When the news of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' divorce broke - and after the initial tsunami of tweets about '5-year contracts' and 'Katie wearing heels again' hit - a second wave of conversation landed on the shore. Namely, “Just how much of a dick is Tom Cruise?”. Scientology, sexuality, sofas and Suri seemed to be the biggest sticks with which the online community chose to batter the actor, but what still seems so surprising is the level of abuse.
Printed all over the chief 'Whack-A-Cruise' mallet is his association with, to use Rupert Murdoch's words, “the very weird cult” of Scientology. Tom's devotion to his religion is an add-on to every story written to any film the A-lister releases. Then when the gloves come off, the nasty (unfounded) rumours about his sexuality come up. Short of a leaked video showing him blowing a guy and exclaiming after the incident “I really enjoyed blowing that guy” it's best for anyone craving equality for all to steer clear of baseless - and worryingly negative - accusations.
Yet for all the haterz, you'd be hard pressed to find a single person who didn't rate at least one of his films and performances. Risky Business, The Colour of Money, Born On The Fourth Of July, Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Minority Report, Collateral. Cruise has, over four decades, been hand-picked to work with Spielberg, Stone, Mann and Anderson to name but a few of the best film-makers in the business.
His is the better performance in Rain Man, he's sublime in Magnolia and if Stanley Kubrick can stand his company for over 400 days he must be doing something right. As a producer he's helped birth a number of acclaimed films (Narc, Shattered Glass, The Others) that might never have seen the light of day without his big name assistance.
Not that he hasn't been involved with some utter tripe both in the past - Begorrah it's Far And Away! - and closer to the present - the nondescript Knight And Day and the dull as dishwater Valkyrie. His recent inclination to be down with the kids in Tropic Thunder and Rock Of Ages smacks of an embarrassing desperation to be 'relevant', where other actors in the late 30's to early 50's age range (Pitt, DiCaprio) are happy to mature with dignity.
Last Thursday it was revealed that once again ruise was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, taking home a reported $75m from May 2011 to May 2012. In second place on the money list were Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler with $37m a piece. Maths fans will note that's less than half. Regardless of the unique way Hollywood handles payroll it's testament to the man that after a career spanning the best part of 30 years he can still double the earnings of his nearest rival.
Ultimately his third divorce, (the third separation once said wife had turned 33 years old) and subsequent media aneurysm won't keep publicists up at night or prevent producers from thinking twice about chucking buckets of moolah at Cruise for any future movies. Movies that include guaranteed cash cows Mission Impossible 5 and the oft-mooted Top Gun sequel.
Those associated with the forthcoming Jack Reacher adaptation - and any negative impact recent events might incur - will happily look to Mr. Wilde and his assertion that “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” You can guarantee we'll still be talking about Tom Cruise 30 years from now, whether he's lording it up on Xenu or stuck here on little old planet Teegeeack.