Tom Cruise shies away from sex -- The actor is trying to shed his sex symbol status of earlier years

Tom Cruise is arguably the sexiest man in movies. So how come audiences never get to see him in a love scene anymore? His latest, The Firm, has only one close encounter, and it’s so dark and tightly shot you’re not even sure it happens. But by grossing $74 million since it opened June 30, the film proves that Cruise has joined an elite class of leading men — like Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood — whose sexy reputations are not tied to blatant screen heat.

Early in his career, though, the lusty Cruise had no qualms about fooling around:

· In 1983’s Risky Business, suburban high schooler Cruise and call girl Rebecca De Mornay make love all over his parents’ house — not to mention on a train.
· In 1983’s All the Right Moves, Cruise strips down and does it with girlfriend Lea Thompson while crammed in a single bed.
· As a hot-blooded bartender in 1988’s Cocktail, Cruise sleeps his way around New York and Jamaica.
· While Dustin Hoffman watches, Cruise enjoys loud sex with Valeria Golino in 1988’s Rain Man.

Recently, Cruise has been all but neutered. In last summer’s Far and Away, he barely touched costar and real-life wife, Nicole Kidman. But that’s still more action than he had with Demi Moore in A Few Good Men.

Is this Cruise’s way of saying, ‘I’m a serious actor now’? ”The same thing was said about Redford and Paul Newman when they were younger,” argues Cruise’s spokeswoman Pat Kingsley, ”that they were sex symbols but there wasn’t much sex in their movies.” Kingsley chalks up the lack of love scenes to maturity. ”It was the tenor of the early movies; coming-of-age films are about discovering things like sex. Tom’s 31 years old now. He’s come of age.”

But it may be very difficult for Cruise to stay so chaste: It’s rumored he may play the vampire Lestat in Neil Jordan‘s Interview With a Vampire — a part that calls for plenty of heavy necking.