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Tom Cruise in Collateral

Tom Cruise is freaking insane. I’m not talking about him jumping on the couch or his personal life at all. I’m talking about the characters he plays in his movies. The dude gets totally absorbed in any character he embodies. And this can be scary at times since he usually does his own stunts. This means that’s him running along the side of a building!

Over Tom Cruise’s long career, he’s played a multitude of characters, some tame, some not tame. But this list is not about the tame characters. It’s about the hardcore ones! Now, “hardcore” is a very subjective word, and you might not think that some of these characters are really all that metal at first glance. But just hear me out. Every one of these characters is hardcore with a capital H. Or should I say a capital TC? Actually, no, that doesn’t make any sense. Well, anyway, on with the list!

Joel Goodson

10. Joel Goodson (Risky Business)

Joel Goodson (Get it? Good? Son? Goodson!) is a good kid. Or so one would think. But that’s before his parents leave him alone with a house to himself and he starts dancing around in his underwear and having sex on the subway.

But what makes Joel Goodson hard freaking core is when he starts dealing with Guido the killer pimp! Madness ensues. I mean, just imagine. You’re a high school kid with your whole life ahead of you, and when the college admission dude comes to your house to interview you, you slap him on the knee (while a party is going on right behind you, no less), toss on some shades and drop an F-bomb right in front of him. You don’t get much more hardcore than that.

Frank T.J. Mackey

9. Frank T.J. Mackey (Magnolia)

“Respect the cock!” A lot of people like to think this is a game, but it’s not. At least not when it comes to motivational speaker, Frank T.J. Mackey. Frank T.J. Mackey is so hardcore that he can thrust his crotch in front of cheering men and still make it not seem homoerotic when it definitely is, and is most likely meant to be.

Frank T.J. Mackey is so hardcore though because he can go on an interview and straight up LIE about his family history, and then profanely ask the interviewer what her question was again. That takes commitment.

Les Grossman

8. Les Grossman (Tropic Thunder)

First Joel "Good son" and now Les “Gross Man”. Well, at least these last names aren’t subtle. But Les from Tropic Thunder does not give a crap about what you think. It's his way or the highway. He’s a studio exec and he’s going to save this sinking ship of a production, even if somebody else's life depends on it.

Les Grossman is so hardcore that he can get some heroin runners on the phone and shut them the hell up. You know why? Because he’s Les freaking Grossman. He’s also one hell of a dancer. Side note: what’s with Tom Cruise and dancing? He really loves to bust a move.

Barry Seal

7. Barry Seal (American Made)

Based on a real life person, Barry Seal (At least in the movie, American Made) starts out working with the CIA, then ends up smuggling drugs. And then guns! Of course he manages to attract the attention of the DEA in the process.

But he’s a great flyer. Not quite Maverick-great (I’ll get to him later), but damn good all the same. And anybody who can run from the DEA and laugh about it is hardcore in my book.

Jack Reacher

6. Jack Reacher

Even though the author, Lee Child, thinks Tom Cruise is too old to play Jack Reacher (and also, apparently, too short) Tom Cruise proves that he can still kick some ass, even into his 50s.

What makes Jack Reacher so hardcore is that he’s a street fighter and a sick driver. He's also tough as nails. Ask Jack Reacher who the hell he is, and he’ll tell you. He’s the guy you didn’t count on. Just proving that age and height ain’t nothing but numbers.

Major William Gage

5. Major William Gage (Edge of Tomorrow)

Major William Gage is having a rough day. Again and again and again. After “dying” in a brutal war with some space creatures, he wakes up the day before it happened only to find that he keeps ending up in a loop, a la Groundhog Day.

But unlike Bill Murray's character, Major William Gage learns to become a complete bad ass, dying over and over again until he’s ready for full battle mode. And what’s more hardcore than being willing to die a grisly death after grisly death until you finally “git gud"? When the hell is the sequel coming out? That’s what I want to know.

Maverick

4. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Top Gun)

Maverick is on a highway to the danger zone every second of his life. He’s a reckless man, often taking risks that the higher ups don’t like, but when it comes to a dogfight, he’s the guy you want backing you up.

Maverick is hardcore because he always feels the need for speed. Plus, his inverted maneuver shouldn’t even be possible in an actual dogfight. Only the hardcore need apply. I’m super psyched for the sequel.

Lestat

3. Lestat (Interview With the Vampire)

You can only truly tell how hardcore Lestat is when you compare him to his apprentice, Louis. Lestat likes drinking human blood. Louis, played by Brad Pitt, is drinking from rats because he doesn’t want to hurt humans. Louis drinks a girl’s blood because he can’t help it during the plague. Lestat turns said girl into a vampire.

But the most hardcore scene of Lestat is when he drinks some swamp creatures' blood after the little girl and Louis try to kill him, and he greets them again by playing a Piano Sonata. How can it be? Well, it’s because “there’s life in these old hands still.”

Vincent

2. Vincent (Collateral)

Vincent is so hardcore that he takes a cab to his killings. As a no-nonsense hitman, Vincent is probably Tom Cruise’s most badass character to date. But this list isn’t about being badass. It’s about being hardcore, and Vincent is that, too.

He kills people over a briefcase, can survive a car crash, and even makes his driver tell his boss that he’s going to shove the taxi cab right up his fat ass. Because not only is Vincent hardcore, but he also wants to make other people hardcore, too. How nice of him.

Ethan Hunt

1. Ethan Hunt (Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation)

Ethan Hunt could have filled up almost this entire list since he gets more and more hardcore in every Mission: Impossible movie. Really, you just have to take your pick. And it’s all the more impressive because Tom Cruise does his own stunts in these movies, making the danger factor even more extreme.

But what’s your favorite Ethan Hunt moment? Is it the one where he’s running on the side of a building in Ghost Protocol? What about the motorcycle scene in Rogue Nation? The motorcycle scene in Fallout? Seriously, every action scene is more hardcore than the last. But my favorite is definitely when Ethan Hunt is hanging onto a plane as it’s taking off in Rogue Nation. Like, what is wrong with Tom Cruise? Is he nuts?

He is! And that’s why he’s so awesome. Lee Child might think he’s too old to keep doing these action movies, but as long as the man has hardcore in his heart, why not? Long live Tom Cruise!

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