Why Tom Cruise Changed His Name When He Got To Hollywood

Tom Cruise is one of the most prominent actors in the world. His films, including "Top Gun" and the "Mission: Impossible" series, have made him a bankable star in Hollywood. That said, Cruise is worth even more than you probably realized, with a staggering net worth of $600 million. Variety reported that Cruise made $100 million alone from his 2022 hit film "Top Gun: Maverick."

Fame and fortune aside, Cruise is also known for his doomed marriages to fellow actors Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes. Born in 1962, acting was not Cruise's first career choice. As a young teen, Cruise was studying for a surprising job as a Catholic priest. However, after starring in the play "Guys and Dolls" in high school, Cruise was bitten by the acting bug. By the time he was 19, he had signed with an agent. He subsequently nabbed a role in the 1981 film "Endless Love" and later gained notoriety with 1983's "Risky Business," which critics now consider to be a cult classic. A string of successful movies followed, including "Top Gun" and "Rain Man."

But, before he was an A-lister, Cruise went by a longer moniker: His birth name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. Early on in his career, he shortened his name. The reason for this? His father was "a merchant of chaos" who would bully his kids, the actor once said (via Gentleman's Journal), though Cruise apparently dropped the Mapother name for commercial reasons as well as personal ones.

Tom Cruise's dad was abusive

According to People, an agent suggested that Thomas Cruise Mapother IV change his name to Tom Cruise. Of course, this is nothing new in the entertainment industry. Several stars, including Whoopi Goldberg, Marilyn Monroe, and countless others changed or modified their name before making it big in Hollywood. However, Gentleman's Journal writes that Cruise also decided against using the last name Mapother because he wanted to symbolically cut ties with his father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III.

Per CBS News, Cruise, who is notoriously private, revealed in a 2006 interview with Parade magazine that his father was abusive to him while he was growing up. Cruise told the publication that his father "was a bully and a coward... the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life — how he'd lull you in, make you feel safe, and then, bang!" Cruise's mother, Mary Lee South, divorced him in 1974. Cruise did not see his father again until 1984. By that point, the elder Mapother was on his deathbed.

Cruise explained to Parade that even as he was dying of cancer, his father did not want to discuss "the past." He said, "When I saw him in pain, I thought, 'What a lonely life.' He was in his late 40s. It was sad."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Tom Cruise's actor cousin kept his last name

Tom Cruise may have had a fractured relationship with his father, but he's not the only celebrity in the Mapother family.  His cousin, William Mapother (pictured above), is also an actor. Unlike Cruise, William professionally uses the surname he was born with. He is best known for starring in the 2001 film "In the Bedroom" opposite Marissa Tomei and Sissy Spacek, as well as the hit J.J. Abrams series "Lost," in which he played Dr. Ethan. He has also worked on several of Cruise's films. These include "Born on the Fourth of July" (which was Mapother's first movie), "Magnolia," "Mission: Impossible II," "Vanilla Sky," and "Minority Report."

William prefers to keep a low-key profile and doesn't like discussing his family. In an interview with HuffPost, he was asked what it was like to have Cruise as a cousin. He replied, "That's one question I'm not going to answer — I don't mind you asking — only because whenever I answer questions about my cousin, it ends up getting spun and misinterpreted. Not by you guys, because I know you'll present exactly what I say, but someone else will take out pieces and you know... It's happened too often." He did say that they are "very close" and that Cruise is "a great guy," but he wouldn't be drawn any further on the matter.