One of the biggest film stars of all time, Tom Cruise is a known entity in nearly every country on this planet. Able to make his name because of the many blockbuster movies he has headlined, he is most renowned for films like the Mission: Impossible franchise, Top Gun, and Minority Report to name only a few. Also a talented actor that has given several stellar performances, he earned rave reviews because of his work in Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, and Collateral among others.
As celebrated as Tom’s career has been, for good reason, his image is not one-dimensional in the least. We say that in part because he has been an ambassador for a major “religion” for a number of years. On top of that, he also has been interviewed again and again over his career, and that has resulted in some pretty awkward moments that have become the thing of legend. As a result of all that, we see him as an immensely talented and successful professional who can be seen as out-of-touch or otherwise weird in his personal life. Realizing all of that is what inspired us to put together this list of the twenty most awkward photos of Tom Cruise he doesn’t want you to see.
In order for a photo to be up for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost must feature Tom Cruise in one way or another. For the purposes of this list, the inclusion of another person does not disqualify an image, and in some cases, they add context that helped them make the cut. On top of that, screengrabs of him from movies, TV shows, interviews, and other public appearances are all fair game as we’d be silly to leave them out. With all of that in mind, let’s get to the list.
20 Act Of Kindness
Someone who has been held on a pedestal throughout almost the entirety of his adult life, it would be easy to assume that Tom Cruise sees himself as being above the masses. However, in a lot of cases, that doesn’t appear to be the case as he has gone out of his way on behalf of others in the past. A small example of that, here we see him taking time out of his evening to check on the well-being of someone he probably has a lot of reason to detest. Bending down to help a paparazzo that fell in front of him, other photographers captured this moment of humanity. A group of people that follow him wherever he goes and have taken photos of his daughter as she desperately tries to cover her face, he could easily loathe them as a group. A cool moment on the face of things, in actuality, we find this moment awkward as we wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he fell on purpose so his pals could take photos to sell.
19 Pit Stains
Seen here at a fan screening for the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol that was held in 2011, as fans of the series ourselves, we can say that we would have been incredibly stoked to be there. With followers of the franchise invited to not only view the movie that night but also given the opportunity to ask a question, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of them. However, for the director and actors present, it was just another night aside from the fact that they were packed into a room with a large group of people. With so many people present, it is easy to imagine that the screening room was affected by the massive body heat present and became quite warm. At least, that appears to be the case based on the large sweat stains Tom has got going on here.
18 Crazed Smile
Someone who, in a lot of ways, seems to have been born to be a movie star, from a genetics point of view, Tom Cruise is pretty close to pitch perfect in that regard. Without a doubt a good-looking man that comes across extremely well when he is put on film, to say that the camera loves him seems like a pretty huge understatement. On top of that, one of the most important things an actor needs to be capable of is showcasing emotion, and Tom has one heck of an expressive face. A perfect example of that, this shot of him with a smile that can best be described as crazed is saying an awful lot. Sadly, a big part of that involves him looking like he is a little bit insane.
17 Filming Out Of Context
An actor of the highest caliber, Tom Cruise is most often taken very seriously for his ability to give people inspiration to reflect on their lives or otherwise exhilarate them. That said, at the end of the day, his job involves him dressing up and pretending to be something that he is not in front of cameras. Fortunately, when the resulting footage is painstakingly looked over and cut into a full story, that all fades away and people get to take in the project as a whole. However, when you get a shot like this one that was taken by a paparazzo as Tom was busy on the set of The Mummy, the silliness comes back into things. Running out of a building as the people around him follow suit, seeing the over-the-top look on the guy beside him drives home how ridiculous Tom’s job is.
16 The Wet Look
Something that we have to say we’ve always been a little bit perplexed by, this idea that being dripping wet somehow makes someone inherently look better can be mystifying. Don’t get us wrong, there are definitely times in which we totally get the appeal as it can be marvelous seeing water bead up on the body of someone that we find hot. However, there are also cases in which we just feel confused as to why a shot seems to have been designed around a person looking as though they’ve just come out of the rain. One such example, here we feel Tom with his wet head of hair trying to look as serious and soulful as possible, and the only thing it does in our case is make us feel like laughing.
15 Looking Unsure
One of the biggest stars in the world over the last few decades, Tom Cruise has found himself in the public eye over and over again during that period of time. Whether that comes in the form of appearing in a major movie, giving an interview, or appearing on a red carpet in front of a line of photographers, you’d think he’d feel right at home. That said, he is still a human being like the rest of us and can feel unsure of himself at any given moment. A shot in which that seems to be going on, in this photo of him at a public event, it seems as though something caught him completely off guard and he is unsure of how to feel about it. Totally understandable depending on what was happening, it still flies in the face of the calm, cool, and collected image he has worked hard to create over his career.
