Yet they have kept coming. A month after the 2005 couch trip, Cruise scored one of his biggest hits ever with "War of the Worlds." The following year, after alienating many people with his suddenly public sermonizing about his Scientology beliefs, damage was evident as "Mission: Impossible III" seriously underperformed the franchise's earlier installments.
He went five years without a huge solo smash, though he did delight fans with a twisted supporting role in the comedy hit "Tropic Thunder" and defied expectations by earning respectable box office and reviews as an eye-patch-wearing German officer in the Hitler assassination thriller "Valkyrie."
Paramount, Cruise's long-time studio home, dumped him in 2006 over his odd behavior, and the actor went on to a failed attempt to revive the United Artists banner that resulted in the 2007 war-on-terror dud "Lions for Lambs."
Then Cruise and Paramount realized what a good thing they'd had together. He rejoined the studio for "Tropic Thunder" and last year's "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," which restored Cruise to the blockbuster ranks and generally is regarded as the franchise's best installment.
No matter what anyone thinks of his personal life, Cruise has a reputation as one of the hardest working men in show business, with an unparalleled work ethic.
"He's very focused," said Emily Blunt, his co-star in the upcoming sci-fi thriller "All You Need Is Kill" that is now shooting.
"Tom has always been nothing but professional and sweet and open and a lot of fun for me to be around," Blunt said at last July's Comic-Con fan convention, where she was preparing for the start of production on the film after months of preparation with Cruise. "I've really enjoyed working with him."