You thought you knew Tom Cruise’s filmography inside out? Do you think you’ve seen all of his films? Maybe one is missing from your list…
From his iconic roles in Top Gun / Top Gun Maverick or Mission: Impossible to his collaborations with the greatest filmmakers (Kubrick, Spielberg, Mann, Stone, Scott…) through his debut in Taps or Risky Business, we think know all the roles of Tom Cruise. Even his wink appearance at the very beginning of Austin Powers in Goldmember in “fake Austin of cinema”, or his cult incarnation of the producer Les Grossman of Thunder in the tropics.
However, an unknown forty-fifth feature film is to be credited in the actor’s filmography. A nugget from the 80s, which dynamized the codes of the western, called Young Guns. Released in July 1989 on French screens, the feature film revisits the youth of William H. Bonney alias Billy The Kid, as he avenges with his gang the murder of the English breeder who had taken him under his wing alongside of his “law enforcement officers” to protect his ranch.
Rhythmic, surprising, quirky, resolutely modern, the film is led by part of the young Hollywood guard of the time: Emilio Estevez and his brother Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney and Casey Siemaszko, surrounded by veterans Terence Stamp and Jack Palance. And… an extra named Tom Cruise ! You can actually see it at 1h39’20’‘, sporting a mustache, thick sideburns and a fake nose, get shot in the final shootout as the Kid’s gang is under siege.
Tom Cruise as a cowboy in Young Guns ? How did this happen? We are in 1987-1988 at the time of the shooting of the film. Cruise is far from a rookie. The phenomenon Top Gun has already made him THE star of the moment, he has just collaborated with Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman (The Color of Money) and he is about to shoot Cocktail and Rain Man. Playing the extras does not therefore appear to be the most logical step at this precise moment in his career.
His presence in the credits of Young Guns is linked to the “Brat Pack”, a group of young rising stars who appeared in productions for teenage audiences in the early 1980s. Emilio Estevezrevealed by Breakfast Club and partner of Tom Cruise in Outsiders, but also Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen. Actors with whom Cruise established a good relationship at the time, and whom he decided to visit on the set of Young Guns in Santa Fe.
On the spot, he who dreamed of shooting in a western (a genre he will approach in 1992 with Distant Horizons), is offered a small role by director Christopher Cain. An uncredited and unrecognizable appearance, as a “gunslinger”, for a few seconds during the final confrontation. For the record, Tom Cruise will return the courtesy a few years later to Emilio Estevezentrusting him with the small role (uncredited) of Jack Harmon in the first Impossible mission (1996).
You now know the little story behind this little-known – even unknown – role of Tom Cruise in Young Guns. A delightful feature film that sincerely deserves to be (re)discovered… if only to say “Yes, I have really seen all the Tom Cruise films”.
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