cruise jlo 07june10 07

The 2010 MTV Music Awards wasn’t your typical awards show…

That’s because it was sort of hosted by Tom Cruise.

Well… kinda.

Technically, Aziz Ansari hosted the 2010 MTV Movie Awards but if you remember the advertisements and the show itself, you know that Les Grossman was the real host that night. I’m not even sure if Tom Cruise was there that night because he embodied this character in the same way he embodied him in August of 2008 when Tropic Thunder was released. Les Grossman was one of the highlights of that hilarious film. I personally think Tropic Thunder is one of the smartest, funniest, and flat-out fun comedies I have seen in the past decade. In a film where Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian actor who surgically becomes the black Sargeant Lincoln Osiris because he is that dedicated to the role (he doesn’t drop character until he has done the DVD commentary) it would have been tough for another performance to stand out.

But there was another performance in that film that stood out. Big time.

Tom Cruise played the greedy studio executive Les Grossman in such a brilliant way and under so much prosthetic makeup that a ton of people didn’t even realize it was him until the ending credits. This is what I love about Tom Cruise as an actor. As an artist. As a performer. He gives 100% every film. Say what you will about his films, his performances, his off-screen behavior you cannot deny the fact that this man gives everything to the craft of acting and for the history of film.

Legend has it that it was Tom Cruise’s idea for Les Grossman and that once the character was established, Cruise couldn’t get the script out of his mind. So he called Ben Stiller to play the role of Les. Not only was it his idea for the role, but he wanted Les to have GIANT hands. When the film finally came out people were left talking about the brilliant comedic turn that Cruise gave in the film. Praise for his performance was everywhere and there were even discussions from the studio to make a Les Grossman spin-off film.

But there was a performance 2 years later that would be overlooked. That most do not remember, talk about, and is very hard to find clips of it online for (I searched on YouTube for a bit and could only find a clip or two).

That performance was when it was announced Les Grossman would be at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards. Not Tom Cruise, but Les Grossman. (seriously I remember all the advertisements featuring Cruise as Grossman and the opening number was Cruise as Grossman). As hilarious as Aziz Ansari is it seemed as Grossman was the true host of the night.

Think about that for a second. At the time the MTV Movie Awards was one of the biggest pop culture staples of the summer. The biggest stars attend to receive awards as voted on by the fans and to promote their new films. The past hosts have been anyone from Lindsay Lohan, to Justin Timberlake/Sean William Scott, to Jimmy Fallon and I am leaving out the mega stars that hosted when the first MTV Movie Awards were broadcast. But in 2010 they give the stage to a supporting character in a film released in 2008. That is fascinating.

Grossman did not disappoint. I wasn’t able to find the footage online but I remember vividly during the opening sketch, that Les is training the new karate kid (Jaden Smith) with father Will Smith looking on. Les proceeds to teach the student to finally get him in an arm hold, and Les says, again maybe this isn’t the exact quote but along the lines of, “FINISH IT!” Will nods is head. Young Jaden breaks Les’ arm! It was this kind of opening that proved that Tom Cruise would not be making an appearance tonight, instead, giving 100 percent in to the role just like he always does, it was the night of Les.

Not once did he break character. He was not only heavily involved in the marketing of the event (ads included his interactions with celebrities such as Robert Pattinson) but in the performances as well. He got on stage to do his famous Tropic Thunder dance, then shortly after joined by Jennifer Lopez for a dance routine for her song “Get Right”. He even showed up on the big video screen to yell at the guys from the Hangover singing “Stu’s Song”. He was everywhere and was the highlight of the entire evening.

I don’t remember any of the awards handed out that night. I do not remember who else presented or performed. Hell, I didn’t even realize until writing this that Aziz was the “host” of the awards. That’s because Tom Cruise did what he has done his entire career… GAVE 100% EFFORT AND DEDICATION TO THE ROLE FOR THE AUDIENCE. 

I respect that so much about Tom Cruise. He gives so much to the art form that is filmmaking. He loves making movies and loves his fans. You see that with every single film he makes. This night at the MTV Movie Awards was no different. He treated this night as he would the next installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise. That is something to celebrate and admire.

I hope more people remember the 2010 MTV Movie Awards but maybe this is the way Les would want it. The legend lives on with people like myself who can say “I was there! I saw Les, did you see what he did, let me tell you about!”. With the spin-off film off the table we may never see another Les Grossman performance. Ever. So, it’s important, almost necessary, for people who have had the pleasure of seeing the brilliance that is Les Grossman, to shout it from the rooftops. Thank you Les, for the incredible & memorable performances, I truly remember them and the 2010 MTV Movie Awards was one of my favorites because of you!

…and thank you Tom Cruise. For the impact you have made on film. Tell Les I said hello.

Written & Published by Justin Burden