, let's keep that thought—I'll be back to you in a couple of months when I finish this.' But I do enjoy being in a relationship."
They would've been a hard couple to miss, such as when they ran into each other in 2002 at the 1st Annual Entertainment Industry Foundation "Love Rocks" Concert, but it wasn't until around 2008 that the entertainment icon opened up about her mid-'80s fling with Cruise.
"I was crazy about him," Cher told Oprah Winfrey. Reminiscent of what De Mornay said about him being an innocent, the singer recalled, "He was shy. He said he felt like such a boob in school and nobody talked to him. We went on a date once for dinner in a New York restaurant and the waitress was from his old school. He told me she never talked to him back in school, but now he was recognized he got all her attention. It could have been a great big romance because I was crazy for him."
On Watch What Happens Live! in 2013, Cher said Cruise definitely made her "top five" list of lovers in life. "It was a long, long time ago and neither one of us ever talked about it and I don't know why," she told Andy Cohen. "When we were together he was such a private person. He always has been until lately. He didn't mention it and I didn't mention it. I loved him though, he was amazing."
According to Cruise, he met the Gung Ho actress in 1985 at a dinner party while he was developing Top Gun. She was dating a friend of his at the time, but ultimately they got together. Though he didn't think he was ready for marriage in the summer of 1986, they quietly tied the knot on May 9, 1987, in upstate New York. Emilio Estevez was Cruise's best man. His mother, Mary Lee South, told People her new daughter-in-law was "top notch."
Having previously been married to Scientology counselor Jim Rogers, Mimi's the one who's said to have turned Cruise on to the religion. "She took him under her wing," Tom Cruise Unauthorized author Wensley Clarkson told Entertainment Weekly in 2000. (Rogers, meanwhile, has since cut ties with Scientology.)
They announced they were divorcing in January 1990.
"Is that the story, that I was bored with that child and threw him over, chewed him up and spat him out?" Rogers fired back at Playboy in 1993 when asked why the marriage ended. "Well, here's the real story. Tom was seriously thinking of becoming a monk. At least for that period of time, it looked as though marriage wouldn't fit into his overall spiritual need. And he thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument." She added pointedly, "My instrument needed tuning."
As for the other rumors being flung about, that he had become too big a star, or their six-year age difference proved too impenetrable, a then 45-year-old Rogers told the U.K. Telegraph in 2001, "The stardom wasn't really a problem. What did annoy me, though, was the age thing. Some of the tabloids brought it up all the time, and exaggerated the gap between Tom and me. Every six months they seemed to add a year to my age. If Tom and I were still married, the tabloids would probably have me in my sixties by now."
After meeting during casting of the racing drama Days of Thunder, he proposed as soon as his divorce from Mimi Rogers was finalized, and the Australian actress married Cruise on Christmas Eve in 1990.
"He basically swept me off my feet," Kidman recalled to Vanity Fair in 2002. "I fell madly, passionately in love. And as happens when you fall in love, my whole plan in terms of what I wanted for my life—I was like, 'Forget it. This is it.' I was consumed by it, willingly. And I was desperate to have a baby with him. I didn't care if we were married. That's what I wish I'd done."
They adopted two children, Isabella and Connor, and starred in two more films together, the period epic Far and Away and the erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut, which they admitted later was an extremely intense shoot, made all the more devastating by director Stanley Kubrick's death before the film was finished. They also weathered the dooziest of rumors, from one that they were both gay and the marriage was a cover to a report that they needed a coach for the sex scenes in Eyes Wide Shut (the couple successfully sued over both stories).
"Our marriage is stronger because of it. And our friendship is deeper," Cruise said about their final film experience together.
"All I can say is that I hope we are together when we are 80," Kidman told Talk in 2000. "I can't say we will be, but I will be so devastated if we are not."
