How Tom Cruise’s Cameo In ‘Tropic Thunder’ Put Him Back In Hollywood’s Good Graces

Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey in 'Tropic Thunder'
Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey in 'Tropic Thunder'

It’s 2006, and Tom Cruise isn’t on Hollywood’s Christmas shopping. Despite cementing his movie star status with ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies, Paramount Pictures cut ties with this. While promoting ‘War Of The Worlds,’ the actor does an exaggerated couch jump to declare his love for Katie Holmes. 


Tom Cruise was scrutinized when he publically shredded Brooke Shields for using antidepressants. Despite being a great actor, everyone was cutting ties with what they called a PR nightmare. Being on the outs with Hollywood, the 61-year-old decided to do the most dangerous stunt of his career – a comedy. 

Related: Why Was Tom Cruise Reluctant To Return For ‘Top Gun: Maverick’?

Tom Cruise Stars In Ben Stiller’s ‘Tropic Thunder’

Les Grossman in 'Tropic Thunder.'
Les Grossman in ‘Tropic Thunder.’

Ben Still, friends with Tom Cruise, sends him a script to read. Titled ‘Tropic Thunder,’ the ‘Jerry Maguire’ star was impressed with the script. But there was something amiss. The movie star suggested that the film studio must be involved in a film about moviemaking. 


The suggestion led to the birth of a glorious cameo in the film. Tom Cruise played Less Gross, the Diet Coke-chugging, ill-tempered studio executive. The character is said to be a commentary on the people who pull the strings behind movies and movie stars. 

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The ‘Mission: Impossible’ Star Created Les Grossman Especially For The Movie

Les Grossman wan entirely the creation of the 61-year-old actor.
Les Grossman was entirely the creation of the 61-year-old actor.

Ben Still told Esquire that everything about Les Grossman came from Tom Cruise. After making the suggestion, the 61-year-old actor couldn’t get the character out of his mind. He did makeup tests, with someone coincidentally handing him a diet coke. Ben Stiller’s only condition was that the character would look like the ‘Jerry Maguire actor. 


During an interview with BBC Radio 1, Tom Cruise remembered his two essential conditions for Les Grossman. The ‘Mission: Impossible’ star said, “I started reading, I read this character, and I said, “Okay, this is fun. Do you mind, Ben… I wanna play this character. I wanna have fat hands and I wanna dance.”

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