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"Mission" Man: At a recent press conference in Rome, Tom Cruise is all smiles.  Center: sharing a laugh with newly-minted Oscar winner (and film villain) Philip Seymour Hoffman; hugging M: I: III director J.J. Abrams.
Photos: Paramount.

The man who seemingly has everything also appears to have gained one thing: true happiness.  The 43-year-old megastar became a father on April 18, when wife-to-be Katie Holmes gave birth to a baby girl named Suri.  Since then, Tom Cruise, whose film "Mission: Impossible III" opens on Friday worldwide, has been the beneficiary of very little sleep as he does publicity for the much-delayed film sequel to the popular 1960's television series.  By the time you have read this story, Mr. Cruise will have traveled to London, Paris, Rome, Mexico City, New York City and Los Angeles for Paramount Pictures' film, which is directed by J.J. Abrams. 

The film underwent several shifts, including directors.  Joe Carnahan who directed "Narc", a film produced by Mr. Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner, was originally slated to direct "M:i:III".  Scarlett Johansson was rumored to star in the film.  Instead, J.J. Abrams, the writer of the hit television series "Lost", directed the film.  And in came actors Keri Russell and Michelle Monaghan, who plays the fiancee of Cruise's Ethan Hunt character.  Other cast newcomers include Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose star shines ever brighter following his Oscar-winning turn in "Capote" back in March.  Mr. Hoffman plays the villain in this latest installment.  Asian star Maggie Q is a cast addition, and Laurence Fishburne, currently on screen in "Akeelah and The Bee", also joins the cast.  Ving Rhames returns for a third time as Ethan Hunt's right hand man.

Over the last year, Mr. Cruise has been the recipient of heavy criticism from the American press for his comments to the Today show's Matt Lauer ("you don't know the history of psychiatry, Matt, I do"); remarks about Brooke Shields and her battle with post-partum depression critiquing her use of medication; and even from those who question the authenticity of his relationship with Ms. Holmes.  Each time, Mr. Cruise has been Teflon Tom.  He enjoys worldwide support from a staggering fan base, and after all these years still cannot put a foot wrong at the box office, whether domestically or internationally.  Each of his last six films has opened at number one at the domestic box office, and virtually all of his films dating back to the 1980's have opened in the top spot in North America.

Mr. Cruise's versatility has grown over the 27 years that he has starred in Hollywood films, and he has left his mark not only on the box-office, but on a resume that is the envy of many in Hollywood.  He has collaborated with some of the world's top directors: John Woo, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Oliver Stone, among others.  In 2004 in the film "Collateral" he played a full-fledged villain for the first time opposite Jamie Foxx in the Michael Mann-directed film, and five years earlier appeared in a small role in "Magnolia", the Paul Thomas Anderson film, a role which earned Mr. Cruise an Oscar nomination.  In "Mission: Impossible III" as in "Mission 2", he did almost all of his own stunts, saying in one publication that "it had to look real".  Mr. Cruise's reputation as an extraordinarily hard worker was documented in a recent appearance on a TV entertainment special about the Tribeca Film Festival, where "Mission III" director J.J. Abrams said that on the film's production in the dead of night, Mr. Cruise would show up riding his motorbike, eager to get going hours beforehand.

In an interview in 2002 Mr. Cruise attributed his two-decade-plus run at the top of movie-world stardom to Scientology, of which he is a devout follower.  In part he said that it taught him to be aware of situations where people claimed to be aiding him, but instead were out to harm and undermine him. 

Even though the energetic star was firmly atop the pecking order in Hollywood, Mr. Cruise decided to shake things up.  After a long and illustrious relationship with Pat Kingsley, the top publicity agent in the country, he changed course, hiring his own sister in 2005 to run public relations.  The international star has since hired a new publicity person. 

Most recently, he opened up to Dotson Rader in an interview that appeared in the April 9 Parade magazine, where he detailed his painful childhood, of having dyslexia, of having an abusive father, and of moving from school to school in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  "I had no really close friend, someone who understands you.  I was always the new kid with the wrong shoes, the wrong accent."  In a measure of proof that Mr. Cruise really is on cloud nine, in the same interview he says, "let me tell you what happiness is -- it's being able to confront and overcome problems.  It's not running away but trying to see life in its full glory."

For Tom Cruise, an "Impossible" journey of ups and numerous downs early on in life has evolved into a happy and content state of being. 


Michelle Monaghan in Paramount Pictures' Mission: Impossible III    Laurence Fishburne in Paramount Pictures' Mission: Impossible III     Jonathan Rhys-Meyers , Ving Rhames , Tom Cruise and Maggie Q in Paramount Pictures' Mission: Impossible III
Co-star Michelle Monaghan plays the fiancee of Ethan Hunt, Mr. Cruise's character; Laurence Fishburne (center) and Mr. Cruise with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Ving Rhames and Maggie Q.  Photos: Paramount


Read the "Mission: Impossible III" movie review


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