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What I Learned about Being a Creative Person from Meeting Tom Cruise

With Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in theaters I thought it’d be fun to repost this article I wrote a couple years ago about Tom Cruise and the art of being yourself.

Have you ever wondered how to express yourself artistically in a way that captures the hearts and ignites the imagination of other people? I have, and I learned the secret as to how when I met Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise as Maverick

We all have a creative spark within us.

There are times we might not think so and we might not think of our creativity as anything special, but I disagree with that kind of thinking.

Your creativity is not only special, it is valuable.

A Maverick

Last year I met megastar, Tom Cruise. The man’s films have made a combined 8 billion dollars.

That’s huge! If box office dollars are used to gage the success of movies and the draw of actors or actresses, then Tom is undeniably at the top of the list.

Creativity is not always measured by financial success, but the more creative an actor or actress is, the more we are naturally drawn to him or her.

Sometimes though, one’s true creativity is not always obvious, until we understand what’s behind it.

In my opinion Tom is an extremely talented actor and uses his creativity in perhaps the best way possible by being himself and that’s what this post is about. I know he is a controversial person, so let’s only focus on his creativity in this article because there’s something positively valuable to learn from it.

Tom Cruise is not an accidental success.

When I met Tom Cruise I had the distinct feeling I was meeting Maverick from Top Gun or Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder or even, Ethan Hunt from Mission: Impossible.

When he shook my hand he looked me right in the eyes and said hello and I had to wonder for a moment if he was real or if I was meeting one of his characters in a vivid dream. Jerry Maguire, perhaps?

Tom Cruise’s persona was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

It was a very interesting experience, actually, because we were in an office with many other people, which (ahem) included Paula Patton, and Tom took time to talk to everyone, quite normally, even casually, but all the while I could not shake the impression he was one of his characters.

It made me want to pinch him, even though I had already shook his hand. Don’t worry, I didn’t.

He was real, and down to earth and extremely nice and gracious to everyone.

I learned something unexpected.

I wasn’t with those characters that day. I was with Tom Cruise. However, what I learned was that the characters he plays are a very real part of him.

What I mean is that Tom Cruise is an actor, but the majority of roles he plays are ones in which he basically can be himself.

He reminded me of John Wayne.

As you may know, Tom hasn’t won any academy awards yet and for that matter neither did John Wayne until very late, but nevertheless those two men are perhaps the biggest actors to ever show up on the silver screen, certainly the biggest draws by far.

One of the most frequent criticisms John Wayne received throughout his career was that all he did was play himself. It’s not surprising to me that Tom Cruise receives the same criticism.

I’d like to argue that being yourself should be a complement, and not a criticism.

Furthermore, here is my advice to anyone who creates:

Put as much of yourself into your art as you can. (Click here to tweet that.)

What I learned about being a truly creative person from Tom Cruise is this:

Be yourself.

Consider Robert Downey Jr.

Robert’s movies were pretty much way out there for a while, interesting and intriguing, but not really great. As special as his performances were, especially as Chaplin, something seemed to be missing.

However, when he took on the roles of Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Sherlock Holmes something magnificent happened.

He seemed to come into his own, didn’t he?

Now consider that the characters Tony Stark (Iron Man – Avengers) and Sherlock Holmes are kind of snarky and totally full of themselves, they love to wisecrack and play practical jokes. You could probably include Chaplin to a degree with them.

The question is, do they remind you of anyone?

Those things are what Robert Downey Jr. has been known for off camera his entire career.

That’s pretty interesting don’t you think?

It’s all about you.

You don’t have to reinvent yourself to be creative. (Tweet this)

Most people try so darn hard to be what they think other people want them to be and say things they think others want to hear.

That’s not creative. That’s frustrating.

If you want to be creative in the most remarkable way, be yourself. (Tweet this)

Just. Be. Yourself.

I am willing to bet you’re a very interesting and compelling person, so don’t hide.


How much of yourself do you put into your art? Share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I’m a positive writer and when that doesn’t work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • This was a great article. I completely agree with you that we must bring as much of ourselves into our art as possible. Drawing on our own experience and self is what makes it the most creative and genuine as it can be. And people are drawn to that. 

  • annepeterson

    Bryan, You are amazing. I loved this post because you encouraged us to be ourselves. To let whatever we have to offer be through us. I appreciate you.

    • Ah, Anne, so are you. And I appreciate the head’s up about ROLL that you sent me.

