How Katie Holmes Completely Reinvented Her Life After Her Marriage to Tom Cruise Ended

After the romantic bubble burst, the actress and mom fearlessly embarked on a quest to do exactly what she wanted, personally and professionally

By Natalie Finn Dec 18, 2018 11:00 AMTags
Katie Homes, Birthday FeatureShutterstock; Getty Images/E! Illustration

In early 2005, Katie Holmes' life was going in a certain direction.

She was playing the love of Bruce Wayne's life in Batman Begins, the first film in Christopher Nolan's hotly anticipated trilogy about the Caped Crusader, due out that June. And Thank You for Smoking, in which she played a manipulative reporter who has an affair with a tobacco lobbyist, would have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival that September.

So Holmes' year definitely began with certain hopes, dreams and expectations. Just two years removed from ending up with Pacey on Dawson's Creek, the 26-year-old actress had already put her Joey Potter days firmly behind her.

Then she met Tom Cruise.

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But it wasn't just the unbelievable story of a young star who as a kid had once tacked his picture to her bedroom wall getting to be his girlfriend in real life (and in short succession his fiancée, mother of his child and wife) that piqued the world's fancy. It was how the world found out about it.

"You're gone," Oprah Winfrey told Cruise as he giddily declared himself down for the count and punctuated his love for Katie with a hop onto Oprah's couch—and into pop culture history—in May 2005.

As his former wife remembers: "He basically swept me off my feet. 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."

Steve Granitz/

Now, that actually wasn't said by Katie Holmes. Rather, it's what the second Mrs. Cruise, Nicole Kidman, told Vanity Fair in retrospect, piecing together how it all began after it had all ended in 2001.

But in hindsight, that certainly sounds familiar.

Once it became apparent that this unprecedented display of emotion wasn't a massive publicity stunt for their dual June openings, hers Batman Begins and his War of the Worlds, so began the era of TomKat.

Over the first year of their courtship and during Holmes' pregnancy, there was a lot of fiction to separate from fact. A sonogram machine in the house! Contracts! Religious differences! Aliens! Where did this baby really come from...? The reveal of the Vanity Fair cover sporting the first photo of them with their daughter Suri Cruise promptly became the only thing anyone remembered about Katie Couric's debut as anchor of the CBS Evening News

"Katie actually took me aside and said 'I want to talk to you privately about how all the rumors in the press have really hurt me, hurt my family,'" Jane Sarkin, Vanity Fair's features editor, said on CBS' Early Show after the shoot. "[Holmes said,] 'I just want to be happy. I just want to take care of my children. I'm planning a wedding. I'm so excited. I'm so in love with Tom. We're so happy together,' and the rumors really hurt her."

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That period of unbridled love also coincided with the timely unraveling of Cruise's previously stalwart defenses against bad PR, as he tangled with Matt Lauer on Today, insulted Brooke Shields and heatedly rejected the field of psychiatry. In the summer of 2006, Cruise's production company parted ways with Paramount after 14 years, prompting numerous dirges to be played (prematurely, as it turned out) for the career of one Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

"Some of the stuff [people said] was such absolutely horrible things to say about a child," Holmes remembered some of the most appalling headlines about her family a few years later to Glamour. "It was so uncalled for and so disgusting. Enough is enough."

So, by the time Holmes and Cruise got married—in a castle in Italy in November 2006, part of a long destination weekend that reportedly cost upward of $3 million—there had already been so much to unpack.

And that included the rumor that Cruise had influenced the final cut of Thank You for Smoking, the actor not wanting his wife in an extended nude scene with co-star Aaron Eckhart. There was a brief, purposely unromantic sex scene between the two in the theatrical version, but Sundance was abuzz in January 2006 wondering if a raunchier scene had been omitted after its premiere at TIFF in 2005.

"Well, first of all, there are no compromising positions in the film. It's a very tame scene," director Jason Reitman said on Fox News' The Big Story With John Gibson in March 2006. "I don't want anybody to be disappointed when they see it. It's nothing but humorous humping really. And the last time I talked to Tom Cruise, I was 14 years old and he made no mention of the scene then."

