Tom Cruise improvised the underwear dance in Risky Business

Well before his death-defying stunts in Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise was showing off his dance moves in the '80s movie Risky Business

Tom Cruise in Risky Business

Tom Cruise has been a Hollywood star almost as long as he’s been acting. One of his earlier hits was ’80s movie Risky Business, with that great dance sequence when he’s in his underwear. Turns out, that was entirely improvised, proving he already had a knack for making an entrance.

In a 1986 chat with Interview Magazine, Tom Cruise spoke about collaborating with director Paul Brickman on that. They tried several songs, but only ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ by Bob Seger fit. From there, Cruise took charge. “I took the candlestick, and I said, ‘How about making this the audience?’ And then I just started ad-libbing, using it as a guitar, jumping on the table,” Cruise recalled.

Floors were waxed, to make gliding easy, and the scene just got bigger from there. “As we went along, I threw more stuff in. Like the thing with the collar up, jumping on the bed,” Cruise states. “Originally, it was only one line in the script: ‘Joel dances in underwear through the house’. We shot it in half a day.”

Risky Business was very much a breakthrough Tom Cruise movie, establishing him as a leading performer. He plays Joel, a rich, young high school student in Chicago who goes on a wild weekend when his parents skip town.

The comedy movie was a huge success for all involved, not least Bob Seger, whose song became part of the fabric of Cruise’s career. The scene in question is very much an indication of Cruise’s charisma in front of the camera, and his anecdote about production goes to show he knew a thing or two about getting the most of a character beat as well.

Nowadays, he’s all about the Mission: Impossible action movies. The latest, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One, is in theatres June 14, 2023. Fingers crossed for another dance-along.