  • Bryan, today I will be myself. Thank you for the positive outlook. 

  • Great post Bryan. 

  • AManess

    This is a great post, Bryan. I love how positive and encouraging you are. This was a message I needed to hear today. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Marilynluinstra

    Thanks Bryan

  • What a great perspective, Love it!

  • I think that we are always creating who we are.  I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago.  I decided who I wanted to be, what kind of person I wanted to be, then worked on having those qualities.  Not all of the qualities came easy, yet practice makes perfect.  Thanks 

    • Devan, excellent point, we are always working ourselves, not working to be someone else.

  • Exactly what I needed to read this afternoon, thanks!

  • It’s easy to think that I’m just not as interesting as, say, Tom Cruise.  But you’re right in that what I create needs to have “me” in it. Great post!

    • Hi Heather, I so get what you are saying.  I think most of us think we are not that interesting as someone like him, but that’s why some of us try to reinvent ourselves or try to ‘act’ like someone else. It’s an approval thing, but our own. Truth is we don’t know how other people see us and maybe we are wonderfully interesting to others when we let our guard down and be ourselves for a while. Tom Cruise didn’t think he was that interesting and originally was going to Europe, not New York where he found his calling.

  • Bryan, Congratulations on being voted one of the 10 best blogs for Writers – I can certainly see why! I’m so glad I discovered you via their email this morning – I feel like you’re speaking to a very fragile place in my soul (which is suddenly being nourished from many unexpected directions), thank you for being a part of my journey.

  • Arrazi

    Nice tips sir. That what we must be. Be ourself at any condition.

  • Wow. Again. But I guess my problem is I’m not quite sure who I am yet. 🙂 Still figuring that out.

  • joe johnston

    Hmmm…whom shall I be today? Me, myself, or I.

  • Amy Morse

    What a great post (jealous you met Tom Cruise – Although I’d rather meet RDJ!) – A motivating and inspiring read and some nice comparisons. Thanks

  • Jennifer Blair

    “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” That must be true of this lesson. The last few months I have read a lot of Barbara Sher’s amazing books, gone to a class taught by a highly creative ceramic artist, Jason Walker, and then this morning, got this blog from you. All have made me aware that we are all unique, with a unique story to share.
    Barbara Sher insists we owe it to the world to share our gifts. Jason Walker’s art is full of personal narrative. And now you have reinforced thoose thoughts by saying our most creative self is our most authentic self.
    what does this mean in terms of my personal creativity? For me, as a casual hobbiest whho paints, writes, and dabbles in clay, it means to stop hiding, stop imitating, and start sharing.
    It means to reveal my personal story and that of my family. It means being more open and less private. But it also means exploring things I have taken for granted, and beginning to make sense of the mysteries of my life.
    Thank you for being a much- needed and timely teacher on this path. It is both exciting and scary at the same time – and that’s a good thing!

    • It is exciting and scary, but like you said, that’s a good thing!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Good articles provoke you to think differently
    While I still don’t believe Tom Cruise is any great shakes as an actor, my excitement about EVERY Mission Impossible movie proves that I am drawn to his stylish charisma!
    ENJOYED your piece, Bryan! #HUGS

    • Thanks, Krithika! “great shakes” – I need to steal that from you.

  • You sound like my mother when she told me many years ago, “Just be yourself, and people can’t help but love you.” I tell my boys that every so often now too. Must be something to the advice. The more I learn to just be who I was created to be, the more joy I experience in life too. Thanks, “Mom.”

  • Ann Marie Thomas

    A very timely post for me – thank you. I have just decided to stop being pulled in different directions and present myself as someone who writes many different things. I write medieval history, science fiction, poetry and I write about writing. So I have changed my mailing list to offer people something of everything. Accept me as I am and just take notice of the parts you are interested in. Your post has given me courage.

  • Brilliant article so many so called stars in the UK are not very nice to their fans although I did meet Nick Lowe and said to him, “I was so pleased when you became a millionaire.” I was blown away when he came over shook my hand and spoke to me. Maybe you guys in the USA haven’t heard of him but he’s a singer songwriter and all around nice bloke.
    Basically I think what the article is telling us is, never get above yourself. Keep your feet on the ground & be level headed and you will be fine.

  • mattmcgraw

    Thanks for the advice. I am a sometimes blogger and podcaster but have been unable to really find my voice, so to speak. I really appreciate what you have to say.