When Thomas was 21 years old, he was offered two movies simultaneously: Snowbound
, directed by Robert Young, and Pity the Poor Soldier
. Next Tom originated the roll of Oliver Treefe in Simon Gray's world premiere of Molly, at the First Annual Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. After this highly acclaimed performance he returned to NYC to be cast as the lead in, On the Yard
(1978) co-starring John Heard. Tom was offered a 3 picture option deal with Paramount Pictures. After very strong critical notices Tom auditioned for and got the lead in Walter Hill's, The Warriors (1979) playing the character Fox.The Warriors Tom auditioned with Al Pacino, and was cast as Jeff McCullough in the Norman Jewison film, ...And Justice for All (1979). This began a long relationship with Pacino. The two worked together again in Shakespeare's Richard III, playing Richmond, where he received strong notices again. After that, Tom originated the role of Mitchell in Alan Bowne's Forty-Deuce Off-Broadway at the Perry Street Theatre. In 1982, Tom competed with actors such as Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon to land the role of Bobby in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, American Buffalo. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter saw Tom's performance and cast him as Windows in the film The Thing (1982). Tom was cast in the Broadway premier of Trafford Tanzi, a musical where Tom sang with Deborah Harry of Blondie fame. Next was Pastorale, the Obie Award-winning play by Debra Eisenberg starring Judith Ivey and Christine Estabrook, playing the character of Steve. It was during this time that Tom met his namesake and singer Tom Waits, who generously taught Tom the song "Jersey Girl" on the guitar. Out of deference to the musician Tom Waits, this is when Tom added the G. to his professional name to offset any confusion between the two talented artists. Tom Waits even played the bass drum on a demo tape of Thomas G. Waites' music. Tom G. Waites began writing music and formed a band called The Pushups, playing gigs around NYC in clubs such as CBGB's, Limelight, Traxs, The Bitter End and even opening for The Smithereens.