So consider her blindsided by the timing when Cruise filed for divorce months later. "Citing the difficulties inherent in diverging careers which constantly kept them apart, they concluded that an amicable separation seemed best for both of them at this time," their longtime rep said on Feb. 5, 2001, in announcing the split.
Even then, Kidman's lack of attachment to Scientology and her reluctance to raise their kids that way was named as a major factor in their split (her rep told People religion had "nothing to do with this"). Connor and Isabella were still Scientologists as of at least 2013.
Asked why their marriage ended, Cruise told Vanity Fair in October 2001, "She knows why, and I know why. She's the mother of my children, and I wish her well. And I think that you just move on. And I don't say that lightly. I don't say that with anything. Things happen in life, and you do everything you can, and in every possible way, and there's a point at which you just sometimes have to face the brutal reality."
After meeting on the set of 2001's trippy Vanilla Sky, the Spanish actress dated Cruise for three years, though they were apart a majority of the time for work.
They made their public debut as a couple at the August 2001 premiere of Cruz's film Captain Corelli's Mandolin. "He came and shared it with me," she said on Good Morning America soon after. "It was special for me that he wanted to share it with me that way."
Cruise was married when they were shooting Vanilla Sky, but Cruz insisted they didn't get together until later. "There's nothing to hide and it's a good thing," she said. (She would say years later, "I've never fallen in love with someone I'm working with. It's always been afterwards. If something becomes friendship, then maybe months later it becomes something else, but you can never know. It's always a mystery. You can't plan those things.")
"I'm very, very happy with my relationship," Cruise had told People in the summer of 2003, also denying that they were engaged. The relationship wasn't without its legal drama, however, as Cruz ended up securing damages and a retraction from an Australian tabloid in June 2003 over a story claiming her impending marriage to Tom was postponed because she had an affair.
They split up in January 2004 and alerted the world to that fact two months later. "The relationship just ran its course and they decided not to be girlfriend and boyfriend anymore," a source told People at the time. Cruz's rep denied that Scientology played a role, saying that the actress, while not a Scientologist, had found the church courses she took "beneficial."
The Modern Family star is said to have briefly dated Cruise during a period of time after he broke up with Cruz when the actor really wanted a potential partner who could embrace Scientology (those said to be involved with Cruise's dating process have denied that was the case).
When an interviewer from the Daily Beast noted in 2011 that he hadn't heard too much about what it was like to date Cruise, Vergara reportedly laughed hysterically and exclaimed, "Let's keep it that way! I don't want to talk about that!"
Like Vergara, the Avengers star reportedly wasn't into Cruise's scene. They were never photographed out on a date together, but looked perfectly cordial at an Ambassadors for Humanity gala honoring Bill Clinton and benefiting the Shoah Foundation in February 2005.
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According to a 2012 report in Vanity Fair (the particulars of which were denied by the Church of Scientology), the Iranian-born actress, who would go on to roles in How I Met Your Mother, Scandal, Homeland and more, quietly dated Cruise between October 2004 and January 2005 before it became obvious to the actor and the church that she wasn't right for him.
Per VF, for their first date (a group outing), Cruise arranged for a private tour of the Empire State Building, followed by dinner at Nobu and ice skating at the rink at Rockefeller Center, which was closed to the public for the occasion.
Boniadi was already a Scientologist when she was allegedly recruited to date Cruise, that being a huge part of the appeal, but she later left the church. (The church called the mission to hook Boniadi and Cruise up a "phantom project that never existed.")
"I'd rather not talk about that. It's something that I'm not happy to..." Boniadi told The New York Post in 2013, trailing off when asked about Cruise. "Like I said, I have so many positive things happening in my life, it's a shame not to talk about that."
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After a whirlwind courtship (but over a decade after the Dawson's Creek star crushed on him as a kid) punctuated by Cruise's epic declaration of love for Holmes on Oprah Winfrey's couch in May 2005, the couple welcomed daughter Suri in April 2006. Annie Leibovitz shot Suri's public debut, the October 2006 cover of Vanity Fair. TomKat tied the knot at a castle in Italy on Nov. 18, 2006.
