Show Me the Movies! Check Out Tom Cruise's Most Iconic Roles Over the Last Three Decades

By Johnni Macke Jul 03, 2019 3:00 PMTags
NOV. 15, 9PM
Tom Cruise's Best RolesE! Illustration

Show me the birthday!

Today is Tom Cruise's birthday—he's turning 57 years old—which means everyone should be showing him some birthday love and quoting his iconic movies.

From "show me the money" to "I feel the need...the need for speed," Cruise's most memorable film roles come with some pretty great lines and it really makes us love him and his work even more.

Beginning in the '80s, the New York native has been a Hollywood staple and we are grateful that he is. He's made girls swoon in films like Risky Business and Top Gun and kicked butt in action movies like Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher.

He's been nominated for three Academy Awards for his work in Magnolia, Jerry Maguire and Born on the Fourth of July, and let's be honest, he could've been nominated for way more based on his epic catalog of work.

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For starters, there was The Outsiders and Cocktail as well as Rain Man and A Few Good Men. Of course we can't forget Eyes Wide Shut, Minority Report and The Last Samurai.

These films are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cruise's best movies. See them all below and make sure to vote for your favorite.

Warning: the actor has been in the game for three decades so there are a lot of roles to look back on and they are all amazing.

As you decide what Cruise film is the best of them all, why not wish the star a happy birthday and then re-watch all of his greatest hits all week long!

The Outsiders

Two years after his debut movie, Tom Cruise appeared in The Outsiders, which is about his character Steve Randle and his fellow Greasers who take on the rival Socs. 

Risky Business

With his parents away, Cruise's teenage Joel is ready to play, and then some in this iconic movie that really put him on the map.

Top Gun

He's got the need for speed! Cruise's Maverick is a fighter pilot working to graduate at the top of weapons school in this classic '80s film. 

The Color of Money

Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) teaches cocky, but talented Vincent (Cruise) how to hustle pool, which inevitably helps him make an unlikely comeback.

Cocktail

A bartender (Cruise) finds love while slinging drinks in Jamaica in this flick.

Rain Man

After his father dies, selfish Charlie Babbit (Cruise) embarks on a cross-country road trip with his brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) who is autistic. 

Born on the Fourth of July

Born on the Fourth of July follows a paralyzed Vietnam veteran (Cruise) who becomes a human rights activist. 

A Few Good Men

Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Cruise) wants the truth when a group of Marines are on trial for murder. 

The Firm

Mitch McDeere (Cruise) is a young lawyer who after accepting an offer from "The Firm" discovers there is a much darker side to his new employers.

Interview With the Vampire

Vampire Lestat (Cruise) takes a plantation owner (Brad Pitt) under his wing after turning him in this movie from 1994.

Mission: Impossible

Cue the theme music! Cruise first took on the role of American agent, Ethan Hunt in the 1996 film, which has grown into a six-movie franchise. 

Jerry Maguire

Show me the money! When he's down to his last client, sports agent Jerry Maguire (Cruise) will do just about anything to keep the star athlete happy. 

Eyes Wide Shut

In Stanley Kubrick's last film, Cruise plays a doctor who finds himself in danger after attending a mysterious sex party. 

Magnolia

The 1999 film earned Cruise a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Frank T.J. Mackey, who is one of many characters interrelated in this story of love, forgiveness and more in the San Fernando Valley.

Mission: Impossible II

In the sequel, Agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) goes to Sydney, Australia in order to destroy genetically modified disease.

Vanilla Sky

Talk about a bad dream: A rich playboy (Cruise) experiences an alternate reality after a car accident. 

Minority Report

The head of the Pre-crime division, Chief John Anderton (Cruise), must clear his name after one of his Pre-Cogs predict he will commit a murder. 

The Last Samurai

A Civil War veteran named Nathan Algren (Cruise) travels to Japan and is captured by Samurai forces. 

Collateral

A hitman (Cruise) enlists a cab driver (Jamie Foxx) to chauffeur him from hit to hit. 

War of the Worlds

When aliens attack, Ray (Cruise) fights for his family's survival. 

Mission: Impossible III

In the third Mission: Impossible film, Agent Hunt (Cruise) must deal with a dangerous arms dealer who threatens his and his fiancée's lives.

 

Lions for Lambs

The actor plays a senator campaigning for president in this 2007 war thriller.

Tropic Thunder

Nice moves! Cruise's character, Hollywood mogul Les Grossman steals the show in the 2008 comedy. 

Valkyrie

Cruise's Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg leads the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hilter in the dramatized historical film. 

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

In 2011, Cruise reprised his role once again, this time his character Ethan goes rogue to clear his organization's name after the IMF is shut down.

 

Rock of Ages

The New York native plays a rocker living it up on the Sunset Strip during the '80s in this Broadway show turned movie. 

Jack Reacher

A former soldier named Jack Reacher (Cruise) is on the run after being implicated as the shooter in a sniper's rampage in Pittsburgh. 

Edge of Tomorrow

Two soldiers travel through time to defeat extraterrestrials attacking Earth, over and over again. 

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

The fifth Mission: Impossible film focuses on Ethan (Cruise) and his team eradicating the Syndicate, which is a group dedicated to destroying the IMF.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher (Cruise) must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy that could clear his name in the action film's 2016 sequel.

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Poll

Tom Cruise's Best Roles

Which Tom Cruise role is his very best?
The Outsiders
1.1%
Risky Business
0.5%
Top Gun
23.5%
The Color of Money
0%
Cocktail
1.6%
Rain Man
4.8%
Born on the Fourth of July
2.7%
A Few Good Men
12.8%
The Firm
0.5%
Interview With the Vampire
11.8%
Mission: Impossible
2.1%
Jerry Maguire
7.5%
Eyes Wide Shut
0.5%
Magnolia
3.2%
Mission: Impossible II
0%
Vanilla Sky
1.1%
Minority Report
1.1%
The Last Samurai
4.3%
Collateral
3.2%
War of the Worlds
0.5%
Mission: Impossible III
0%
Lions for Lambs
0%
Tropic Thunder
1.1%
Valkyrie
0.5%
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
2.7%
Rock of Ages
2.7%
Jack Reacher
0.5%
Edge of Tomorrow
2.1%
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
0.5%
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
0.5%
The Mummy
0%
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
6.4%