Tom Cruise

updated 05/03/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/03/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The smirk, let's face it, was beginning to irk. So it was refreshing to learn that perpetual pleasure puss Tom Cruise was turning a bit peevish with the press. Why not? Droves of moviegoers didn't get anywhere near Far and Away. Ex-wife Mimi Rogers joshed in Playboy that their 1987 marriage had gone belly-up in 1990 because Cruise, mulling a career change from hunk to monk, "thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument." And his bravura turn in A Few Good Men, thought to be an Oscar-nominee shoo-in, was a shutout.

But now the grin is back, and there is a new bite to that pretty-boy flash of teeth and a dash more empathy in those hazel eyes. The actor once tagged Laserhead by the Days of Thunder' crew for his unflinching gaze, has turned 30 and, he has claimed, outgrown his joyless workaholism. The source of his mirth? Not money—though he'll be earning a reported $12 million for the screen version of The Firm—but domestic bliss with actress wife Nicole Kidman, 25, and their infant daughter, Isabella, adopted in January. "Until I met Nicole," Cruise has noted, "I always put my career ahead of everything. Now it's like a whole new life opened up." Still, he hasn't forgotten the days when romance was riskier business. On location in Memphis, Cruise spied a passel of prom-goers at a local restaurant and, "reminded of when I was taking my girl to the prom," footed the group's $200 tab and left the 10 teens floored. "I couldn't eat," said Mary Heather Hawkins, 19. "I just sat and stared at my food." Now, there's something to celebrate: a star who's gracious, far and away.

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