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By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press Writer
NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand – Hollywood star Tom Cruise (news) advised parents on Saturday to work hard to help children having problems at school and not immediately put them on medication.
“Today in America I know they are so quick to put children on drugs because they are not learning well,” Cruise told reporters before the start of shooting of his latest movie, “The Last Samurai,” outside this North Island city.
Cruise, star of films including “Rain Man,” in which his character learns to love an autistic brother, said he went to 15 different schools as he was growing up and had a “very difficult time” with formal learning.
He eventually tackled his learning problems with the help of “study tools” from the Scientology religion “that have helped me to be able to educate myself,” he said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health says medications can often help children with certain learning difficulties, such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome.
Cruise, 40, spoke to the media after a ceremonial greeting from local indigenous Maori, including songs of welcome and the traditional pressing of noses with local tribesmen and women.
He vowed he would not leave New Zealand “without learning more” about the culture and traditions of the Maori.
Cruise said his girlfriend, actress Penelope Cruz (news), and his two children would visit during the four-month shooting of “The Last Samurai,” which begins Monday.
The movie tells the tale of an American military officer hired by the emperor of Japan to build a modern Japanese army in the face of opposition from the traditional Samurai warrior class.
Location director Charlie Harrington said 80 percent of the outdoor filming for the $100 million movie would be done at 10 locations in the region, on the west coast of North Island, some 200 miles northwest of the capital, Wellington.
Tom Cruise was chosen #4 top hot celebrity of 2002 by Entertainment Tonight:
Here is the full list:
1. Jennifer Aniston
2. Jennifer Lopez
3. Ben Affleck
4. Tom Cruise
5. Matthew Perry
6. Brad Pitt
7. Halle Berry, Liza Minnelli (tied)
8. Lisa Kudrow
9. Britney Spears
10. Matt LeBlanc, Michael Jackson, Nicole Kidman (tied)
11. Gwyneth Paltrow
13. Will Smith
14. Tom Hanks, Courteney Cox (tied)
15. David Schwimmer
16. Julia Roberts
17. Sarah Jessica Parker
18. Paul McCartney
19. Cameron Diaz
20. Ozzy Osbourne
07.01.2003 By PAULA OLIVER
When a gleaming private jet carrying Tom Cruise flies into town, you would expect a big crowd.
Except in Taranaki, that is.
Yesterday morning only a lucky few caught a glimpse of the world’s highest paid actor as he stretched his legs on New Plymouth Airport’s tarmac shortly after 9am.
Cruise flew from Honolulu to begin filming the Japanese period epic The Last Samurai.
His arrival in Taranaki had long been the talk of the town, but the exact time he would touch down had been kept secret.
The American star of films such as Top Gun, Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire was greeted by a small but excited group of onlookers – mostly airport staff – as he stepped out of a Gulfstream jet.
“It’s Tom Cruiser, it’s Tom Cruiser,” one small girl shouted.
Dressed in black, Cruise hugged and shook the hands of waiting members of his entourage before spending about 10 minutes standing in the sunshine as Customs and MAF officials carried out checks.
He was accompanied on the plane by a small group, but his children and his partner, Penelope Cruz, did not fly with him.
After enjoying a few stretches, Cruise strolled about 20m across the tarmac to a waiting helicopter, pausing several times to raise his baseball cap and wave to the locals.
One family passing the airport diverted when they spotted Cruise’s twin-engined jet approaching.
They got to the carpark just in time to glimpse the star. A woman in the car said: “It’s our lucky day. I hope he enjoys New Zealand.”
Cruise, clutching his passport, was whisked away in the helicopter.
His numerous bags were plucked from the jet and ferried to his nearby accommodation in a fleet of four-wheel-drive vehicles with tinted windows.
Cruise is renting a mansion in the Kaitake Ranges, not far from Oakura, southwest of New Plymouth. The house has state-of-the-art security and a heli-pad.