Tom Cruise's Biggest Controversies Over The Years

Tom Cruise is one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. Cruise became a bona fide star in the 80s and 90s with films such as "Top Gun," "Cocktail," and "Risky Business," and continued his success with blockbusters such as "The Firm," "Interview with the Vampire," "Jerry Maguire," and "Mission Impossible." However, off-screen he's been one of the most controversial figures in the entertainment business.

Over the years, Cruise's acting has been praised, but he's been a bit polarizing when it comes to his personal life and public persona, especially when it comes to his relationships with former wives Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes, as well as his loyalty to Scientology. Cruise's involvement as a father to his three children has also made headlines in the past. The actor shares two adopted children, Isabella and Connor with Kidman, and a biological daughter, Suri, with Holmes. While Cruise appears to have relationships with his adult children, he's reportedly estranged from his teenage daughter, Suri, with some suggesting that Cruise's Scientology beliefs are a major reason why he doesn't have a strong relationship with Suri, who is being raised by Holmes.

Of course, Cruise has created a stir for more than his religious beliefs and parenting throughout his career, and he's stunned fans with some controversial moments during that time. Here are some of Tom Cruise's biggest controversies over the years.

Tom Cruise laughed over cutting off oxygen to a passenger on his plane in 1999

In 1999, Tom Cruise appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," when he opened up about a flying experience. The actor revealed that he and his co-pilot were flying at high altitudes during a flight to Colorado, when they realized they didn't have enough oxygen to stay alert. Instead of coming up with a strategy to remedy the situation, Cruise revealed that he and the co-pilot simply shut off the oxygen for the plane's other passenger so that they had enough air to continue their flight.

Cruise laughed as he told the story to Letterman, later revealing that the passenger eventually fell asleep due to the lack of oxygen, claiming the situation was never dangerous. Cruise chuckled so hard during the story that he had trouble getting his words out, but viewers heard he ensured that the passenger woke up upon arrival. He also laughed about how the passenger complained of numb hands after the flight.

However, Letterman seemed to be taken aback and even called out the actor for his poor judgment. "But honestly, looking at it from another direction, isn't that attempted manslaughter? You just turned a guy's oxygen off," Letterman told Cruise. "You're lucky you're not doing time, for the love of God," the host added before joining in the laughter.

Tom Cruise publicly feuded with Brooke Shields over antidepressants

In 2005, Brooke Shields opened up about her postpartum depression and use of antidepressants in her memoir "Down Came the Rain." After Shields' comments and views on the medication were made public, Tom Cruise had plenty to say about the actor, calling her "irresponsible" for claiming that the medication helped cure her postpartum depression. Of course, Shields didn't take Cruise's words lightly, telling him to "stick to saving the world from aliens."

Later, Cruise was asked about his comments during an interview on the "Today Show," where he called Matt Lauer "glib," and revealed that vitamins and exercise were a better way to treat depression than prescription medication. However, Cruise eventually made a public apology to Shields, and the two buried the hatchet. The "Blue Lagoon" star even attended Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006. "If you get invited to that wedding, you go," Shields said of attending the wedding (via Entertainment Tonight). "There was no malice in my heart."

In 2023, Shields spoke out about Cruise again, revealing that she would previously be sent a card and a bundt cake from the actor for the holidays, but that she has seemingly fallen off the list of recipients, per People Magazine. "I want to get back on that cake list. It's the best cake," Shields joked. "Tom, I need to be back on the cake list."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Tom Cruise stuns fans with his behavior on The Oprah Show

In 2005, Tom Cruise was making headlines for his career while promoting the film "War of the Worlds." His relationship with Kate Holmes was also being heavily discussed in the media, and fans couldn't help but be curious about the actor's resurgence. That same year, Cruise appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" for an interview with the famed talk show host. However, the interview took a wild turn when Cruise veered off the subject from his career and leaned into his personal life, getting candid about his romance with Holmes.

During the interview, Cruise had the studio audience in fits of laughter and applause as he gushed over Holmes, posed excitedly, smiled from ear to ear, joked, and even jumped on the couch to prove how happy he was with his life and new love. Eventually, Winfrey convinced Cruise to head backstage and get Holmes, which he did. The actor brought Holmes out on stage, and the two embraced and kissed in front of the audience.

The interview was one of the strangest and most unhinged that Cruise had ever given. That moment was also credited for helping the online entertainment blog industry take off. "This incident became one of the most critical chapters in the Origin Story of Internet Gossip," blogger Elaine Lui wrote on her site Lainey Gossip.

Cruise's involvement with Scientology has been controversial

Tom Cruise is famously known for his involvement with Scientology. Cruise, along with many other Hollywood stars such as John Travolta, Danny Masterson, Elizabeth Moss, Kirstie Alley, and Juliette Lewis, have also been involved with the church. However, Cruise is one of the most famous members and has achieved a top-level status within the church. Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in 1986 after being introduced to it by his first wife, Mimi Rogers. However, it wasn't until 1992 that he publicly confirmed his involvement with the religion.

TV star Leah Remini was also previously a member of the church, but has since left the religion. After leaving Scientology, Remini has been very open and outspoken about the inner workings of the church, and Cruise's involvement with the religion. In her memoir "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," Remini spoke out about Cruise, even revealing that he once screamed at his assistants because he couldn't find pre-packaged cookie dough.

Over the years, Remini has opened up more about Cruise and Scientology. "He is very aware of the abuses that go on in Scientology. He's been part of it," she told The Daily Beast in 2018. "Scientologists are told that Cruise is saving the world single-handedly, so he is considered a deity within Scientology," she added.

Cruise screamed at a movie crew over COVID protocols in 2020

In 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tom Cruise was filming "Mission: Impossible 7." The movie was being filmed with many rules and regulations to help combat the spread of the virus, but some crew members were reportedly not following the protocols. This inflamed Cruise, who went on a long rant, using profanity and screaming at the crew. He even threatened to fire them if they stepped out of line any further. The rant was allegedly caused when Cruise saw crew members standing closer than 6 feet apart while looking at a computer.

"They're back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you m-f—ers," Cruise can be heard yelling in the leaked audio. "I don't ever want to see it again! Ever!" he continues. "If I see you do it again, you're f—ing gone." Cruise later addressed the rant. "There was a lot at stake at that point. I said what I said," the actor told Empire Magazine.