If you have a Blockbuster card, 12 hours to kill and $20 burning a hole in your pocket, humor me and try this:
Go rent the DVD "Top Gun." And "Cocktail." And "Jerry Maguire," "Vanilla Sky" and "The Last Samurai." If you're really ambitious -- or still living in mom and dad's basement -- rent the entire Tom Cruise filmography, lock, stock and "Collateral." Now, tell me that the role scientology boy plays in every one of those films, going back to "All the Right Moves" and "Risky Business," isn't one and the same.
That's right: It's Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise. Because whether we're supposed to believe it's Maverick, Charlie Babbitt or Ethan Hunt, and whether he's bound to a wheelchair, lilting a heavy Irish brogue or saving little Dakota Fanning from an alien invasion, Cruise still is playing roughly the same dude on screen.