America’s favorite movie star, the action ass-kicker of the last decade (or two, or three), and professional big-smiler Tom Cruise has the uncanny ability to charmingly dominate each and every film he stars in. That’s what being a leading man is all about, really, but Cruise manages to do it while surrounded by all kinds of seemingly distracting things – attractive co-stars, cool technological gadgets, extreme sports – and is still able to consistently emerge as the main event. But even when Cruise is the biggest of a film’s big stars and attractions, he still needs a little sidekick action to drive both his character and the narrative. Tom Cruise is a good leading man, but he’s a great leading man to work alongside.
But if Cruise is the kind of guy any sidekick would love to accompany, is it possible to pick out the best of his cinematic buddies? Of course it is! And, yes, it’s totally possible we’ve left out your very favorite cinematic sidekick, so feel free to share who we so obviously missed in the comments (nicely!). Until then, here’s our definitive ranking.
12. Other Jacks (Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise), Oblivion
Sidekick duties: Minimal, mainly because (spoiler alert?) all the other Jack Harpers in Joseph Kosinski’s visually stunning and otherwise disappointing sci-fi film think they are the real Jack Harper. No one wants to be a sidekick, they think they’re the guy.
Actual helpfulness: Low, although watching clones fight each other looks awesome.
Success rate: Surprisingly high, considering that it’s another clone (not the main one we’ve been following for the entire film) who carries on the legacy of the Jack we’ve come to know best over the course of the film. Nice work, Tech 52.
11. Tighty whities, Risky Business
Sidekick duties: Support.
Actual helpfulness: Well, they keep Cruise’s Joel Goodson (minimally) clothed during the film’s most iconic scene. They do their job, that’s for sure.
Success rate: Ultimately, much higher than Joel’s home brothel business.
10. Cryonic sleep (eh, delusion), Vanilla Sky
Sidekick duties: Lucid dreaming to keep Cruise’s David Aames in a lovely state of eh, sure, this is real after a bad drug overdose snuffed him out of the “real world.”
Actual helpfulness: Really helpful! Until David figures out what’s actually going on, thanks to his own subconscious’ attempt to override the dream. Just keep dreaming, buddy.
Success rate: Low.
9. Dancing, Tropic Thunder
Sidekick duties: Sweet hip-swiveling skills, deep rap appreciation, bad facial hair.
Actual helpfulness: Minimal, but damn if it didn’t make for some memorable sequences.
Success rate: Medium, if only because it served to remind everyone how funny and weird Cruise can be when he wants to.
8. Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), Cocktail
Sidekick duties: Brown’s Doug Coughlin is a lot of things to Cruise’s Brian Flanagan – mentor, business partner, best friend. And then he screws him (well, he screws Brian’s cougar lady friend and then steals their business idea).
Actual helpfulness: Super-high in the beginning, really low in the middle, hard to quantify by the end.
Success rate: Medium, over ice.
7. Terrifying haircut, Collateral
Sidekick duties: To terrify, to obscure, to attempt to make Cruise’s nameless and nefarious hitman look not so Cruise-cute.
Actual helpfulness: High. The guns, however, might have the edge here.
Success rate: Medium, little pink in the middle.
6. Ray Boyd (Jonathan Lipnicki), Jerry Maguire
Sidekick duties: Be adorable, provide fun trivia, melt Jerry’s heart in every possible way.
Actual helpfulness: Very helpful, as it’s tiny Ray that eventually helps Jerry realize that, hey, there’s stuff out there that’s a lot more important than business. And, also, that you complete me.
Success rate: A high medium, if only because his success rate is high but his intentions are negligible. At least we’ll always remember how much the human head weighs.
5. Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), Rain Main
Sidekick duties: Card counting, brotherly love.
Actual helpfulness: High, as it’s Raymond’s skills that allow Cruise’s Charlie to cover his debts, win back his lady, and learn to love again (aww).
Success rate: High, as Raymond is the catalyst for just about everything good thing that happens to Charlie in the film.
4. Heyman the Monkey, Rock of Ages
Sidekick duties: Be a monkey, provide alcohol, have cool name.
Actual helpfulness: Cruise’s hard-rocking Stacee Jaxx has a lot of wannabe sidekicks in the 2012 adaptation of the beloved stage musical – his hips, his tattoos, his pipes, his groupies, his sunglasses, his groupies — but only Heyman the monkey appears to have the necessary respect for his boss and the drive to accomplish each and every one of his duties with serious style.
Success rate: High (and, also, probably actually high).
3. Fighter jet, Top Gun
Sidekick duties: Be a fighter jet, look cool, provide Cruise’s Maverick with a livelihood.
Actual helpfulness: It’s a machine, and thus is does what it is built to do – which is kick ass and take names in a militaristic setting. Motorcycles? Please, call me when you can fly.
Success rate: Higher than Goose’s. (Sorry.)
2. Flag, Far and Away
Sidekick duties: The claim flag at the end of Far and Away has exactly one duty to perform: mark the land that Cruise’s Joseph Donnelly is attempting to claim as his own during the exceedingly thrilling final act of the Ron Howard film. This is a “you had one job” situation, and you know what? The flag does it, and does it with style. You forgot about the flag, and you really shouldn’t have.
Actual helpfulness: It has one job. It does it (certainly better than Joseph’s two horses, one of whom dies, while the other runs away).
Success rate: High-flying.
1. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Edge of Tomorrow
Warner Bros. Pictures
Sidekick duties: What duties doesn’t Rita have? She’s tasked with explaining the mechanics of what’s happening in the new sci-fi, alien invasion war film to Cruise’s kinda lame (at least originally) Major William Cage, then she has to teach him to fight, then she has to go into battle, then she has to save the world. And she has to do this over and over again, fresh each day. She’s also good at yoga, though she never seems intent on teaching her practice to Cage.
Actual helpfulness: Extremely high. Nothing in Edge of Tomorrow would work out appropriately if Rita wasn’t around.
Success rate: Extremely high. She’s the real hero of the film, but she still makes Cruise look like the star. Nice work, sidekick supreme.
Who is your favorite Tom Cruise cinematic sidekick?
Related Topics: Tom Cruise