10 Actors Who Were Diagnosed With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a very common learning disability that impacts people’s ability to read. According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia causes “problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).” Although dyslexia has nothing to do with a person’s level of intelligence, the disorder can cause people to struggle in school if they are not given the proper resources. On top of that, the disorder can be difficult to diagnose in some cases. Over the years, several people in the public eye have opened up about their experiences with dyslexia and how the disorder has impacted their lives. Many of these people are some of the most well-known names in the entertainment industry, and their openness has helped many other people who are living with dyslexia. Here are 10 actors who were diagnosed with dyslexia.

1. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is easily one of the most well-known actors of his generation. Over the course of his career, he has won numerous awards and accolades and he has starred in several blockbuster movies. From the outside looking in, lots of people have probably assumed that everything in Tom’s life has been a walk in the park. That, however, isn’t true. In addition to growing up in a poor family with an abusive father, Tom was also diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven. His dyslexia made it difficult for him to follow along with lessons in school. He found himself having to get very creative just to try to keep up with the other kids. Once he decided to become an actor, dyslexia continued to plague him. Reading scripts posed endless challenges and he tried to find ways to hide them. According to Joker Mag, Tom Cruise said, “When I auditioned for parts and was given a script to read cold, 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. I got pretty good at ad-libbing.” He credits the Church of Scientology with helping him overcome his dyslexia.

2. Jennifer Aniston

Like many other people, Jennifer Aniston went through her entire childhood without knowing that she had dyslexia. In fact, she wasn’t diagnosed until she was 20 years old. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Anison revealed, “The only reason I knew [that I had it] was because I went to get a prescription for glasses. I had to wear these Buddy Holly glasses. One had a blue lens and one had a red lens. And I had to read a paragraph, and they gave me a quiz, gave me 10 questions based on what I’d just read, and I think I got three right. Then they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words, and I also had a little bit of a lazy eye, like a crossed eye, which they always have to correct in photos.” For Aniston, who struggled a lot during school, the diagnoses made sense. She went on to say, “I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything. Now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained.”

3. Tom Holland

Best-known for his role as Spider-Man, Tom Holland has become a star all over the world. In real life, however, he hasn’t always felt like a superhero. Tom Holland was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was seven years old. Fortunately, his parents were able to put him in a private school where he was able to get additional help. He hasn’t gone into much detail about his experiences with the disorder, but he has been open about the fact that he has it. During an interview with GQ, Tom Holland explained that he was a little bit stressed because he had to read out loud which can be difficult for people with dyslexia.

4. Orlando Bloom

When Orlando Bloom was a child, his parents started to get concerned when he began having difficulties in school. After the results of an IQ test showed that Orlando was highly intelligent, he was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia. Fortunately, he comes from a very supportive family and his mom made it a point to do everything she could to help him. She always came up with creative ways to keep him motivated to learn. While having dyslexia has presented some challenges in Bloom’s life, he has learned how to live with the disorder.

5. Whoopi Goldberg

As with many of the other people on this list, Whoopi Goldberg’s dyslexia caused her to have a hard time learning in a traditional school environment. Unfortunately, however, she would go through her entire school career without ever being diagnosed. As a result, she eventually decided to drop out. When she was finally diagnosed as an adult, she was able to understand why school had been such a challenge. Whoopi doesn’t just see having dyslexia as a bad thing, though. According to the Child Mind Institute, Goldberg said, “I think perhaps it made me more introspective. Made me more thoughtful, maybe slightly slower in how I do things because it takes me a minute sometimes to figure things out”.

6. Patrick Dempsey

In many instances, dyslexia can be very hard to diagnose. That was the case for Patrick Dempsey who received some incorrect diagnoses before being told that he had dyslexia at age 12. As a result of the disorder, Dempsey became very creative in his approach to acting. He has had to get in the habit of memorizing all of his lines as opposed to using cue cards. Additionally, he usually has someone read scripts out loud to him so he can learn the lines. Even though the disorder has given him more obstacles than the average person, Dempsey also believes that he wouldn’t work as hard as he does has it not been for dyslexia.

7. Jim Carrey

At an early age, Jim Carrey learned that he really enjoyed making people laugh. Not only that, but he was really good at it. What many people didn’t realize, however, is that comedy was also a way for Jim Carrey to overcompensate for the fact that he struggled in school. Since reading was a struggle for him, he also had to rely on his memory to get him through most of his classes. Little did he know, his stellar memory would also come in handy in his career as an actor. It’s unclear exactly when Jim was diagnosed with dyslexia, but it appears that it wasn’t until he reached adulthood.

8. Danny Glover

As someone who was born in the 1940s, Danny Glover was raised at a time where there wasn’t a lot of support for people with learning disabilities. On top of that, many people simply didn’t understand dyslexia. At one point in time, Danny was labeled as having special needs due to his poor performance in school. Despite being made to feel like he wasn’t intelligent, Danny managed to find ways to Danny did not learn that he had the disorder until he was an adult. While talking to Ability Magazine, Glover said, “The whole thing about dyslexia, in a sense, is that it made me feel as if I was in some sort unworthy to learn. I always felt that because I didn’t have an appropriate way of dealing with that, I could not get beyond my feeling of being diminished, I didn’t have an appropriate way of creating some kind of space for myself which was very important.” Like others, Glover has also expressed that being dyslexic has allowed him to gain a helpful perspective.

9. Henry Winkler

Best known for playing Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, one of the smoothest TV characters of all time, Henry Winkler spent years being seen as one of the coolest people in the entertainment industry. What many didn’t realize, however, was that Winkler felt “stupid” more often than he felt cool. For many years, Winkler had difficulty reading and he assumed it had something to do with his intelligence. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with dyslexia at 31 that he began to understand. Since his diagnosis, Winkler has become a big advocate for dyslexia awareness. He even helped write a book series called Hank Zipzer which focuses on a young boy with dyslexia. His work has helped educate countless people on dyslexia. He has also been instrumental in showing that having a learning disability is nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Octavia Spencer

There are lots of people out there who are embarrassed about having dyslexia, but not Octavia Spencer. During her time in the spotlight, she has been very open about the fact that she has dyslexia. Spencer has been quoted saying, “I was a dyslexic child and am a dyslexic adult. That doesn’t really mean that you’re not intelligent—it just means that your brain functions differently”. She is a firm believer that people have the power to overcome their obstacles, and her journey is proof.

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