10 awesome facts you might not know about Tom Cruise

He loves his fans! He’s of below average height! He follows an unorthodox religion! There’s not a lot we don’t know about ‘Oblivion’ star Tom Cruise, owing to his being The Biggest Movie Star In The World™.

Full name Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, Tom has worked with some of Hollywood’s true greats and has become a permanent fixture of cinemas for around thirty years. He’s been a tabloid favourite for almost as long, thanks to high-profile relationships and his connection with Scientology.

But could there possibly be anything more to learn about the man himself? We aim to prove there is, and with a little digging, we present 10 things you (possibly) didn’t know about Tom Cruise…

He was the visual basis for Aladdin
It’s a piece of movie trivia that’s obvious in retrospect, but if you didn’t already clock it then it’s pretty mindblowing. When it came to animating 1992’s feature film ‘Aladdin’, Disney modelled the face of their young hero on Tom Cruise, who was dominating the box office with movies like ‘Days Of Thunder’ and ‘A Few Good Men’. One look at Al’s toothy grin and it seems forehead-slappingly blatant that Cruise was the inspiration for the character.

He wanted to be a priest
Despite his connections with The Church Of Scientology, Tom was brought up a devout Catholic and as a boy he aspired to become a priest. He even attended a Franciscan seminary in Cincinnati on a scholarship, but he lure of Hollywood prove too strong. Before long, Cruise was hob-nobbing with movie stars, married actress Mimi Rogers at 24 years old and denounced his Catholic beliefs in 1990.

He has his own day in Japan
You might know October 10th as the anniversary of the day Papua New Guinea joined the United Nations (I think we all remember where we were that day), but in Japan, the date has been set aside to honour Tom Cruise. So besotted with The Cruiser were the Japan Memorial Day Association, Tom Cruise Day has been held annually since 2006 to celebrate the fact that Tom has made more visits to the Far East than any other Western actor. Predictably, ‘The Last Samurai’ performed way better in Japan than it did the US.

He’s basically a hero in real life
On screen, Tom Cruise usually plays the hero – what else could he play, with that winning smile and clean-cut look of his? Off screen, however, and Cruise is also something of a good Samaritan. In 1996 after witnessing a hit and run accident, Tom took the victim – aspiring Brazilian actress Heloisa Vinhas – to hospital, and upon discovering she didn’t have health insurance, paid her medical bills himself. This was the same year he saved two children from getting trampled at his own premiere. Whatta guy.

He really does feel the need for speed
Like fellow Scientologist John Travolta, Cruise also owns a pilot’s licence; he was given flying lessons as a gift from director Sydney Pollack. A huge fan of aviation history, he owns a World War II-era P-51 Mustang and is a fully qualified commercial pilot. Back on terra firma, and Cruise still feels the need for speed. Upon working with Paul Newman in ‘The Color Of Money’ in 1986, he became interested in motor racing and even raced for Newman’s team. While filming ‘Days Of Thunder’, he recorded a lap at Daytona in which he hit 205 MPH. Then, of course, there’s his legendary ‘Top Gear’ test track time.

He’s an Oscar good luck charm
There might be dust gathering on his Oscar shelf back home, but Cruise is something of an awards season good luck charm. Recipient of three Academy Award nominations himself (and zero wins), it’s Cruise’s co-stars that usually reap the benefits. No less than nine co-stars have been Oscar-nominated for acting opposite Tom, including eventual winners Paul Newman, Cuba Gooding Jr and Dustin Hoffman. Cruise’s own statuette, however, remains elusive.

His most successful film in the UK is ‘Austin Powers: Goldmember’
The star of blockbusters like ‘War Of The Worlds’ and the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise, you’d think Cruise’s biggest movie on British soil would be one of his action epics. Not so. In fact, according to Channel 4’s ‘Ultimate Film’ TV show, Cruise’s most successful film with UK cinema audiences – measured by attendance rather than revenue – is still ‘Austin Powers: Goldmember’, in which he had a cameo role as the star of spoof ‘Austinpussy’. “Shall we shag now or later?” remains his best on-screen chat-up line.

He was at Princess Diana’s funeral
Bizarrely, Tom Cruise and then wife Nicole Kidman attended the funeral of Princess Diana on 6th September, 1997. Cruise wasn’t the only Hollywood star in attendance: Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks were also warming seats at Di’s big send-off. Though it might seem odd for Hollywood stars like Tom to pay their respects to Princess Di in person, Cruise had met Diana on several occasions, dating back as far as the Royal Premiere of ‘Far And Away’ in 1992. Cruise later claimed he and Kidman had also suffered the wrath of aggressive paparazzi in the very same tunnel in which Di died.

He once directed an episode of TV
Cruise has not yet stepped behind the camera to shoot a movie like so many of his actor contemporaries, but he does have one directorial credit on his IMDB page. Tom helmed one episode of American noir anthology ‘Fallen Angels’; airing in September 1993, ‘The Frightening Frammis’ starred Peter Gallagher as a man who stole $25,000 from his con-artist wife, played by Nancy Travis.

He almost played ‘John Carter’
For such a high-profile star, Cruise hasn’t suffered many flops in his career – but it could all have been so different. At one point in the late 80s, director John McTiernan was planning to tackle Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story of ‘John Carter’, with Cruise attached to play the lead. A few decades later, and Disney’s version took a $200 million hit – seen Taylor Kitsch in any movies lately?