You don’t mess with Tom Cruise. Matt Lauer knows this. The plane in his new movie Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, on which he famously performed a stunt all by his damn self, knows this. Everyone in his movies knows this. Come to think of it, he’s got a penchant for playing characters—whether the action hero or the underdog—whom you don’t want to get in the way of. Unless, of course, you’re a masochist with a thing for being verbally subdued. In which case, this is perfect for you. Here are the actor’s 10 greatest sonnings in movies for your viewing pleasure.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
“All right, I’ll tell you why you don’t have your 10 million dollars. Right now, you are a paycheck player. You play with your head, not your heart. In your personal life, heart. But when you get on the field it’s all about what you didn’t get. Who’s to blame. Who underthrew the pass. Who’s got the contract you don’t. Who’s not giving you your love. You know what? That is not what inspires people. That is not what inspires people! Shut up! Play the game, play it from your heart. And you know what? I’ll show you the kwan. And that’s the truth, man! That’s the truth. Can you handle it?” —Jerry Maguire
You’re Jerry Maguire, a former top-ranking sports agent who loses it all with one stupid decision, and now your entire future rides on the most selfish, showboating player on the planet, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). One who, mind you, only plays if you “show him the money.” Basically, the athlete version of your former self. So, what do you do to get his act right? You take everything you learned, and all the pain you felt on your own downfall, and you literally throw it in his face. For Tidwell, this truth bomb had to have hurt more than being tackled by a million burly dudes. Bruised egos don’t heal as easily as bruised limbs.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
“No one could resist me, not even you, Louis.” —Lestat de Lioncourt
It’s really no wonder that vampires are regarded as one of the most sexual beasts in folklore—like, that’s not a Twilight personal preference, it’s a fact. One of a vampire’s greatest powers is that of seduction. Why else would you be like, “Yeah you can literally suck the life blood out of me,” unless it was for love? Regardless, as Lestat de Lioncourt, Cruise is one of the most cold-blooded vampires depicted on film. He doesn’t go around as a nut-case murderer. Rather, he’s charming, calculating, and irresistible. You’re his, and there’s nothing you can do about it. (Admit it, just reading that line worked on you, too.)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
“Kittridge, you’ve never seen me very upset.” —Ethan Hunt
When Ethan Hunt’s own boss reveals that he was being set up as a scapegoat in the IMF’s most recent mission, Hunt retaliates in the best way possible: by throwing a highly explosive piece of gum onto an aquarium to facilitate his escape from the situation. Sure, the gum shtick was a neat trick, but “You’ve never seen me very upset” has got to be the most badass thing you can say before screwing someone over so epically.
All the Right Moves (1983)
“You’re full of shit, man. You just sit there in your office. A scholarship here, no scholarship there. He goes. He stays. Who in the hell gave you that power? You’re just a coach. You’re just a high school football coach. I mean, I don’t know. What, what, I don’t know…. You know, Nickerson, you are not God! Huh? You’re just a typing teacher!” —Stefen Djordjevic
Put yourself in the mind of a high school student who has had enough of their small town! You don’t want to work at a dead-end job in the mill like your old pops! Your only way out is football and the scholarships it brings! (This sounds like a cliché, but only because it actually happens.) And when Cruise, as Djordjevic, calls out his coach, it hits hard with every kid who’s ever been held back by teachers, coaches, and other a—holes who lie about playing favorites and let jealousy get in the way of their flourish.
“Someday? Someday my dream will come? One night you will wake up and discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you. It never will. Suddenly you are old. Didn’t happen, and it never will, because you were never going to do it anyway. You’ll push it into memory and then zone out in your Barcalounger, being hypnotized by daytime TV for the rest of your life. Don’t you talk to me about murder. All it ever took was a down payment on a Lincoln town car. That girl, you can’t even call that girl. What the fuck are you still doing driving a cab?” —Vincent
Just imagine being a cab driver like Jamie Foxx’s Max Durocher, driving about your nightly route, when suddenly a hitman gets into your car and demands that you drive him around from kill to kill. Terrifying, isn’t it? Sure, at first it is. But when said hitman, just chillin’ in your backseat, delivers a speech about wasted opportunity that basically makes you rethink your entire existence, you realize having a killer a foot away from you isn’t the scariest thing after all. Rather, it’s the fear that you’ve already ruined your own life.
