Feature

How Maguire escaped poverty

Born to teenage parents, the actor grew up in poverty in California, relying on food stamps, public assistance, and charity.

Tobey Maguire is a self-made man, said Emma Brockes in The Guardian (U.K.). Born to teenage parents, the actor grew up in poverty in California, relying on food stamps, public assistance, and charity. “We would get groceries from neighbors,” says Maguire, 37. “I always had a roof over my head, but I slept on couches of relatives, and some nights we wandered into a shelter.” The whole experience made him doubt the American dream. “The idea is that equal opportunity and social mobility in this country are easy as pie.” But when you must struggle just to survive, he says, it’s difficult to dream of a better life. “Your brain space [is] occupied by worrying about what I’m going to eat or how I’m going to pay rent.” Despite that cynicism, Maguire did create a better life in the unlikely field of acting; he attributes his success to a combination of drive and luck. “I’m self-aware enough to understand that it’s statistically very hard to achieve the position I’m in. But I also think I have a lot of ingredients that are right for the path I’ve chosen. I like to be productive. I find the way, like water. Since I was 17 or 18, I knew I wanted to live a great version of my life. Those ideas have been [my] north stars.”

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