Tom Cruise is about as famous and iconic as a movie star can be. Ever since he rose to prominence in the 1980s with movies like Risky Business and Top Gun, Cruise has been one of the most beloved actors in the world. In his decades as an A-list movie star, Cruise has worked with all kinds of fan-favorite filmmakers.

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From Oliver Stone to John Woo to Francis Ford Coppola, Cruise has worked with some of the world’s most renowned directors. Cruise starred in Martin Scorsese’s only sequel and appeared in not one, but two sci-fi adaptations for Steven Spielberg.

10 Oliver Stone

Tom Cruise Born On The Fourth Of July

Oliver Stone has made political thrillers about the Nixon administration, the Kennedy assassination, and a pair of celebrity murderers. Stone’s movies are praised by critics, but as with any politically charged filmmaker, they’re also wildly controversial.

Cruise starred as Vietnam War veteran-turned-anti-war activist Ron Kovic in Stone’s biopic Born on the Fourth of July. This was a part of Stone’s trilogy of films about the Vietnam War (in which he served).

9 Brian De Palma

With his suspenseful set-pieces, voyeuristic cinematography, and violent storytelling, Brian De Palma was hailed as the Hitchcock of the New Hollywood movement. From Carrie to Blow Out to Scarface, De Palma has helmed some of the most acclaimed thrillers ever made.

De Palma directed Cruise’s first performance as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in the original Mission: Impossible movie. The first film was more of a grounded spy thriller than the mega-scale action blockbusters that would follow.


8 John Woo

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2

After De Palma kicked off the Mission: Impossible franchise with a standard spy movie, John Woo marked a radical tonal shift with the explosive blockbuster spectacle of Mission: Impossible 2.

Woo is one of the most renowned and beloved action directors of all time. The intense energy and visceral “gun fu” choreography of films like The Killer and Hard Boiled have inspired countless subsequent action filmmakers.

7 Ridley Scott

Tom Cruise in Legend

Ever since he transplanted the haunted house formula onto a spaceship in 1979’s Alien, Ridley Scott has been one of the most revered filmmakers on the planet. He’s since helmed such iconic, universally acclaimed movies as Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator.

Cruise appeared in one of Scott’s earliest – and most critically divisive – films: the ‘80s dark fantasy epic Legend. Cruise’s Jack follows a classic “hero’s journey” as he sets out to save the world from being shrouded in eternal nightfall by the Lord of Darkness.

6 Steven Spielberg

Tom Cruise using precog tech in Minority Report.

Everything Steven Spielberg touches turns to gold. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest action movies ever made, Jaws is one of the greatest horror movies ever made, and his recent West Side Story remake is one of the greatest musical movies ever made.

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Spielberg directed Cruise in two critically acclaimed sci-fi adaptations: Minority Report, a quintessential sci-fi noir based on a Philip K. Dick story, and War of the Worlds, an H.G. Wells-based alien invasion thriller with a paranoid post-9/11 sensibility.

5 Paul Thomas Anderson

Tom Cruise talks to his dying father in Magnolia

Paul Thomas Anderson recently received some of the best reviews of his career for Licorice Pizza, a ‘70s-set coming-of-age romance about a teenage actor/entrepreneur who falls for an aimless twentysomething photographer’s assistant.

This was the latest in a long line of P.T.A. movies set in the writer-director’s hometown of San Fernando Valley. Cruise appeared in the sprawling ensemble of one of Anderson’s other Valley-set movies, Magnolia, a Robert Altman-style “hyperlink” epic.

4 Francis Ford Coppola

the outsiders c thomas howell tom cruise rob lowe

One of the pioneering filmmakers of the New Hollywood movement, Francis Ford Coppola, helmed such timeless masterpieces as The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now.

Cruise appeared in the ensemble cast of Coppola’s coming-of-age gem The Outsiders. This movie was adapted from the 1967 novel of the same name by S.E. Hinton, which is credited with establishing the Y.A. genre.

3 Tony Scott

Cruise hasn’t just worked with Ridley Scott; he also worked with his late brother, Tony Scott, one of the most acclaimed and influential action directors of all time. He helmed such action-packed gems as True Romance, Man on Fire, and Unstoppable.

Scott first worked with Cruise on one of his most iconic action movies, Top Gun, and the two reunited for the NASCAR drama Days of Thunder.

2 Stanley Kubrick

Eyes Wide Shut Nicole Kidman Tom Cruise

From The Shining to A Clockwork Orange to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick directed some of the greatest movies ever made. Cruise starred alongside Nicole Kidman in one of Kubrick’s most underappreciated movies, Eyes Wide Shut, an erotic thriller about a masked sex cult.

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This ended up being Kubrick’s final film. The director passed away less than a week after showing his final cut to Warner Bros., so it became a posthumous release.

1 Martin Scorsese

Tom Cruise and Paul Newman in The Color of Money

With such masterpieces as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas under his belt, Martin Scorsese has joined the ranks of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived. Scorsese tends to cast Robert De Niro or Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead roles of his films, but Tom Cruise starred in one of his more underrated efforts.

Despite Scorsese’s disdain for franchises, he helmed the belated sequel to The Hustler, The Color of Money. Paul Newman reprised his role as pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson opposite Cruise as his budding young protégé.

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