How Tom Cruise Made His Career After the Couch Jump

In 2005, America’s top actor seemed to annihilate his reputation and career with two daytime TV appearances. Twelve years later, here’s how Tom Cruise stealthily prevailed.

There have always been two of him: Tom Cruise the star— somehow cocksure and eager to please—who, by 26, had become the ideal of a Hollywood leading man, deftly juggling romantic comedy, serious acting and action movies. (In 1996 alone, he got an Oscar nomination for Jerry Maguire, and launched a billion-dollar action franchise, playing Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible.) And Tom Cruise the man, always a little problematic thanks to his involvement with Scientology—a connection that seemed more quirky than strange until his divorce from Nicole Kidman in 2001, blamed in part on the Church.  

And then, in May 2005, Cruise made a giddy spectacle of himself on , jumping up and down on

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