In honor of Tom Cruise‘s birthday today, we’re asking you to think back, if you will, to a moment deep in our shared American past. To a moment preserved in time — unsullied by couch-jumping, untouched by Scientology. A moment when Tom Cruise was still considered a heartthrob. Now calm down for a second, because that time existed! And believe it or not, it wasn’t even that long ago. For a while, Tom was as as universally adored as people like George Clooney and Brad Pitt. He was running in that same club with those same big dogs. Remember, the whole reason that Katie Holmes was selected as Wifey Model 3.0 was because she publicly admitted to having a crush on Tom and having pictures of him on her wall. Honestly, people used to do that. So let me tuck you into your sickbed, like Fred Savage in Princess Bride, and tell you a wondrous tale of a time not-so-very long ago before our eyes were opened to the truth. It was a different time, certainly, but every word is true. Here are the ten reasons that we guess Tom Cruise used to be a heartthrob…sort of.
1. He’s fifty years old today and he still looks like that.
Hey, the guy creeps me out, sure, but even I can give props where props are due. Perhaps because he’s such a small, compact person and his good genes have less to do, Tom is actually still very attractive into middle-age. Like him or not, the angles in his face have always been pretty killer. Seriously, Google him. Without the stigma of his — well, you know, personality and stuff — Tom is stupidly attractive. Remember?
2. His name.
Sure, he was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, but he had the good sense to change it to ‘Tom Cruise’ for the move to Hollywood, which I remember thinking was the perfect name for a movie star.
3. He dated Penelope Cruz.
Who is only like the hottest thing ever. Also bonus, if they’d gotten married, her name would’ve been Penelope Cruz Cruise. Which I assume is merely the most important of the many reasons they didn’t get married.
4. His costume for Risky Business.
Repeated at some point by every person ever, Tom originated the classic look — white button down, white socks, black sunglasses…and tighty-whities.
5. He’s been nominated for three Academy Awards.
Believe it. Born On The Fourth Of July (1990), Jerry Maguire(1997), and Magnolia (2000). For Best Actor, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.
6. The smolder.
I swear, he used to know how to pose for pictures without showing every tooth in his mouth. He’s since forgotten this trick, but he used to take many a picture featuring a well-placed sexual smolder.
7. Mission Impossible.
8. Eyes Wide Shut.
Even the front of that movie — that picture with Tom kissing Nicole Kidman‘s neck while she looks into the camera — made my stomach a little tingly. I was twelve when it came out, so I wasn’t allowed to watch it at the time…and having seen it in my twenties, I know why.
9. He gets physical.
Tom’s been cited in interviews many times as doing many of his own stunts. There was a time when we thought of this habit of Tom’s as rakish, charming, and sexy, but that was before he fell out of favor. Now I’m more inclined to see it as reckless and arrogant.
When they first got together, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were such a power-couple that we actually named them, ala Brangelina and Bennifer. Remember TomKat? We stopped using the name a long time ago, as we lost interest in them as a couple. I think this is the first time that we stopped using a relationship name before the relationship was actually over.
Remember all those things? C’mon, you can admit that you do. That guilt you’re feeling, it’s not necessary. Sure, you were attracted to Tom back then — but we all were! Think of it like your first relationship…you were young, you didn’t know what you were doing. And now that we’ve moved on, it doesn’t hurt to see him with his new loves — those twins Scientology and Insanity. It just kind of makes us sad.