But the world was pretty ready to believe, even so early on in Holmes and Cruise's relationship, that he hadn't wanted the goddess who seemingly he alone called "Kate" to be getting too freaky onscreen.

Warner Bros. Pictures

And then, in 2007, Holmes walked away from the Batman sequel, due to "scheduling conflicts." Of course there was an accompanying rumor—untrue—that she was fired because Warner Bros. didn't like how Cruise had sucked all the publicity air out of the room ahead of the film's June 2005 release. But the very possibility that Cruise was involved in Holmes' decision to leave, even voluntarily, carried enough intrigue on its own. (The scheduling conflicts may have also been referring to her husband's schedule. Cruise told Playboy in 2012, not long before they split up, "When Kate's shooting, I'm there with her and the kids. We're always together.")

Nolan wanted her to reprise the role but Holmes "wasn't available," was all the filmmaker said before The Dark Knight came out—starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as the new Rachel Dawes. In 2012, ahead of the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Morgan Freeman shot down an old rumor that he took issue with how Cruise was seemingly controlling Holmes during the Batman Begins press tour seven years prior. "I don't recall any knowledge of how Katie was even treated," Freeman, who had just shot Oblivion with Cruise, told Newsweek. "I don't know anything about it, really, and I certainly never commented on it."

And Holmes certainly wasn't going to dredge it up when Business Insider asked her in 2016 about her one-and-done turn as Rachel. 

"You know, I really enjoyed working on the first one and I wish I could have worked with Chris Nolan again and I hope to work with him again," she said. "It was a decision that I made at that time and it was right for me at that moment, so I don't have any regrets. I think that Maggie did a wonderful job."

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But career-wise, just as she was starting to zig, life zagged. The film work Holmes did do during her marriage is for the most part forgettable, starting with the heist comedy Mad Money, which came out in 2008, and ending with one of the worst of Adam Sandler's oeuvre, Jack and Jill.

She was admittedly more interested in being a hands-on mom than anything else at the time, telling Glamour in 2009, "We're all together. We like to be together, so we use the house for our [business] meetings. [We] play Yahtzee, board games, Scrabble. We grill; have pool parties. We play "The Three Little Pigs" and Suri is the Big Bad Wolf. [Tom] reads storybooks to Suri, and we all laugh. When a good song comes on, he'll break out in a dance. We'll watch movies in bed—recently Madagascar and Cinderella, for Suri. We really have a good time."

But she did pursue numerous other opportunities, making her Broadway debut in 2008, in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, which fulfilled a lifelong dream, and launching a fashion line with her stylist friend Jeanne Yang.  

Asked if she ever felt consumed by Cruise's shadow, she told Glamour, "From an early age I knew that I wanted to be in this business. So I did everything I could to get here, and when I met Tom, I knew in an instant that we were going to be together, that we were going to get married. He does have a very big life. And you know, we just do it. And, as a woman, you make that transition from being single to [being] a partner. I have a teammate, and it's like, we're going to make this work."

Asylum Entertainment

She also memorably played first lady Jacqueline Kennedy—although that too was not without its controversies, particularly when The History Channel rejected the 2011 miniseries The Kennedys for being "not a fit for the History brand" and it had to find a new home on Reelz. The end result ended up being prestigious enough, however, with 10 Emmy nominations and four wins, including for hair styling and makeup.

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Also in 2011, however, Holmes sued Star for $50 million over a cover that blared, "Katie Drug Shocker!"—under which it read, "The real reason she can't leave Tom."

The inside story wasn't even about drugs—and what it was about (Scientology) wasn't true, either, her camp insisted. "Not only do they cruelly defame Katie, they play a cheap trick on the public, making ridiculously false claims on the cover unsupported by anything inside," attorney Bert Fields, also Cruise's attorney for decades, said in a statement at the time. Holmes called it "beyond the pale."

