Tom Cruise's Career Almost Ended Before It Began Thanks to This Movie’s Controversial Ending
Today, Tom Cruise’s name means almost instant success for most movies — but apparently, the actor’s first film could cost him a career due to a massive backlash.
In Hollywood, there are few actors as influential as Tom Cruise. The actor’s name on the poster makes millions of people watch the movie, and his mere presence makes an event, a project, or anything, really, way more prestigious than it was before him. Tom Cruise is one hell of a household name, and his face is all over the industry.
However, this almost never happened. The first movie that launched Cruise to stardom and allowed for his decades-long Hollywood killing spree could admittedly end his career before it even began — all thanks to the original ending that never saw the light of the day after the massive backlash from the early viewers.
Back at the beginning of the 1980s, Tom Cruise was trying to pave his way to the top of Hollywood's food chain: the young actor already had a few movies behind him, but they were not enough to elevate him to the status of the leading man. That’s when his big breakthrough movie came. It was called Risky Business, and it was, indeed, risky.
One of young Cruise’s most iconic scenes — him sliding across the floor in boxers and a shirt — was from Risky Business, and both this scene and the movie itself were largely loved by the audience. The second audience, that is; the testing viewers were extremely unhappy with Risky Business, and that could’ve killed the film.
Director Paul Brickman didn’t want the movie to have a happy ending, and he was battling with the movie executive, David Geffen, about it. The test audience watched both versions — the director’s grim and the executive’s happy ones — and the former caused a massive backlash. For director Brickman, that was a tragedy.
"Shooting was quite good until [post production], when I had a difference of opinion on the ending. <...> I felt the whole film was compromised by this cheesy happy ending. I came very close to walking off the film,” shared Brickman.
In the end, the director stayed, and while he was extremely discontent with it, he left the “cheesy happy ending.” This was indeed the right move: the actual audiences loved the movie, Risky Business became an instant classic, and Tom Cruise’s phenomenal career started off really strong when he was just 19 years old.
But if director Brickman didn’t listen to the test audience and his movie executive, Risky Business could’ve also killed Cruise’s career before it even began by causing the same backlash…on a national scale.