Tom Cruise has known unparalleled success and public scrutiny as one of the most famous—and well-paid—actors of his generation. Cruise, born July 3, 1962, to Mary Lee and Thomas Cruise Mapother III in Syracuse, N.Y., moved around with his family, attending a dozen schools in as many years. When he was 12, he left with his mother from Ottawa, Ontario, to escape his father’s abuse (Cruise told Parade in 2006 that his father was “a bully and a coward—the person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you.”) and returned to the U.S. Cruise hoped to become a Franciscan priest, but dropped his pursuit in favor of moving to New York to study acting. He’s had success at acting. Priestlike living? We’ll let you judge.
Tom Cruise at 50: Where Does the Newly Single Star Go From Here?
Cruise celebrates his 50th birthday on July 3 — just days after his third wife, Katie Holmes, filed for divorce. TIME looks back at all the blockbuster movies, love interests, couch-jumping and Scientology videos that have shaped his career