These were ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ star Tom Cruise’s first jobs as a kid

Tom Cruise
James Devaney | Getty Images

Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood's biggest box-office draws for more than three decades.

Cruise — who is currently starring in "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," the movie franchise's sixth installment — is also known to be hardworking; he reportedly broke his ankle during filming of this movie, which is in theaters on Friday. Cruise, 56, who famously performs many of his own stunts, was hurt while attempting to jump from the top of one building to another during a chase scene shot in London.

"I knew instantly my ankle was broken and I really didn't want to do [the stunt] again so just got up and carried on with the take," Cruise said in an interview in January, explaining that he managed to finish filming the scene before getting medical attention for the injury, which ended up shutting down production of the movie for three months in 2017.

The story, and Cruise's insistence on performing his own stunts even as he nears 60, is an example of his famous work ethic. It's something that dates back to his childhood, the actor has said.

"I've always had a work ethic," Cruise told Playboy in a 2012 interview. "I've had paying jobs since I was about eight years old — cutting grass, raking leaves, paper routes, selling Easter cards and Christmas cards."

One of the reasons why Cruise might have started working at a young age is that money was tight in his childhood home. Cruise (whose real name is Thomas Cruise Mapother) was born in Syracuse, New York, but his family moved frequently — first to Canada, when his electrical engineer father landed a job in Ottawa, and then back to the U.S. after Cruise's parents got divorced when he was in the sixth grade.

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Cruise told Rolling Stone in 1986 that his mother worked various jobs to support her four children after the divorce, including selling electrical appliances. "One Christmas there was no money to buy gifts, so the family wrote poems to one another and read them out loud," Christopher Connelly wrote in that Rolling Stone profile of Cruise.

"I used to cut grass and had all kinds of odd jobs to give money to my family, but also to save money so I could go to the movies," Cruise says in a recent interview with People. Cruise tells People that he "wanted to make movies since I was 4 years old" — though he also attended seminary school as a 14-year-old in Cincinnati, and briefly considered becoming a Catholic priest before leaving the school after reportedly being caught drinking liquor with a friend. (Cruise is now a Scientologist, about which there has been much controversy.)

Cruise's eventually family moved to New Jersey, where he graduated from high school after starring in a school production of the musical "Guys and Dolls." After that show, Cruise's mother Mary Lee told Rolling Stone, Cruise promised his mother and step-father that he would move to New York City to try his hand at an acting career.

"Tom said, 'Let me see. I really feel that this is what I want to do,'" Cruise's mother said in 1986. "And we both wholeheartedly agreed, because we both felt it was a God-given talent, and he should explore it because he was so enthused about it. So to make a long story short, we gave him our blessing – and the rest is history."

Indeed, Cruise only spent five months in New York City — busing tables at a restaurant while auditioning for acting jobs in his spare time — before he landed a small role in the 1981 movie "Endless Love," the coming-of-age drama starring Brooke Shields. The young Cruise kept booking more small movie roles until he landed his big break, starring in the 1983 comedy "Risky Business," an iconic role that became Cruise's first box-office hit, pulling in $63 million.

In total, Cruise's more than 40 films over the past few decades have grossed roughly $3.8 billion at the box office combined, according to Box Office Mojo. Meanwhile, Cruise is one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, earning a total of $43 million in 2017, according to CBS.

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