July 25, 2018 08:00 AM

Tom Cruise is back onscreen in Mission: Impossible—Fallout, and more intensely private than ever.

At 56, Tom Cruise has been a movie star for almost four decades — and he loves what he does.

“I’ve wanted to make movies since I was 4 years old,” he tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new cover story. “To be able to entertain an audience, that was my dream.”

Tom Cruise on the latest cover of PEOPLE

But in an age when most celebrities share their lives on Instagram and Snapchat, he has only gotten more intensely private about his personal life — especially following the rabid speculation surrounding his 2012 divorce from Katie Holmes.

“He’s a mysterious figure in many ways,” says Fallout costar Simon Pegg. “People speculate about him and decide the truth about him. He doesn’t really do anything. He steps back from all that.”

In recent years, Cruise has spent most of his time on movie sets, living in hotel rooms — chiefly in London, a city he fell in love with while making Legend in 1984. He has gone on dates, but hasn’t been in a serious relationship for the longest time in his adult life.

Tom Cruise
Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

For much more about Tom Cruise’s life now, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE.

L.A. is no longer his home base: In 2016, Cruise sold his properties there, including his massive Beverly Hills compound, which fetched $39 million.

RELATED VIDEO: Did You Know Tom Cruise Used Coins to Keep His Balance in ‘Mission Impossible’?

He bought a penthouse apartment in Clearwater, Fla, just a block from the Church of Scientology’s international headquarters. A committed member of the controversial church since the ’80s, he’s close friends with its leader, David Miscavige, and family members including his son Connor, 23, have also moved to Clearwater. Cruise is finishing up renovations on the apartment, but he has already spent time there, and locals have spotted him strolling with Scientology staffers. “He’s very relaxed when he’s here,” says a local source.

Tom Cruise filming Mission: Impossible — Fallout
Pierre Suu/GC

He’s also close with daughter Isabella, 25, who lives in London with her husband. As for speculation about his relationship with his youngest daughter, Suri, 12, who lives with Holmes in L.A. And New York City, neither star has discussed the situation publicly. “He loves all his children,” says a source. “And each of them has a right to their own story.”

As always, he’s the most in his element making massive movies.  “I like to learn new things and push the skills I have to the next level,” he says. “I don’t do anything halfway as a person.”

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