The tabloid ended up issuing an apology and making a donation to Dizzy Feet Foundation, the dance education charity she co-founded with So You Think You Can Dance co-creator Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman and others in the dance and theater world.

But though that cover missed the mark, Holmes' marriage was starting to break down behind the scenes. To this day she herself hasn't breathed a word in public about what, exactly, led to the end—and neither has Cruise, though his mysterious private life has led to plenty of guesses.


Holmes filed for divorce in June 2012 and, thanks to an ironclad prenuptial agreement, 53 days later it was all over.

With Suri her number-one priority, Holmes acquired a new place for the two of them in New York and so began her revamped existence as Katie Holmes—the actress and mom whose life had briefly become all about being married to Tom Cruise and who never wanted that to be the case again.

She had her friends and family, including her parents in Ohio and four siblings, to turn to—as well as numerous fans who, if there were gonna be teams, certainly wanted to play for her.

At first she laid low: She chose to skip the annual Dizzy Feet Foundation gala at the last moment, the party falling barely a month after the split news broke. "While she is very upset and disappointed that she is not here, we all agree that her attendance would make her the spotlight of the evening and it would distract from what tonight is all about: dance and the arts," Lythgoe and Shankman told attendees at the top of the evening.

It wasn't long, however, before Holmes emerged and started to go about her life again, almost as if nothing had happened.

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Wanting to live and work in New York so Suri could get used to a regular schedule for awhile, Holmes headed back to Broadway that November in Dead Accounts.

Humberto Carreno/

"I've just been impressed by her work ethic, honestly, and her ability as a single mom, to juggle being an awesome mom," Judy Greer, one of her co-stars in the Theresa Rebeck play, told Vanity Fair. "She's like got a kid, she works out every day, she's cooking dinner at night for her daughter, she manages to go and get her a new dress if she has a special thing, going to her lessons after's pretty impressive. She's pretty impressive.

"I've rarely seen her without a giant cup of coffee in her hand, I will say that."

Holmes eventually lined up a new slate of movies, including The GiverWoman in Gold and Miss Meadows, in which she plays a tap-dancing school teacher who basically moonlights as Charles Bronson in Death Wish, bumping off criminals and assorted bad guys as she sees fit.

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So variety remained the spice of life for Holmes in her work. And it was all about reinvention—as well as a return to where she left off.

In 2014 she shuttered Holmes & Yang, the clothing line she co-founded in 2009, explaining, "I am now concentrating on acting and motherhood, which did not leave the label the time and attention it deserved."

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Holmes signed on for the third season of Ray Donovan, which aired in 2015, and got ready to make her directing debut with the mother-daughter drama All We Had, which she also starred in with Luke Wilson and Greer.

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"I don't have any fear now, I don't have a lot of rules for myself, and I don't take myself that seriously," Holmes told People in October 2014. "I feel ready for new challenges."

She didn't have much to say about the six years that everyone was dying to know about, stating firmly, "I don't want that moment in my life to define me, to be who I am. I don't want that to be what I'm known as. I was an actor before, an actor during and an actor now."

We're getting there.

Paparazzi continued to trail Katie and Suri seemingly everywhere they went—but Holmes was shockingly nice about it, so long as they didn't get out of hand (which they did on occasion). But she refused to be a hermit or otherwise not go out and do as she pleased, taking Suri to school and gymnastics lessons and riding the subway like your average New Yorker.

Holmes even joined Instagram, where she occasionally shares a photo of her mini-me daughter.


And once Suri was a little older, Holmes got more relaxed about taking her to places where she knew they would be photographed, such as concerts, the theater and Knicks games at Madison Square Garden—normal kid-parent stuff for most people, but possible hornet nests of frustration for celebs whose back story precedes them most everywhere they go. 

Holmes may not be as keen on the idea of her daughter being an actress—as she predicted in 2011 to InStyle that the already "amazing athlete, singer and dancer" would be—but should the now 12-year-old Suri want to give it a go, her ever-supportive mom will be there for her.

