There’s probably not a single person in the country that wouldn’t recognize his face. He’s been a major movie star for decades, leading in some of our favorite action films, dramas, and thrillers. He’s also made headlines for his personal life, for better or for worse. He’s Tom Cruise, and he’s arguably one of the most famous dudes in the country — and in the world, for that matter.
But how much do you really know about this leading man? As it turns out, there are some lesser-known facts about Cruise that all might not be privy to. Below, we’ve compiled a list of these facts, allowing your to familiarize yourself even more with a face it feels like we all already know. From his antics on screen to his questionable devotion to Scientology, these facts represent the real Tom Cruise — the man behind the myth. #14 is actually very surprising.
#1. He’s not afraid to let his freak flag fly.
Remember the infamous “couch incident” on the Oprah Winfrey Show? To show his excitement about falling in love with Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise jumped on the sofa during an interview with Oprah. It was, in a word, weird.
#2. He loves doing his own stunts.
Remember the insane opening to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation? Where Tom’s character hangs off the side of a plane? Yeah, he actually did that?
#3. He was a wrestler in high school.
In fact, he originally planned on going professional before he got into acting.
#4. You’ll never find him in action figure form.
Tom refuses to allow his likeness to be used for video games or figurines, despite the fact that he’s played many action figure-worthy characters.
#5. Tom came up with the character of Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder.
He actually told Ben Stiller that Les needed to be bald and have a weird love of dancing. Way to improvise, Tom.
#6. He was actually a hero in real life.
In 1998, he saved a woman from being mugged and he chased away the attackers with his bodyguards.
#7. He’s also helped a woman with her insurance bills.
Need more evidence that Tom is a real-life hero? When he saw a women get hit by a car and found out she didn’t have insurance, he paid her medical bill of $7,000.
#8. He is really committed to his own stunts.
The director of Edge of Tomorrow initially insisted on a stuntman doing Tom’s stunts. Tom refused, and the director ended up being happy with what he did.
Warner Bros. Pictures
#9. Tom was actually set to play Iron Man.
Eventually, producers decided that Robert Downey Jr. was a better choice for the role.
#10. Tom is a Scientologist, and they’ve got some serious pull on him.
In fact, he hasn’t seen his daughter Suri in three years because the church said she would make him want to leave the religion.
#11. Tom got his pilot’s license after filming Top Gun.
Yes, that means he really is a Maverick.
#12. He’s not afraid to get serious behind the wheel.
Tom did all of his driving stunts in Jack Reacher. In fact, even when he made a mistake in the scene where his car crashes into some barrels the director left it in the movie anyway.
#13. The sunglasses Tom’s character wears in Risky Business became so popular that he single-handedly increased Ray-Ban sales by 2000%.
In fact, the style is still wildly popular today — he just looked so damn good in them.
#14. He’s one of the highest paid celebrities in Hollywood
His total net worth is about $480 — in other words, he’s richer than rich.
United Artists/The Kobal Collection
#15. When he was 14, Tom attended a seminary on a scholarship.
He actually considered becoming a priest. Unfortunately, he got kicked out for stealing alcohol.
#16. Tom wanted to be in Valkyrie after seeing a photo of Colonel von Stauffenberg.
When he saw the photo, he realized the historical military figure looked just like him and knew he had to have the role.
#17. He’s got an impressive track record at the box office.
He is the first actor to appear in five consecutive movies that grossed more than $100 million in the U.S. They were: A Few Good Men, The Firm, Interview with the Vampire, Mission: Impossible, and Jerry Maguire.
David James / Paramount Pictures
#18. He missed his high school graduation ceremony because he was acting.
He couldn’t attend the ceremony because he was too busy acting in a performance of Godspell.
Neal Preston/Paramount Pictures
#19. Tom Cruise had a difficult childhood.
According to Cruise, he was constantly bullied in the schools that he attended. During the span of 12 years, he went to 15 different schools in America and Canada.
Karen Ballard / Paramount Pictures
#20. There is a “Tom Cruise Day” in Japan.
October 10 was officially termed as “Tom Cruise Day” in Japan. They love him because he’s made more visits to the country than any Hollywood star.
#21. Tom Cruise has a learning disability.
He was diagnosed with dyslexia at the tender age of seven.
Warner Bros. Pictures
#22. People search him on Google — but it’s not exactly positive.
Due to his views regarding Scientology, “TomCruiseIsNuts.com” is one of the most popular Google searches.
Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures
#23. He had a Disney character modeled after him.
Originally, Disney artists based the face of Aladdin on Michael J. Fox, but producers decided Cruise’s visage was the way to go for the character.