Tom Cruise’s 10 Most Iconic Performances

  
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Tom Cruise has some serious acting chops. And really great hair. You’ve likely noticed one, the other… or both. Sure, his Achilles heel has stemmed from some personal misgivings and a life in the public eye, but when it comes to what he does for the camera, few have done it better. We have collected his 10 most iconic performances — check it out!

10. Cole Trickle – Days of Thunder

Maybe Days of Thunder beat out something like Rain Man based on the character name alone: Cole Trickle. If ever there were a fictional stock car driver who you’d swear were a real dude, it’s Cole Trickle. In addition to being an awesomely cheesy romp from the 1980s into the 1990s, Days of Thunder served as the first time Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman worked together. Does the story hold up? Sure. Why not? It’s about racin’ in a specific time period. Of course it holds up. And the on-screen chemistry between Tom and Nicole is all that. It really is. What is it about Tom Cruise in a cockpit going really fast that is so attractive to film audiences?

PREMIUM -- DAYS OF THUNDER

PREMIUM — DAYS OF THUNDER

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9. Nathan Algren – The Last Samurai

The character of Nathan Algren was one of Tom’s best turns for the silver screen. A former U.S. Civil War Army Captain, and individual responsible for running Native Americans off land by any means necessary, Nathan Algren has become a functional alcoholic with more snide and snark than is appreciated by his peers. He is hired to help “westernize” the Japanese military in the late 19th century, but finds himself entrenched with the last of a Samurai culture. Tom is able to play on his strengths, which is physicality and practical stunts — as well as his emotional vulnerability — to craft a very powerful performance. The film is absolutely stunning, and as a little bonus trivia: it was shot in New Zealand, as opposed to Japan. The story is solid, and it’ll likely jerk a few tears from most viewers.

 (c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

(c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

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