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Tom Cruise Becomes First Actor to Receive Pioneer of the Year Award

A profoundly grateful Tom Cruise received the pioneer of the year award from the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation — the first actor to be so honored.

Cruise was feted Wednesday night on the third day of Cinemacon, the National Association of Theater Owners’ annual convention in Las Vegas. The pioneer of the year award is given to a member of the motion picture community to honor professional leadership, service, and commitment to philanthropy.

“I grew up going to the movies, and I wanted to make movies since I was 4,” Cruise said in his acceptance speech. “I’m very proud to be part of this family. We take care of our own, that’s what families do. I love what I do, and I will cherish this beautiful award.”

Cruise spent most of the 15-minute speech offering thanks. He recalled one of the early instances of that came when Stanley Jaffe and Harold Becker expanded his role in the 1981 drama “Taps.”

“I thought, ‘If I can do this for the rest of my life, I will be so grateful,'” he said.

The dinner event was held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, a few hours after Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie had shown footage and discussed the stunts in the upcoming “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.”

McQuarrie presented Cruise with the award after James Corden had emceed the event, which included a  performance by “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom, Jr.  A career highlight reel generated a standing ovation.

Corden and Cruise teamed on a video takeoff of Cruise’s iconic scenes such as the dance in “Risky Business” and the skyscraper climbing and plane take off stunts in “Mission: Impossible” movies. Corden said the reason why Cruise does his own stunts: “They can’t find a stunt double who’s handsome enough.”

The event raised a CinemaCon record of more than $1.5 million for the benefit of the Pioneers Assistance Fund.

Past pioneer of the year honorees include Dick Cook, Cecil B. DeMille, Michael D. Eisner, Jim Gianopulos, Alan Horn, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Donna Langley, Sherry Lansing, Frank G. Mancuso, Sumner Redstone, Terry Semel, Tom Sherak, Jack Valenti, Jack Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, and last year’s honoree, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

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