“I am the last barman poet. I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make. Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake. The Sex on the Beach. The schnapps made from peach. The Velvet Hammer. The Alabama Slammer. I make things with juice and froth. The Pink Squirrel. The Three-Toed Sloth. I make drinks so sweet and snazzy. The Iced Tea. The Kamakazi. The Orgasm. The Death Spasm. The Singapore Sling. The Dingaling. America, you’ve just been devoted to every flavor I got. But if you want to get loaded, why don’t you just order a shot? Bar is open.” —Brian Flanagan
With just a little bit of confidence, you can make anyone bow down to you. That’s basically the entire driving force behind Cocktail. The story is simple: After coming home from the army, Cruise’s Brian Flanagan takes a job as bartender in Queens. In just a matter of weeks, Flanagan’s fancy bottle tricks and expert cocktails make him the most popular server in New York, eventually landing him a job at the trendiest of trendy nightclubs. What you see here is Flanagan bringing the Big Apple’s hottest and richest down to their knees. Listen to their screams and look at their faces: They’re already hammered off his seduction.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
“First, take a big step back… And literally, F—K YOUR OWN FACE! I don’t know what kind of pan-pacific bullshit power play you’re trying to pull here, but Asia Jack is my territory. So, whatever you’re thinking, you’d better think again! Otherwise I’m gonna have to head down there and I will rain down in a godly f—king firestorm upon you! You’re gonna have to call the f—king United Nations and get a f—king binding resolution to keep me from f—king destroying you. I’m talking about a scorched earth, motherf—ker! I will massacre you! I WILL F—K YOU UP!” —Les Grossman
Cruise, in his unforgettable role as Les Grossman, a terrifyingly accurate caricature of a jaded studio executive, delivers one of those most crude and dangerous burns of a lifetime. Why is it the most dangerous? Well, because he says it through the phone, and on the other end is Flaming Dragon. Mind you, it’s an IRL gang that not only produces drugs but also is holding Grossman’s film star hostage and demanding a ransom. Apparently, going by the old rules of the USA (or, at least, what we’ve seen in movies) WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS. Except Grossman just assumes that Flaming Dragon is a rival talent agency trying to sign his star—and not an actual world-threatening terrorist organization—so he literally makes those threats on a blind, ignorant rage black-out. Welp, regardless of the circumstance, it’s pretty damn effective.
A Few Good Men (1992)
“Don’t call me son. I’m a lawyer and an officer in the United States Navy, and you’re under arrest, you son of a bitch.” —Lt. Daniel Kaffee
As Colonel Nathan Jessup, Jack Nicholson plays a piece-of-trash commanding officer determined to cover up his involvement in the murder of one of his subordinates. But despite his best efforts, his years of experience in bullshitting isn’t enough to defeat fledgling Lt. Daniel Kaffee in a verbal boxing match. With his back against the ropes, Jessup gets in a good jab at Kaffee with his ever-quotable “You can’t handle the truth!” But, knowing he’s stayed on his feet the whole round, Kaffee delivers the finishing blow. You can count on Jessup being down longer way beyond the 10-count.
“Respect the c—k! And tame the c—t! Tame it! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No! You will not win this game! Because it’s a game, guys. You want to think it’s not, huh? You want to think it’s not? Go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane. Respect the c—k. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who’s in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it’s universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal. We…are…men!” —Frank T.J. Mackey
Inarguably Cruise’s most twisted role yet, Frank T.J. Mackey is an men’s rights movement activist’s wet dream. As Paul Thomas-Anderson’s fictional motivational speaker, Cruise rallies a bunch of misogynist plebs with self-esteem so low they need a conference in which the supposed meaning of manhood is screamed at them. In this instance, Mackey’s not putting anyone down. Rather, he does one even better: He owns them.
Jack Reacher (2012)
“I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot.” —Jack Reacher
As Jack Reacher, Cruise is a former military man turned drifter with literally nothing to lose (a phrase he repeats numerous times, lest you forget). Tasked to clear the name of an old acquaintance, who’s been charged with the murder of five people, Reacher teams up with his defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike). It all hits the fan when Rodin is kidnapped by the real perpetrators, forcing Reacher to dole out the most vicious lines he’s got. If the threat of cannibalism isn’t enough to take someone down, then, really, what else is there?