Ben Stiller Says Tom Cruise Invented Les Grossman for ‘Tropic Thunder’

February 23, 2022Eric Miller
Les Grossman

Tom Cruise as the foul-mouthed, Diet Coke-loving, hip-hop-dancing studio executive Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. Screenshot via YouTube.

Legendary actor and comedic icon Ben Stiller recently sat down with Esquire for an installment of the magazine’s “Explain This series to discuss everything from his creative process to playing fitness-obsessed assholes and, most importantly, how Tom Cruise brought to life one of the most memorable characters he’s ever portrayed: Tropic Thunder’s hip-hop-dancing, psychopathic studio executive, Les Grossman.

“Tom Cruise had the idea to play Les Grossman in the movie. That part did not exist,” Stiller, who directed and starred in Tropic Thunder, says in the video. “He said, ‘Well, there’s no studio executive, and that would be really fun to be that guy.’ And he had this whole idea of what the guy should look like. It was his idea to dance. And I remember when we did a makeup test, someone handed him a Diet Coke, and then he just started moving.” 

Les Grossman
Although nothing has been confirmed just yet, various sources have hinted at the possibility of a Les Grossman stand-alone film. Screenshot via YouTube.

Stiller’s account tracks with what Cruise told BBC Radio 1 in 2017. Cruise said that, after reading the script, he felt something was missing from the film.

“There was a structural compression missing down on those characters, you know, that keeps the pressure on these guys that really drives the story,” Cruise said. “So [Stiller] came back a few weeks later, and I started reading. And I read this character, and I said, ‘Okay, this is fun. I want to play this character. I want to have fat hands, and I want to dance.”

Stiller’s discussion of the hilarious character has us hopeful that Cruise might someday reprise his role as the fat-handed, Diet Coke-drinking, maniacal executive in a stand-alone Grossman spinoff. 

Read Next: ‘Tropic Thunder’ Mockumentary Is a Must-Watch

Eric Miller
Eric Miller

Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.

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