When the Internet Takes Away Our Paul Newman

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Building up to 2005, [Tom] Cruise had tackled some of the most challenging dramas of any actor of his generation: Eyes Wide ShutMagnoliaVanilla Sky. Even his popcorn flicks — Minority Report,CollateralWar of the Worlds — were intriguingly dark. He’d never played it safe or shot a cash-grab. He trusted that if he chose movies he believed in, the audience would follow. And he was right.

Post-2005, we’ve lost out on the audacious films that only Hollywood’s most powerful and consistent star could have convinced studios to greenlight. Cruise was in his mid-40s prime — the same years when Newman made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting — and here he was lying low, like the kid who’d run away to London. Imagine the daring roles that he hasn’t dared to pursue. Cruise’s talent and clout were responsible for an unparalleled string of critical and commercial hits. We gave that up for a gif.

-In which LA Weekly’s Amy Nicholson argues that YouTube and gossip blogs played a big part in convincing America that Tom Cruise was crazy.

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Sam Stecklow is a contributor to Longreads' blog, an editorial fellow at The Morning News, a contributor to The Airspace, and has seen every episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun.
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