Scouting celebrity beards for personal style inspiration is definitely a thing many guys do, and why not? The beard is in its prime. The only problem is that the soup of beard-sporting celebs we regularly tuck into is getting a bit bland, as in populated by the same crew including Jason Momoa, Idris Elba, Brad Pitt, LeBron James, and the three Chrises (Evans, Hemsworth, and Pratt).
So, to add some spice to the mix, we’re turning our sights to an actor who may not be as well-known for a full-time beard, but whose onscreen bearded moments definitely deserve some of our time. That’s right—you’ve seen the title, after all—we’re talking about Tom Cruise.
With a film career spanning more than 40 years, Tom Cruise is one of the most consummate actors of our time. He’s gone from a bartender to a US Air Force pilot to a vampire to a (sort of) samurai to a pickup artist extraordinaire to a vengeful secret agent—you get the picture. And while many of his most memorable lines were delivered with a clean-shaven face, his bearded moments shan’t be left in the dark any longer. Let’s take a look at Tom Cruise’s career through his many beards.
Born on the Fourth of July, 1989 (Mustache with trimmed beard)
In Born on the Fourth of July, Tom Cruise plays Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran whose real-life story inspired the film. In order to play Kovic to a T, especially in the early 1970s scenes, Cruise adopted a full mustache, beard, and long hair, completely transforming him from the clean-shaven air Maverick we saw in Top Gun just three years before.
Top tip: To get the look at home, first grow out the mustache until it’s got enough body, then trim into a shape and length that flatters your face. Next, let the beard grow out for a few days, and trim every so often to maintain a casual length.
Magnolia 1999 (Five o’clock shadow)
Magnolia sees Tom playing a somewhat sleezy pickup artist affecting the guise of a motivational speaker. While the performance got him an Oscar nom and a Golden Globes win, it’s his slight five o’clock shadow that gives each scene its due grit.
Top tip: All it takes to master this five o’clock shadow is a hard day or two’s work. Let your beard grow out naturally and, once you’re happy with the length, give it a trim every two or three days.
The Last Samurai 2003 (Beard with mustache)
We get a twofer in The Last Samurai, as Tom goes from goateed to fully-bearded once he takes up with Imperial Japanese Army for a training role. While the film is set in the 1870s, the look still comes across as pretty modern and easy to maintain.
Top tip: Although beard trimmers wouldn’t show up for another century or so, Cruise’s beard here is nicely trimmed and maintained. Grow out to a medium length, then gently trim to ensure you keep the body and length intact. This would be a great time to introduce a beard comb and some beard oil to your daily routine as well.
Collateral 2003 (Scruff)
Although it’s Cruise’s lush silvery hair that catches your eye first, it’s the healthy face of scruff that gives his shyster character Vincent its edge. The salt and pepper dusting of scruff really adds to Cruise’s facial features, looking both young and edgy and mature at the same time.
Top tip: Scruff like this is easy maintain: simply grow out your beard for a week, then trim to the desired length. Add some beard balm to your skincare routine to ensure the skin beneath stays soft and supple, as well as to prevent beard itch.
Tropic Thunder 2008 (Short boxed beard)
In Tropic Thunder, Tom Cruise plays Les Grossman, a cantankerous studio exec who’s both bald and bearded—everything Cruise is not, at least looks-wise. At first, he’s barely recognizable, but eventually the eyes and nose give him away. The beard, however, fills out his cheeks, completely changing the appearance of his face, before connecting with his forest of chest hair, thus demonstrating what a chameleon Tom really is.
Top tip: Cruise’s or, rather, Les Grossman’s beard takes a bit of trimming and sculpting to get right. After growing your scruff to a medium length, trim to ensure an even look, then shave the cheeks to drop the beardline to your desired area. This may take some adjustment to get correct, so start high and shave in quarter-inch increments.
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation 2015 (Natural, medium-length)
Tom’s oddly blond-looking beard in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation comes just after the halfway point, during a time in which he hadn’t had access to a razor for a while (to say more could reveal spoilers). But what we can say is that it’s about an inch long, very rough looking, and actually suits him quite well.
Top tip: Getting this kind of beard started is a cinch: just don’t shave for about two weeks, maybe even three, to allow the beard to grow to about an inch. From this point you can decide to either let it grow longer, or trim to a more manageable length. Be sure to regularly tidy up around the cheeks, lips and under the neck. Finish with a healthy dose of beard oil to add softness and shine.