Tom Cruise was just 19 years old when he starred in "Risky Business." The fresh-faced kid from upstate New York was paid about $75,000 for his breakout role. Twenty-three years later, Cruise is one of Hollywood's biggest stars. In his latest film, he's reprising his role in "Mission: Impossible 3."
He is also half of one of the most talked-about couples in America. His sudden, and very public, romance with Katie Holmes took the world by surprise a year ago, and now Cruise and the 27-year-old actress are expecting a baby -- due any minute now.
And every day it seems, a new headline tells a different story -- they are breaking up; her parents, a Catholic family from Toledo, Ohio, don't like Scientology; the saga of the "silent birth" rituals; even that the baby isn't really his.
In an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer on "Primetime," Cruise confronts those rumors -- telling Sawyer that he and Holmes are happy and in love, and they are looking forward to getting married after the baby is born.
"We were just talking about it last night," Cruise said. "She has this beautiful belly, this glowing woman....We were walking up to bed, and I just, I can't wait till we get married. I can't wait till I can call and say, 'Hey, you know, put my wife on the phone.'"
On Scientology and Silent Birth
The 43-year-old actor is no stranger to the rumor mill, but he is determined not to let the gossip get to him.
"We're just a couple that are gonna have a baby and very excited about it, about this new life," Cruise said.
But of course, they are not just any couple. One area of his life that Cruise has become more open about is his belief in the controversial Church of Scientology.
Scientology, he says, gives people "tools to help better your life. That's what Scientology is. It helps you to improve your life."
But many of the church's tenets seem strange to non-believers. For example, Holmes will follow the Scientology practice of "silent birth." The philosophy behind silent birthing, according to Scientology, is that if children hear negativity while they are being born, it can cause permanent psychic scars.
But several stories have reported that Holmes would not be able to make any noise whatsoever during the birth, and that Cruise has even had a special "pacifier" made for her to keep her quiet. Cruise said that neither claims are true.
"It's basically just respecting the mother, you know, and helping to be quiet -- not the mother. The mother makes as much noise ... you know, she's going through it," he said. "But why have other people make noise? You know, you want that area very calm and to make it very special."
And Cruise dismissed the claim, which some say is consistent with Scientology, that Holmes would not be given any drugs during the birth even if she needed them.
"She does what she's gotta do, OK? ...We're there you know, with doctors," he said. "Whatever the woman wants. I'm not gonna tell Kate ...you know, if she needs an epidural, she's gonna get her epidural."
Calm Waters, Rough Waters
Cruise and Diane talked about the sex of the baby and the name he and Katie have chosen, both of which he knows.
Cruise has two children -- Isabella, 13, and Connor, 11 -- whom he adopted with his ex-wife Nicole Kidman. But he says fatherhood this time around is different.
"I can't say that it's greater than that at all. It's just different," he said. "And I can say with Kate, it's ... to have this with her is, it's really beautiful."
Cruise said he will be there for the delivery. He also insists, despite claims in the gossip magazines, that there are no problems between him and Holmes' parents, who are devout Catholics.
Growing up, Cruise attended 15 different schools in 12 years -- all made more terrifying by the fact that he had a learning disability. And he says he had a difficult relationship with his father.
"It was a roller-coaster ride with him," Cruise said of his father. "You know, there's calm waters and there's not calm waters. So you're kind of looking going... well, I'm never on safe ground here."
For 10 years, Cruise didn't see or talk to his father. Then he learned his father was dying and went to visit him in the hospital.
"Mostly, I just wanted him to know it was OK," he said. "It was mostly just him just getting a chance to see us. And he hadn't seen any of my films or anything like that. And I saw basically the level of regret that he had in his life. And that's, you know, I felt bad for him."
His father died in 1984. Not long after, Cruise joined the Church of Scientology, which says it can help clear people of past psychic scars.
'She Loves Cupcakes'
Of his now-legendary appearance on the "Oprah Winfrey Show," where he manically declared his love for Holmes, Cruise laughed and said, "Now there's some fun."
"People really have come out of the woodwork and felt very open now about discussing their couch-jumping experiences, you know in their own lives when they've gone through it, and the different things that they did when they, you know, when they found that person that they really love, and knew they were going to share the rest of their life with," he said.
When asked what he has learned about Holmes since their relationship began, Cruise called her "extraordinary" -- a word that comes up often when he talks about her.
"She's got this spirit," he said. "She'll get in the back of that, you know, these airplanes and want to fly. [She] has that sense of adventure."
As for the little things, Cruise says "she loves cupcakes...she loves to laugh."
And when pressed, he said that Holmes only "drives him crazy" in a good way.
"Her smile drives me crazy in a good way. She has this thing that she does with her tongue when she smiles," he said. "When she's really laughing when her tongue sticks out. And so I've seen people that have photographed that, and it's the cutest thing. But ...when we're riding motorcycles ...I tell her look, please don't stick your tongue out. If we hit a bump or anything I get a little bit nervous."
And right then, during a break in the interview, and an aide walked up and handed Cruise a BlackBerry. He began messaging with Holmes who wrote, "love you, way to go, have a great interview!! No baby action yet."
When the "baby action" time does come, Cruise said he will tell his child "what a beautiful life you're gonna have."
"I remember doing that with ...both Isabella and Connor, just talking about all the fun that we're gonna have together in the future and all the great things we're gonna do," Cruise said. "And I can't wait ...I can't wait to meet this baby."