Considering that it was both a reasonable box office success — it took in close to $200 million worldwide — and fairly warmly received (even picking up an Oscar nomination for Robert Downey Jr), it’s surprising the extent to which the 2008 all-star comedy “Tropic Thunder” has slipped from memory — we enjoyed it, but it’s certainly not a film we find ourselves ever rewatching. But there’s one aspect of the film that backers at Paramount are certainly keen to keep alive: Les Grossman, the vulgar, hirsute studio executive played by Tom Cruise in an against-type, near-career-reviving cameo in Ben Stiller‘s film.
The character played a central role in last year’s MTV Movie Awards, appearing in a number of promos for the show, and shortly afterwards, Paramount announced that a spin-off focusing on the character was in development, with “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” writer Michael Bacall penning the script. Word’s been quiet since, but MTV caught up with Bill Hader, who played Grossman’s assistant Rob Slolom in “Tropic Thunder,” and he suggested that the film’s creeping forward a little.
Hader confirms that Bacall’s completed a draft on the script, and that, while he hasn’t read it yet, the writer’s “told me some really funny scenes from it. I just know the broad strokes. Michael just telling me, ‘I just wrote this scene where blah, blah, blah and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s funny, man!’. It’s gonna be great.” While we might question the wisdom of stretching the character out across two hours, Hader certainly knows his funny, and his approval suggests that the film’s heading in the right direction.
The bigger question is when, and indeed if, the film will happen. Cruise is about to start work on the musical “Rock of Ages,” and has reportedly been circling the sci-fi actioner “Horizons,” from “Tron: Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski, although that project’s been looking for a new home for a few weeks since Disney put it into turnaround. Furthermore, the buzz on Brad Bird‘s “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is extremely strong, and it could well be the kind of knock-it-out-of-the-park career comeback that Cruise has been searching for in the last half-decade or so. Is a broad, R-rated, self-deprecating comedy the kind of career move he still wants to make? We imagine we’ll find out in the coming months.