Pay close attention to a scene near the end of Minority Report where Tom Cruise’s Paul Anderton approaches a hotel clerk to ask about a guest there. The employee is thoroughly unhelpful…until Anderton points his gun at him. The actor assaying the clerk, William Mapother, is much more than your average bit player. — Dave Karger

VITAL STATS Mapother is Cruise’s first cousin (their fathers were brothers). Born in Louisville, Ky. Single. At age 37, he’s two years younger than Cruise. At 6’1”, he’s about five inches taller. Mapother (pronounced MAY-puh-ther) is also Cruise’s birth surname.

THE CRUISE CONNECTION Minority Report is the eighth film they’ve worked on together. Mapother first toiled as a production assistant on Cocktail (1988) and Rain Man (1988); he then served as his cousin’s personal assistant on Born on the Fourth of July (1989), in which he also appeared as a soldier; he spoke his first lines as a track star in Without Limits (1998), which Cruise produced. Since then he’s scored small roles in Magnolia (1999), Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), and Vanilla Sky (2001).

CAREER HIGH Won strong reviews in his first major role as Marisa Tomei’s abusive husband in last year’s Oscar-nominated In the Bedroom, directed by Cruise’s Eyes Wide Shut costar Todd Field. ”Tom said to me one night, ‘You’ve really got to meet my cousin William — he reminds me so much of you,”’ recalls Field, who soon bonded with Mapother, thanks to a shared love of literature. ”When we got financing, I said, ‘I want you to play this role.’ And he said, ‘But I have to audition!”’ He did, and eventually won the part over 30 other actors.

CAREER LOW His one scene as a bartender in Almost Famous, directed by Cruise’s Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky collaborator Cameron Crowe, ended up on the cutting-room floor.

FUTURE PLANS He has rewritten a comedy screenplay for Cruise’s production company.

OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS Earned a degree in English from Notre Dame. Appeared as one of John Travolta’s henchmen in Swordfish (2001), a totally Cruise-free project.