"People are going to do what they're going to do," Cruise told MTV News in June 2005, talking about the public reaction to his reaction to being in love. "Here's the thing, you can't think about it in terms of what people are going to do or say. It's 'I want to share my life with this woman. This woman is exceptional, she's special, she's extraordinary and I have great respect for her.' It's someone who's saying 'I've got nothing to hide, I'm happy.' I'm happy, man!"
Asked about the possibility of acting together, he added, "I'd love to work with her, she's a great actress. I will work with her someday, no question."
Holmes filed for divorce in June 2012 and, thanks to their reportedly incredibly detailed prenup drafted by Martin Holmes, Katie's divorce attorney father, all was settled within two weeks. Again, religion was rumored to be the big sticking point, and a source told Us Weekly that Holmes had reached out to Nicole Kidman for support during the marriage's final days.
Aside from Cruise's extremely public outings with Suri to places like Disney World, Holmes was the one who was most often spotted with Suri. In December 2013, Cruise accepted a settlement in the $50 million defamation claim he brought against Bauer Media over a Life & Style story that claimed he had more or less abandoned his daughter.
"I don't want that moment in my life to define me, to be who I am," Holmes told People in October 2014, referring to her marriage to Cruise. "I don't want that to be what I'm known as. I was an actor before, an actor during and an actor now."
Hot on the heels of his divorce from Katie Holmes, Cruise was rumored to be dating his Knight & Day co-star.
The rumor wasn't true, but the pair did get along swimmingly on the set of the humorous action thriller.
Asked how she spent her 40th birthday (in a deposition for his suit against Bauer Media, Cruise had denied attending her b-day party in London in August 2012, though there were pictures of them taken that night), Diaz later explained on The Graham Norton Show, "I happened to bump into Penélope Cruz, Javier [Bardem], Tom and his son in a hotel and joined them for dinner. At midnight I said, 'I'm 40!' so we took pictures and then said, 'Goodnight, see you later, blah, blah, blah,' and I haven't seen him since.
"But the next thing I know, apparently I am dating him and it's full on and he is coming after me!"
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A rumor caught fire in 2014 that these two were dating, and their new romance was all anyone on the set of Orange Is the New Black could talk about. That turned out to be vehemently untrue, with reps on both sides denying it.
"It's just so funny that, when people don't know, they just make stuff up, [like] apparently I'm dating Tom Cruise right now," Prepon told She Knows. "And apparently he doesn't want me doing [OITNB] because I portray a lesbian and I'm a Scientologist."
She added, "This is false. Where are they even getting this stuff? It's unbelievable to me."
In October 2016, Us Weekly reported that Cruise had had a girlfriend for several months, an unnamed British woman whom the actor was said to be serious about. "Very normal and pretty" was how a source described her.
As of March 2017, Cruise was reportedly smitten with the British actress, who plays Princess Margaret in The Crown and will be in Mission: Impossible 6 with Cruise. She didn't help matters when she told the Times of London that she was seeing somebody under the radar.
But E! News heard that there was no truth to this rumor, either—though audiences can analyze the chemistry for themselves when the movie comes out in July 2018.
Meanwhile, though the ins and outs of his personal life remain a closely guarded secret, he has plenty of public engagements to get ready for.
In addition to M:I6, he's got Doug Liman's CIA thriller American Made coming out, he's attached to star in the sci-fi space flick Luna Park and Cruise just revealed that the need for speed is great enough—Top Gun 2 is happening.
Moreover, the The Mummy—which opens in theaters June 9—was recently branded part of Universal's Dark Universe featuring the studio's various classic monster properties, an indication of more films to come.
And when Tom Cruise has more good news to share, we have a feeling we'll hear about it.
(E! News and Universal Pictures are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)