A single moment taken from one of the films that first led to Tom becoming a star, Risky Business, looking at this screenshot out of context makes us feel amazed by that fact. An outrageous but somewhat grounded film that revolves around him running a brothel out of his parents’ house and entering a whole new world, Tom’s character looking this out-there made sense. Still, we totally understand how this shot has become a meme online as posting it to react to someone else’s ludicrous action fits to perfection. That said, seeing Tom with his mouth open to such a degree that it really feels like it should have been stuck that way will always feel strange when we come across this photo for the first time in a while.
13 Faux Rock Star
A profession that involves someone reading a script and signing onto a project with no ability to know for sure that the resulting film will be handled well, as a result, almost every actor has missteps. A shot from a movie that qualifies as one of those for Tom, this screengrab is taken from the poorly-reviewed musical, Rock of Ages, that did poorly at the box office. Cast as Stacee Jaxx, his character is described on Wikipedia as “a detached and self-indulgent rock star preparing for his final gig.” A role that called for him to come across like he has the special kind of charisma that the best rock n roll frontmen have, in this case, we think Tom missed the mark in a huge way. Sporting a bandana, sunglasses indoors, and a mullet of sorts, he is trying so hard to come off as cool and above it all.
12 Excitement Personified
If you’ve ever sat back and watched an interview that Tom Cruise has given, then you’d likely be aware that one of his most defining attributes appears to be a commitment to whatever he is doing. As such, when he has been annoyed during one of these publicity pieces, things can get quite tense which is something we’re going to touch on later in this list. On the other end of things, if Tom ends up getting excited at any given moment, he isn’t just going to crack a subtle smile and take it in. Instead, his entire face and body come across like every piece of him is utterly overjoyed. A picture that seems to personify that idea, it is awesome that his entire being seems to be so happy but we can’t help but feel awkward looking at that happening.
11 Vanity Fair
Something that millions of fame-obsessed people have grown up dreaming of, making it to a place in your life where you are successful enough to adorn a magazine cover is a really big deal. Someone who must have been largely over that even in 1996 when this issue of Vanity Fair came out, that would only leave room for him to be baffled by how this image came out. Published in the lead up to the release of the first Mission: Impossible movie, we get that they were going for him leaping in the air as an explosion goes off behind him. That said, the unbuttoned shirt exposing his skintight tank top as he looks like wind is being blown at the front of his face doesn’t fit the bad-a*s feel of that franchise at all. Instead, in a lot of ways, this feels like a spoof of the kind of photo that would fit his image and that movie better.
10 Childhood Photo?
A picture that shows that in a lot of ways, famous people are just like any of the rest of us, even a star as big as Tom Cruise has some embarrassing photos from his youth out there. We’re not sure how old Tom was when this was taken, and it feels like that must have been the intent behind the choices going on here even though that is likely not the case. For instance, his collared shirt and jacket combination seems like something we’d expect to see in the clubs of Saturday Night Fever and not a school picture. On the other hand, his haircut feels rather boyish and could easily be something we’d imagine his mother forcing him to sport. All of that aside, no matter when this was taken, the result is the same—it brings a smile to our face and likely a cringe to him.
9 Mission: Tensed Face
A screengrab from a yet to be released movie at the time of this writing, here we’re looking at the tiniest piece of the upcoming Mission: Impossible film. A series that has done marvelous business and upped the ante significantly in the last couple of outings, fans have come to expect some truly outstanding stunt pieces. Also able to stand out as Tom performs pretty much all of his own stunts, seeing this A-lister doing such insane things can be really exhilarating.
That will remain the case with the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and this shot is from the most talked-about moment in the film prior to its release, an elaborate stunt sequence involving helicopters. Actually flying the vehicle for the scene, Tom was in control of a machine that could have killed him and several others easily, and during this moment, he was pulling off tricks with it. A scary and difficult thing, any fear or tension on his face makes sense, but him looking constipated in this shot still makes us chuckle.
8 Cruise Laugh
Seriously, if you look at photos of Tom Cruise alone, there is a lot of evidence that seem to point to a need for him to have a stay in an asylum of some kind. Perhaps the best example of that, here it looks as though he was taking part in an interview in front of a crowd or some kind of question-and-answer period. Evidently asked something he found amusing or in the midst of telling a tale that he takes a great deal of pleasure in, here we see him breaking out into a laugh. Of course, this being Tom Cruise, it can’t just be a slight chuckle. Instead, he has to break out into a full-throated guffaw that seems to be coming from every single cell of his body. A shot of a moment like that taken out of context, maybe if we heard what was said and knew it was especially funny, we could understand but here we’re taken aback.
