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The Oscars Scientology joke about Tom Cruise wouldn’t have happened if actor was at ceremony

’We were so disappointed when we learnt he wouldn’t be there,’ producer said

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 14 March 2023 15:22 GMT
Jimmy Kimmel cracks jokes about Avatar and Babylon in Oscars opening monologue

Oscar producers have admitted Jimmy Kimmel made a Scientology joke about Tom Cruise as he decided not to attend.

Kimmel hosted the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday (12 March). During his opening monologue he poked fun at Avatar director James Cameron, last year’s Will Smith slap and, in what was deemed a “low blow” by viewers, the poor box office performance of Babylon.

He also alerted the audience to the fact that Cruise, whose Top Gun: Maverick received six nominations, was not in attendance.

According to Entertainment Tonight, this was due to the fact that he was busy shooting Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part II in the UK.

Kimmel addressed Top Gun sequel’s box office success in 2021, calling it “the movie that saved the movies”.

He then made a Scientology quip, stating: “Everyone loved Top Gun – everybody. I mean, Tom Cruise with his shirt off in that beach football scene. L Ron hubba-hubba – you know what I’m saying?”

Cruise is a member of the Church of Scientology, which was founded by L Ron Hubbard in 1953.

When executive producer Molly McNearney, who is Kimmel’s wife, was asked if that joke would have been made if Cruise had been there, she told Variety: “No.”

“We had about a three minute chunk of the monologue dedicated to Tom Cruise, honouring him and his role in reviving the movie industry,” she said, adding: “We were so disappointed when we learn a few days before the Oscars that he wouldn’t be there. Jimmy loves him and really wanted to celebrate him.”

Jimmy Kimmel at the 2023 Oscars (Getty Images)

Top Gun: Maverick won just one Oscar, for Best Sound. Elsewhere, the 2023 ceremony saw big wins for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which took home seven awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh.

Meanwhile, Hugh Grant ruffled feathers before the ceremony had even started with his “rude” answers during a “painful” red carpet interview.

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