Tom Cruise’s 10 most controversial moments

Tom Cruise on the set of Mission: Impossible with Hayley Atwell (Rex Features)
Tom Cruise on the set of Mission: Impossible with Hayley Atwell (Rex Features)

In an era when the Hollywood A-lister seems to have all but disappeared, Tom Cruise is starting to cut a lonely figure at the top.

The actor has remained one of the film industry’s biggest stars for decades, through his roles in hit blockbusters including the Mission: Impossible franchise.

However, Cruise is also known to steal the limelight for more than just his acting performances, with the Jerry Maguire star becoming notorious for his outlandish off-screen behaviour.

Most recently, Cruise was recorded screaming at crew members on the forthcoming Mission Impossible 7 for failing to heed Covid-19 safety measures.

The explosive rant made headlines when it was leaked to the public, but it is just the latest in a line of strange and outrageous incidents involving the actor.

From arguments and injuries to declarations of love, there’s no shortage of variety in Tom Cruise headlines.

See below for a list of 10 of Cruise’s most attention-grabbing moments.

Jumping on Oprah’s sofa

Inarguably Cruise’s most notorious incident, his 2005 interview on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show remains one of the most bizarre public displays of affection ever committed to video.

Though he was only appearing on the series to promote his role in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, people quickly forgot about the film entirely.

Declaring his love for Katie Holmes, the Batman Begins actor whom he was then dating (and who would later become his wife, before divorcing in 2012), Cruise was seen manically jumping up and down on Oprah’s furniture. He would later parody the moment when appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

A stunt gone wrong

Cruise is well-known for performing his own stunts in films, with the Mission: Impossible franchise providing a wealth of opportunities to indulge his inner daredevil.

However, after scaling the world’s tallest building, and being launched into the air tied to the outside of an airplane, a stunt in Mission: Impossible Fallout took a heavy toll on the actor.

As Cruise jumped from one rooftop to another, he broke his ankle, in a grisly clip which he shared on The Graham Norton show.

Scientology video

Cruise’s membership of the Church of Scientology is well-known to the public, though many were surprised when a promotional video leaked to the public in 2008, featuring the Magnolia star.

His strange, intense and mercurial delivery as he discusses the benefits of scientology left fans appropriately bewildered.

The Matt Lauer interview

Another of Cruise’s most infamous appearances saw him quarrel with Matt Lauer during a 2005 interview on the Today Show.

After Brooke Shields admitted using anti-depressants to medicate post-partum depression, Cruise spoke out against prescription drugs, and about the practice of psychiatry, which he called a “pseudo-science”.

“Here’s the problem: you don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do,” he told Lauer, later admitting that his conduct in the interview came across as arrogant.

Watch: Hollywood reacts to Tom Cruise’s recorded COVID-19 tirade

The water prank

Though Cruise has given a few confrontational interviews in his time, he can probably be excused for being a little peeved with Channel 4 during a red carpet encounter in 2005.

After the interviewer, who, unbeknownst to Cruise, was part of a prank show, sprayed the actor in the face with a small jet of water, Cruise said: “That’s incredibly rude. I’m here giving you an interview.”

Cruise then repeatedly called the interviewer a “jerk”, in a clip that circulated online. After the police reportedly became involved, Channel 4 issued an apology to Cruise for the stunt.

MTV awards

Cruise undertook what might be his weirdest film role in 2008’s Tropic Thunder, as the balding, paunchy studio executive Les Grossman.

Almost unrecognisable in the part, Cruise then reprised the character for a bizarre dance during the 2010 MTV Awards, in which he danced on-stage next to Jennifer Lopez.

<p>Lopez and Cruise at the MTV Awards</p>Getty Images

Lopez and Cruise at the MTV Awards

Getty Images

Accepting the Scientology award

In 2004, Cruise was awarded the Freedom Medal of Valour for Achievement in the Field of Excellence by the Church of Scientology.

His strange acceptance speech, in which he addressed a painting of the church’s founder, sci-fi novelist L Ron Hubbard, was leaked online years later, leading to some mirth and bemusement among Cruise’s fans from outside the organisation.

The 60 Minutes Australia interview

It might not be as disastrous as his interview with Matt Lauer, but Cruise’s appearance on 60 Minutes Australia makes for tense and uncomfortable viewing nonetheless.

After reporter Peter Overton pushes Cruise with questions about his first wife, the actor Nicole Kidman, Cruise eventually loses patience, saying: “Listen, here’s the thing, Peter, you’re stepping over a line now… and you know you are. I’m just telling you right now. Put your manners back in.”

Watch: George Clooney defends Tom Cruise over on set COVID outburst

The hysterical anecdote

Less awkward or confrontational than simply confusing, Cruise’s appearance on David Letterman’s late night talk show in the mid-Noughties saw the actor laugh for several minutes straight.

Trying to relate an anecdote about his latest movie, Cruise cracks up near the beginning of the interview, and doesn’t stop laughing for the duration.

Lucky for him, everyone around him also saw the funny side – including Letterman himself, who soon joins him in peels of laughter – but the unexplained fit of near-hysteria endures as one of Cruise’s most peculiar appearances.

Covid rant

Cruise’s most recent headlines also rank among the actor’s most outlandish, as he was captured on audio furiously berating the crew of Mission Impossible 7 for failing to follow Covid-19 safety rules.

“If I see you do it again, you're f***ing gone,” he says in the clip, obtained by The Sun, adding: “We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we’re doing.

“We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf***ers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!”

Fans were divided over the outburst. Some took issue with Cruise’s aggressive tone and use of explicit language, while others agreed with his points, claiming he was taking a stand for health and safety during the global pandemic.

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