Monica Schipper/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

But though Holmes is out and about enough—in movies, on TV, at charity galas, parties and premieres, and on social media—to be considered not especially elusive, she has been awfully cagey about one thing.

After suffering the heartbreak and headache of her marriage ending, Holmes definitively decided that she would never go through anything remotely like it again. (Which was unlikely anyway, but she made a concerted effort.)

Once she was single, it didn't take all that long for Holmes to find a guy she fancied. It just took exponentially longer to be ready to go public. Ish.

Six years after he denied the first round of dating rumors with an amused chuckle and a joke about Colin PowellJamie Foxx and Holmes are now so serious they could be getting married any minute, having never walked a red carpet or purposely posed for any public photographs together. Only in the last 12 months have they even been in the same frame long enough for anyone to get a clear shot, the first since 2013 when they were just a couple of acquaintances rocking out at a charity benefit in the Hamptons.

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For years they were so good about arriving at their intended destination separately, ducking photographers and keeping a tight lid on who in their inner circle knew what, they just as easily could have been not in a relationship all this time. Sometimes there is no there there, and Foxx and Holmes were right on the brink of being the phoenix of couples—possessors of an intriguing origin story, but ultimately a myth.

However, sources insisted repeatedly that they were definitely a couple (albeit not engaged, married or expecting—or breaking up—as rumor would have it at times), and had simply fallen into an elusive groove that suited them.

Holmes, meanwhile, went about her life. While in L.A. for work or to visit Foxx, she stuck to her usual routine of workouts, coffee, working, seeing friends and mothering Suri while based at home in a gated community in Calabasas. She directed her movie and played Jackie Kennedy again in The Kennedys: Decline and Fall. Foxx had some milestones too, including watching his daughter Corinne Foxx serve as Miss Golden Globe in 2016 and then graduate from college.

In 2016 Holmes was there and cheering audibly when he performed with Barbra Streisand at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, but their date nights did not yet extend to just sitting side-by-side anywhere an in-house photographer would be snapping away.

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It seemed like an odd way to go for Holmes, who seemingly would have been craving normalcy after her endlessly scrutinized marriage. But then again, considering what sort of media frenzy she endured while she was with Cruise, and the attention it siphoned away from her work, it wasn't that hard to believe she would rather go to great lengths to keep a big question mark attached to her relationship status than share any clue whatsoever as to what she was up to in her private life.

Not that the wheels don't spin without her.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS

When shots of her and Foxx strolling cozily on the beach in Malibu over Labor Day weekend were published last year, the first photographic evidence that they intentionally were spending time together, just the two of them, there instantly arose speculation that Holmes was finally past the expiration date of some sort of five-year no-public-relationships pact she had with Cruise.

But the phantom five-year mark since Holmes' divorce didn't exactly send her and Foxx racing to the step-and-repeat.

Over the last year, however, they've been positively prolific compared to years past. Holmes didn't go through pains to hide herself from cameras at Foxx's 50th birthday party last December, and they looked pretty happy sitting closely at Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammys party in January. In July a photographer found them in Malibu playing beach volleyball and sharing a kiss on a blanket in the sand.

"They still plan to keep their relationship private. This is what has worked for them and what they are comfortable with," a source told E! News earlier this year. "They aren't a couple who is going to stroll down the street holding hands. They just want to stay off the radar and keep it to themselves. They have a routine that works well."

Recently they've been sharing a rental home off and on in New Orleans—but their schedules are currently linked up beautifully, just in times for the holidays and Holmes' 40th birthday Tuesday.

Work has brought them both to the Big Easy, where they cohabitate when they're both in town, Foxx for the Starz series Power and Holmes for the big-screen adaptation of, most fittingly, The Secret.

"She has become a bit more relaxed, because she knows [their relationship] is the worst-kept secret," a source told E! News this summer. "Once they were photographed a few times she stopped worrying as much...She wants to just live her life."

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