A lot changed for Katie Holmes when she met Tom Cruise — not just personally, but professionally. The two became a couple in 2005, gave birth to daughter Suri and married in 2006, and ultimately went their separate ways six years later following the announcement of their divorce on Friday (June 29).
Between her marriage and divorce from Cruise, Holmes’ professional life went through several ups and downs, beginning with her two-year hiatus from acting between 2005 and 2008 — a pause that occurred during what was perhaps the most exciting time in the actress’ career.
In the years before her relationship with Cruise began, Holmes put an end to her longtime role in “Dawson’s Creek” and enjoyed celebrated turns in “Go,” “Wonder Boys” and “Pieces of April.” But her biggest role to date came very shortly before becoming a public item with the “Top Gun” actor, a role that saw her at the center of a genre-defining franchise: Christopher Nolan’s Batman series.
Holmes starred in the filmmaker’s 2005 picture “Batman Begins” as Rachel Dawes, an assistant district attorney who had a history with Bruce Wayne and a tendency to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her performance was the most criticized of the “Begins” cast, though not necessarily because of her work; she was surrounded by an all-star group of once and future Oscar winners and nominees, including Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson — a tough act to stand up to for any young actor.
She had the opportunity to prove her detractors wrong with “The Dark Knight,” Nolan’s 2008 sequel to “Begins” that debuted with the single-greatest domestic opening weekend at that time. (It’s now ranked third, behind “Avengers” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”) The Dawes character played a pivotal, tragic role in the shaping of both Batman and one of the film’s primary antagonists, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent. But the actress was not around to meet the challenge.
Filming on “Dark Knight” was set to begin around the same time that Holmes’ work hiatus was coming to an end in early 2007. But the actress, newly married to Cruise, decided not to return to gritty Gotham City, opting instead for a role in the considerably sunnier “Mad Money,” a bank-heist comedy co-starring Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah. To hear Holmes tell it, she had no regrets about saying goodbye to Batman forever.
“I wish them all the best for this summer,” Holmes told MTV News in 2008 ahead of the release of “Dark Knight.” “I had a great experience working with Chris Nolan, [and] I’m sure it’s going to be a great movie. [But] I chose to do this movie [’Mad Money’], and I’m really proud of it.” Critics did not share Holmes’ pride: the film earned a 23 percent fresh rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com and netted only $20.5 million during its box-office run.
In fairness, Holmes’ return to acting after marrying Cruise and giving birth to their daughter came with a wide variety of diverse credits — some well-received, and others … not so much.
After a brief but revealing (in more ways than one) turn in 2000’s “The Gift,” Holmes tried her hand at horror again with 2010’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” this time as a lead. The film fared slightly better with critics than “Mad Money”; if nothing else, Holmes embraced a challenging role (with a shocking ending) wholeheartedly. Holmes also dabbled in television during her marriage to Cruise, with memorable guest-starring turns on “Eli Stone” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Additionally, she committed to the iconic role of Jackie Kennedy opposite Greg Kinnear as JFK in “The Kennedys” — a miniseries that was critically maligned even before it hit airwaves, ultimately settling on mixed reviews upon its debut. Her case was not helped much by her involvement in “Jack and Jill,” the Adam Sandler comedy widely regarded as the low point of the comedian’s career.
In her post-Cruise future, Holmes has two promising projects on the horizon. She’s attached to an untitled Christian Camargo film alongside a strong cast, including William Hurt, Michael Nyqvist and Allison Janney. In addition, she’ll star in “Responsible Adults,” a romantic comedy that sees Holmes playing a med student who starts a romantic relationship with a young man (Zac Efron) she babysat 15 years earlier.
Correlation is not causation, but there’s no denying that during her marriage to Cruise, Holmes’ work as an actress paled in comparison to the excitement of her headline-grabbing personal life. (She certainly never met the heights that her fellow “Dawson’s” veteran Michelle Williams, a three-time Oscar nominee, has enjoyed.) Though attention is bound to center on her divorce in the days and weeks to come, one hopes that it won’t be long before Holmes finds her way back to the exciting path her career was on before her relationship with Cruise began — for her sake and ours.
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