Why Tom Cruise is Hollywood's last movie star

Jack reacher never go back paramountParamount‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.’

The hardest act to pull off in Hollywood is sustainability.

Whether you’re considered an A-list talent or one of the “it” young stars, at any second your stock can drop. And with tenacious paparazzi and social media now the norm, that mystique of movie stars is no more. Except for one — the actor who continues to have that movie-star aura and, frankly, is the last of them: Tom Cruise.

With the release of his latest action movie this Friday, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” Cruise is poised to rule the weekend box office once again, despite the film’s poor reviews (it currently has a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

But lacklustre reviews is nothing to Cruise. He’s dealt with a lot more going into a release.

In early 2015, the latest Cruise pile-on came when the documentary “Going Clear” revealed the misdeeds that allegedly occur at the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a devout supporter (according to the film, the actor may have known about some of the evil goings-on there). But that summer, we were gushing over his performance in “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” (which would go on to make over $680 million worldwide).

But that’s the magic of Cruise: With any negative press he receives, his movies always seem to cause us all to hit the reset button on him. Why is that? Because we can forgive our movie stars. If they can continue to entertain, all is forgiven.

Cruise was close to being thrown off his pedestal when the infamous couch jump on “Oprah” led to a domino effect of controversy for him. But he’s weathered that storm and is a bigger draw than ever, which is extremely rare.

Let’s look at his contemporaries, who are summed up in this photo from 1983’s “The Outsiders.

The outsidersWarner BrothersTom Cruise, Rob Lowe, C.Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, and Patrick Swayze in ‘The Outsiders.’

This was the future of Hollywood in the 1980s — Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and let’s also throw in Charlie Sheen and Mickey Rourke. They all had their time and today are nowhere near Cruise’s stardom. (Swayze died from pancreatic cancer in 2009.)

Cruise has topped them all thanks to being ahead of the curve — first in choosing dramatic projects (“Rain Man,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “A Few Good Men”) and then being America’s heartthrob (“Jerry Maguire”), and most recently turning into one of the few action stars who don’t need a comic-book franchise to back them (he’s made it clear he’s not so into the idea of wearing a cape).

Where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone failed at staying action stars, Cruise excelled by keeping his action as practical as possible and proudly saying that he does his own stunts. (He also quite clearly still hits the gym.)

Tom cruise mission impossible rogue oneBo Bridges/Paramount PicturesCruise in ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.’

But being a movie star also means knowing when to stay off the radar. Cruise has done this masterfully since the couch jump. And leading up to the release of “Going Clear,” he was mum, though some rumours have come out that Cruise has seen the movie and now wants to leave Scientology. True or not, it only helps his image going into this weekend.

You could argue that actors like Brad Pitt and George Clooney are at the same level of movie stardom as Cruise, but it’s not the same. The two don’t rake in the kind of box-office cash Cruise does (Cruise‘s films usually make at least $200 million; Pitt‘s and Clooney‘s films usually top $100-$150 million worldwide).

While Cruise has become one of the best at selling a movie all over the world, Pitt and Clooney take that under-the-radar stance a little too seriously. They pop out to sell their movies, but not with the globe-trotting gusto of Cruise. In fact, Cruise has pulled back on the throttle in his press for “Jack Reacher,” sticking to a couple late-night appearances, but it doesn’t matter — it still will likely be No. 1 this weekend at the box office.

There are a lot of popular actors in Hollywood, from the new breed like Chris Pratt to the ones who have blown us away for years yet are still somewhat harder to relate to, like Robert Downey Jr. But with Cruise, it’s different.

We’ve marveled at Cruise’s diversity as an actor throughout his career, the many iconic moments he’s given us (from sliding across the hall in his undies to “You Complete Me” to his “M:I” thrill seeker), and the energy he gives every role and press appearance. Perhaps that’s why we always find ourselves rooting for him.

NOW WATCH: This ‘Mission Impossible’ behind-the-scenes footage of a 53-year-old Tom Cruise hanging off a plane is terrifying

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