7 Outsiders Tough Guy
When looking at the filmography of Tom Cruise, there are certain films that jump out from his early days, and Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of the classic novel The Outsiders is one of them. Cast as a member of a gang that goes by The Greasers, Tom is one of several future stars that were tasked with playing tough guys on the big screen. An image of him that was taken in order to promote the film, it is clear that he was in character when this was taken and, as such, was trying to do his best at coming off as intimidating. Not succeeding in that regard at all, the hands-under-his-armpits pose here just comes across as laughable. Of course, that is to say nothing about what was going on with his teeth back then.
6 Scientology Video
The most notable person that is an outspoken (at times) member of the Church of Scientology, at various times in Tom’s career, this has resulted in some scrutiny he’d likely not welcome. A screenshot from something that resulted in just such a time in his life, here we see a single image from a video Tom starred in, espousing the benefits of the church. Laughing at odd times throughout the video and making claims about Scientologists that outsiders don’t buy into, it was not a good look for him with most of the public. Uploaded to YouTube in 2008, it is clear that the church and Tom didn’t like how it made him look to the uninitiated as they did their best to have it permanently taken down. Unsuccessful in that regard, when even the church doesn’t want us to see him trying to promote them, you know it is really bad.
5 Couch Jumping
A moment in his life that changed the way that many people looked at Tom Cruise, here we see a screenshot of him during an infamous episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Having recently entered into a relationship with his then-future wife, Katie Holmes, when he went on the talk show, it was only a matter of time before he was asked about the budding relationship. However, most viewers likely expected to hear him describe her with affection or otherwise gush about the new woman in his life. Instead, he spent much of the interview thrusting his hands in the air, putting his face in his hands like a smitten teenager and otherwise looking silly. Coming to a head when he jumped on the couch he was sitting on more than once and then grabbed Oprah’s hands before shaking her, it seemed like he’d lost it.
4 His Ex And Her New Man
Speaking of Tom and Katie, here we see a shot of the two of them that is now seen very differently than it was at the time. With Tom talking to his co-star in the movie Collateral, it seems that the two of them had become friendly, and considering how great that movie was, many people wanted to see them team up again. Instead, what nobody expected at the time was that Jamie Foxx would instead end up being much more associated with the life of Katie Holmes after she left her then-husband. First spotted as a pair in 2013 while they were in The Hamptons together, Jamie and Katie don’t publicly address their relationship, and we totally get that. After all, when she was married to Mr. Cruise, every aspect of their relationship was under a spotlight. Either way, if they never address their romance, it has become so obvious as to make this shot feel odd.
3 Infamous Interview
Another screengrab from an instance in which Tom came off like a crazy and totally different person in an interview, this time around, we’re looking at the time he verbally sparred with Matt Lauer. Appearing on the talk and news show hybrid Today, in the aftermath of decrying Brooke Shields’ use of pharmaceutical drugs to deal with postpartum depression, Tom did not look good going in. After all, taking a shot at someone who was only trying to help others through a real struggle in their lives is never going to come off well. However, when Tom then proceeded to smugly talk down to Matt who was trying to defend her and act as if he knew all about psychiatry, things only got worse.
2 With Leah Remini
A shot of Tom that combines various elements of other shots present on this list, here we see him looking uncomfortable at a public event and with an off-putting smile on his face. However, in this case, none of that matters as this shot is strictly here because of Tom’s link to Scientology and the other person seen with him. Photographed as she was looking away from the camera and at Tom who she seemed to be talking to, here we see Leah Remini who, from several accounts, used to be a friend of his. However, in the years since, she left Scientology and has become arguably the most outspoken critic of the group. As a part of that, she has been very clear that she feels that Tom is complicit in the least when it comes to the mistreatment of many people. As a result, seeing the two of them in one another’s presence is something else.
1 Red Carpet Water Spray
The absolute epitome of what we’d call awkward, here we see Tom as he was making his way down the red carpet for the London premiere of the movie War of the Worlds. A huge movie that Tom made with famed director Steven Spielberg, the two of them working on a sci-fi film made it a hugely-anticipated event. As such, all eyes were on the premiere which made it a target for a “prankster” that posed as a part of the press. Given a moment of time by one of the most famous people in the world, instead of using it to try and get clips of him discussing the film, he sprayed the actor with water in his face. An awkward visual in its own right, it also resulted in an uncomfortable moment for everyone as Tom chided him for his actions instead of walking away. Don’t get us wrong, we understand why Tom was angered and felt like giving him a piece of his mind but it only prolonged the moment.