Risky Business: A Tom Cruise Comeback

Tom Cruise will revisit the Oprah couch he famously jumped on later this week.

April 30, 2008 — -- It's been an odd couple of years for Tom Cruise.

In May 2005, Cruise made headlines for an overly rambunctious appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" after he began jumping on the host's couch in excitement over his budding romance with actress Katie Holmes.

Then, in June of that same year and just one week after proposing atop the Eiffel Tower to Holmes — whom he had been dating for only three months — Cruise made yet another controversial on-air appearance, this time on NBC's "Today" show.

In an interview with host Matt Lauer, Cruise said that he'd "never agreed with psychiatry," something he considered to be a "pseudoscience," and added that he doesn't believe in "chemical imbalances."

Cruise went on to say that anti-depressant drugs only "mask" problems that could otherwise be solved with "exercise and vitamins," and stuck to his theory even after Lauer brought up actress Brooke Shields, who had just recently gone public with her struggle with postpartum depression. The actor later apologized to Shields for his remarks.

Also an outspoken advocate for Scientology, Cruise and wife Holmes soon made headlines again when reports emerged that they would conduct a "silent birth" for their daughter, Suri Cruise, who was born in April 2006. A silent birth, according to the religion, discourages speaking during the birthing process.

This year, Cruise, 46, was set to star as a German officer leading a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler in "Valkryie." The movie sparked controversy and debate after the German government banned the producers from filming at historical landmarks.

Eventually the ban was lifted, but the movie's release was still delayed from June 2008 until President's Day weekend 2009, a move the production company said was timed to profit from a big holiday box office weekend.

So when news broke that Cruise will not only return to television but to Oprah's couch, some began to wonder if Cruise was orchestrating a comeback.

His last movie was Mission Impossible 3 in 2006, which did well at the box office, grossing almost $400 million. He's since left Paramount to form a movie production company called Cruise/Wagner Productions.

Can Cruise Salvage His Repution?

"Going back on 'Oprah' — going back to the scene of the crime — is a brilliant thing to do," said Howard Bragman, founder of public relations firm Fifteen Minutes, who is certain Cruise can make a comeback. "[Cruise] is a really smart guy and will go on [the show] and I bet you will make fun of himself."

"And we love it in America when you make fun of yourself," said Bragman.

Cruise is returning to "Oprah" on May 2 and May 5 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his film "Risky Business," the movie that arguably launched his career into stardom.

"It's like a piñata syndrome," said Bragman of Cruise's up-and-down reputation in the eyes of the public. "We like to raise people really high and then beat them with sticks and see what comes out.

"And for some twisted reason the average person gets off when someone famous messes up or shows they have issues."

Has Cruise Become a 'Joke'?

His fortunes may depend on whether Cruise can recast his brand, one that some image experts told ABCNEWS.com has become somewhat of a joke.

"Cruise has become someone you almost laugh at," said Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5W Public Relations. "People talk about him like they would about Michael Jackson or Mike Tyson."

"He's trying to reshape his brand," said Torossian, "but it's going to take a lot more than one appearance on 'Oprah' to make a comeback."

Torossian said Cruise's behavior over the past few years has cast him as a strange guy in many people's minds, a stigma that he will have to overcome to make a true comeback.

"A series of weird things have happened and people now think of him in a weird way," said Torossian. "He's an odd guy."

Just a few days before his upcoming return to 'Oprah,' singer Cher revealed on the same show that she had once dated Cruise.

Both Bragman and Torossian didn't have an answer as to whether this fact would hurt or help Cruise's case, but agreed it's another "strange" thing to add to Cruise's resume.

Still, Bragman remains hopeful that Cruise's reputation isn't doomed.

"How many times has John Travolta come back when we thought his career was dead," said PR guru Bragman. "We love a great comeback story in America."

"If we loved you once we'll love you again," he added.