Arguably one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood, charismatic actor Tom Cruise originally had his sights set on a far more spiritual career. As a teenager the star, whose high-wattage smile sets screens alight, wanted to become a priest and even enrolled in a Franciscan seminary. Once there, however, the acting bug struck.
Born Thomas Mapother Cruise IV on July 3, 1962, in Syracuse, upstate New York, Tom was just 12 years old when his alcoholic father walked out on mother Mary Lee, sisters Marian, Lee Anne and Cass.
Afterwards times were tough, and the four children did chores such as mowing their neighbours' lawns to help with the housekeeping. One Christmas the family eschewed presents and instead read out poems they had written for each other.
The fledgling actor landed his first part in a Franco Zeffirelli movie, Endless Love
and, within five years thanks to roles in teen-friendly movies such as The Outsiders, Risky Business
and Top Gun
was at the top of every director's wish list.
One advantage of signing up the Mission Impossible
star is the fact that the actor, who is a big fan of adrenaline sports - he enjoys skydiving and rock-climbing as well as piloting his own planes does many of the stunts in his films himself.
But Tom, who has a reputation for the level of involvement he seeks, always wanted more than just an acting career. Box office winners such as The Color Of Money, Rain Man
and Born On The Fourth Of July
boosted his pay to around $15 million a picture, making him one of Tinseltown's biggest earners.
He became one of the few stars who could ask for a share of the profits and get it. For Mission: Impossible 2
the 5ft 7in star earned $20 million, plus 30 per cent of the film"s gross, which worked out at $75 million a far cry from the $850 he earned for his role in Taps.
A devout Scientologist, Tom has been married three times. In May 1987 he wed actress Mimi Rogers, then on Christmas Eve 1990, in Colorado, he plighted his troth a second time, to Nicole Kidman
, whom he had met on the set of Days Of Thunder.
"Nicole and I are forever. She is everything I have always looked for in a woman. Since we married ten years ago we've stayed totally in love with each other and haven't spent more than ten days apart," declared the actor in 2000.
Six months later, however, came the shocking news that he and Nicole were to part. The couple, who have two adopted children, Isabella and Conor, were divorced in 2001.
Tom went on to date Penelope Cruz
, his sultry Spanish costar in Vanilla Sky.
But although the pair seemed very much in love, the constant demands of their careers took their toll and in January 2004 they decided to go their separate ways.
In 2005, Tom was briefly linked to actress Sofia Vergara, but in late April of that year the ultra-private actor took the world by surprise with an unexpected announcement: he was madly in love with Dawson's Creek
star Katie Holmes, 16 years his junior.
And just six weeks later, there was more news. "I proposed to her," he confirmed at a Paris press conference. "It was early this morning at the Eiffel Tower, so I haven't slept at all."
The bombshells didn't stop there. In October 2005 the couple announced they were expecting their first child together, and on April 18, 2006, daughter Suri - whose name means "princess" - arrived.
Their marriage the following November at the 15th-century Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano, Italy was witnessed by the Hollywood glitterati.
Sadly, love didn't last this time either for the screen hero. In a shock move, Kate, as he always called her, filed for divorce on June 29, 2012.
Not that the turmoil in his life affected his position at the top of the Tinseltown firmament. Forbes announced that Tom was still the world's most bankable star, having earned $75 million in the 12 months before his divorce.