ISSUE DATE: Dec. 25, 1989
ALSO APPEARED: Aug. 9, 1999 (with Nicole Kidman); July 1, 2002
America wants to go around with Tom Terrific — that’s how he looks, that’s how he makes moviegoers feel. They hitched a ride with him in Risky Business and made him a star at 21. They sat in the cockpit of his F-14 as he swaggered through the sky in Top Gun. They perched in a pool hall and watched him wield a cue like a master swordsman in The Color of Money. They flew to the Caribbean to join him in a frothy Cocktail. They traveled with him on a cross- country journey to fraternal reconciliation in Rain Man. And with each adventure, audiences adjusted their estimation of the young man — from Most Likely to Succeed to All-American Dreamboat to Serious Actor worth taking seriously.
At the end of the ’80s, Cruise, 27, is the movies’ biggest star, with nothing but promise on the horizon. Just ask two masters he has apprenticed with: Dustin Hoffman, the decade’s most lauded actor, and Paul Newman, the last golden exemplar of Hollywood star quality. “There’s no sense of a crest in Tom,” says Hoffman, who won an Oscar as Cruise’s brother in Rain Man. “His talent is young, his body is young, his spirit is young. He’s a Christmas tree — he’s lit from head to toe.” Newman, who played Cruise’s mentor in The Color of Money, considers the young actor’s competitors and says, “Tom may be the only survivor.”
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