Tom Cruise has played some pretty fire roles in his career but none have been quite as transformational as his Tropic Thunder character, Les Grossman. During his Thursday night appearance on Conan O’Brien’s ConanCon (the special Comic-Con edition of Conan, which airs Monday to Thursday at 1:30 a.m. ET on CTV), Cruise revived his iconic character, dance moves and all, reminding us that when he’s not running away from danger, he’s actually pretty funny.
Conan began the interview by recalling a time when he worked with Cruise and he was stunned to realize that the man is not only a hugely talented actor, stuntman and helicopter pilot, he’s also quite the comedian—a skill that most wouldn’t associated with the man.
“I was telling people, ‘Oh my god, Tom Cruise is so great when he does comedy,’ then I remembered, oh wait a minute, you did it in Tropic Thunder,” Conan said, a loud cheer rising from the Comic-Con audience. “You KILLED it in Tropic Thunder as Les Grossman.”
Turns out, Tom Cruise loves comedy, and used to write sketches and do imitations for his family. “Les Grossman was a wild character,” he said with a chuckle.
If you’ve seen Tropic Thunder, you just know. The 2008 film, directed and starring Ben Stiller, also featured Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. as a group of prima donna actors making a Vietnam War film. Cruise plays a hot-headed studio executive, known for his very colourful language, but even more so for THAT dance sequence during the end credits set to Ludacris’ “Get Back.”
After Conan played a snippet of the dance—which features twerking, punching, and a well-timed head isolation—Cruise showed us that he’s still got the moves. He even delivered a couple famous one-liners from the movie.
When talking about his vision for the character—just because it was a comedic role, didn’t mean he wasn’t going to go full Cruise on it—Tom admitted that Stiller (understandably) didn’t quite get it at first. “Ben called me up, and I said ‘look I’d love to play this character, but I want to have fat hands, and I’m gonna dance.'”
It’s a pretty wild choice, but Cruise stuck to his guns and after Stiller saw him in full makeup, he knew it was too brilliant to turn down. And thank god he didn’t.