Bad Hair Decades

Mullets, Bobs, and More Tom Cruise Hairstyles (Photos)

Rock of Ages, the singing and dancing epic, is out today, showcasing more than Tom Cruise’s acting talents. His hair takes on a role of its own—swaying and banging to each choreographed number. But these long locks are just one outrageous style he’s worn for a role. From his mullet in Rain Man to a stark white ’do in Collateral, Anna Klassen explores the follicular stylings of Tom Cruise’s characters.

Clockwise from top left: Getty Images; Warner Bros. Pictures; Everett Collection (2)

Clockwise from top left: Getty Images; Warner Bros. Pictures; Everett Collection (2)

Rock of Ages, the singing and dancing epic, is out today, showcasing more than Tom Cruise’s acting talents. His hair takes on a role of its own—swaying and banging to each choreographed number. But these long locks are just one outrageous style he’s worn for a role. From his mullet in Rain Man to a stark white ’do in Collateral, Anna Klassen explores the follicular stylings of Tom Cruise’s characters.

Everett Collection

The Outsiders (1983)

Role: Rowdy and arrogant Steve Randle, a member of the Greaser gang and fellow member Sodapop’s best friend.

The 'do: Thick, greasy hair continuously groomed into complicated comb patterns.

What it says about the character: Steve Randle is smart—he knows everything about cars and can even hold off a gang of opponents with just a broken soda bottle. He’s also tall, lean, and cocky, and his perfectly kempt style and greased curls perfectly capture his over-the-top confidence. Like most Greasers, Steve can always be found with comb in hand.

Rights Managed

Film: Risky Business (1983)

Role: Naive opportunist Joel Goodsen, a teenager who gets more than he bargained for when his parents go out of town and leave him by his lonesome.

The 'do: Middle-parted, on the verge of a “penis haircut.”

What it says about the character: The penis cut is appropriate for the cocky, young protagonist, who deals in “human fulfillment.” His haircut is a literal translation of his “career,” his young and excitable nature, and the running sexuality theme that threads through the film.

Film: Legend (1985)

Role: Jack, a young peasant boy who saves the princess he loves (and, expectedly, the world) from a creature named Darkness.

The 'do: Playful, lots of volume, ready for the cover of a romance novel.

What it says about the character: Jack is your typical archetypical lead—he’s strong, ambitious, and romantic. His perfectly casual yet neatly layered cut is versatile enough to make us believe he can be swinging swords one minute, and having a day-date meeting unicorns with the princess the next.  

Film: Rain Man (1988)

Role: Charlie Babbitt, a self-centered and money-driven Californian who finds out he has an autistic older brother who is set to inherit their recently deceased father’s $3 million estate.

The 'do: Straight mullet—business in the front, party in the back.

What it says about the character: Our protagonist, a close-minded businessman, rocks the mullet to showcase his trendiness. Yes, there was a time when having a mullet was like owning a pair of black Ray-Ban Wayfarers—everyone had one. So while the mullet in today’s pop culture isn’t yet retro enough to resurface as cool, in this instance, Cruise is meant to look sexy with this now-awkward style. 

Film: Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Role: Ron Kovic, a real-life paralyzed Vietnam War vet who became an activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

The 'do: Shoulder-length and scrappy.

What it says about the character: After dreaming of being a Marine since he was a young boy, Cruise’s character is disillusioned with the Vietnam War when he comes home paralyzed and unfulfilled. His hair—messy, long, unwashed, and grungy—is his statement of rebellion: the once-ideal son and serviceman turned against his childhood beliefs to take part in a national uprising. Add in a bushy and downright dirty mustache, and he looks like a bona-fide hippie.

Film: Interview With a Vampire (1994)

Role: An early player in the vampire craze, Lestat de Lioncourt, a powerful member of the un-dead, using his unearthly powers to transform others into his kind and slaughter mortals by the dozen. 

The 'do: Fantastical long, blond curls.

What it says about the character: The wavy platinum ringlets represent his superior status and supernatural state. Worn in a ponytail or around his shoulders, this versatile look is so over-the-top and stylized, we know exactly who’s in charge. Like the Malfoys of the Harry Potter legacy, the Lioncourts also feature the eerie, long, white hair.

Film: Collateral (2003)

Role: Vincent, a suave and slightly psychopathic hit man.

The 'do: Stark white and cropped.

What it says about the character: The hair, a white cropped cut that looks like it may or may not be hiding a Bump It underneath its top layer, is the only thing about Cruise’s character that appears outwardly odd. In a gray suit and top-button-undone crisp, white dress shirt, he looks like your typical wealthy businessman. But the hair, that awkward pale shade of beige, is the first visual clue that this businessman has a secret—spoiler alert: He’s a cold-blooded killer.

Christopher Polk

Film: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Role: Overweight, balding agent Les Grossman, the ultimate douchebag, who has a secret talent of grinding and grooving to Flo Rida.

The 'do: Balding, with full beard, mustache, and lingering chest hair.

What it says about the character: He’s gross—like borderline Fat Bastard gross—and his suspenders, pot belly, abundant chest hair, and shiny head are a podium for his completely uncensored dialogue and raunchy dance moves.

Photo Credit: David James

Film: Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (2011)

Role: Legendary Secret Service agent Ethan Hunt, who saves the world yet again.

The 'do: Saucy bob, lots of movement and volume.

What it says about the character: He’s established, smart, and equipped with a Batman-like set of martial-arts skills. He can pretty much do whatever he wants, and his hair elevates this claim. Swaying and smoldering with every flick of the brow, Hunt’s locks are effortlessly indifferent.

David James

Film: Rock of Ages (2012)

Role: Legendary performer Stacee Jaxx, who has women begging for him to sign their bosoms, and conservative councils trying to have his overly sexual music banned.

The 'do: First-class rocker (with or without bandana).

What it says about the character: Nothing is left to the imagination with this clichéd rocker cut. Greasy, long, scraggily, and yet—so hot, this look exemplifies why gobs of women (and men) go weak at the knees for Stacee Jaxx’s stage presence.