The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
How Cruise got over his learning disability

New York, July 11 (AFP): Scientology rescued Tom Cruise from life as a “functional illiterate” by providing tools to cope with his dyslexia, the actor tells People magazine in its latest issue.

The Hollywood superstar recalled how he had been labelled dyslexic at the age of seven and tried desperately to hide his learning disability from the other children at school.

“I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read. I would go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb,” he said.

“I graduated high school in 1980 but didn’t even go to my graduation. I was a functional illiterate.”

As he sought to break into an acting career, first in New York and then in Los Angeles, Cruise said he developed strategies for getting through auditions, especially if they required sight reading of a script.

“I’d get the director and producer to talk about the characters and the film. I’d glean information from them and I’d use that,” he said. “I got pretty good at ad-libbing.”

The dyslexia remained a thorn in his side right up until the 1986 film Top Gun that made Cruise a bona fide mega-star. The same year, a friend gave Cruise a picture book on the US Church of Scientology, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard’s learning method of “Study Technology” was a revelation for the actor. “Everything fell into place,” Cruise said.

"Many people had tried to teach me, but no one had taught me how to learn or how to study."

Cruise, 41, is a founding board member of the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project, a non-profit group that uses Hubbard's teaching techniques around the world.

"I don't want people to go through what I went through," the actor said.

Email This Page