Cruise Calls Travolta Tragedy 'Horrific,' Defends Scientology

Actor, fellow Scientologist makes first statement on Jett Travolta's death.

ByABC News
January 2, 2009, 5:51 PM

Jan. 8, 2009— -- Nearly a week after the death of John Travolta and Kelly Preston's 16-year-old son, Jett, Tom Cruise is weighing in on the tragedy.

"It's horrific," a visibly shaken Cruise said in an interview scheduled to air Friday on ABC's "The View." "It's just horrific. Here you have a man, both of them doting parents, they're wonderful people and ..."

Cruise trailed off before commenting on the speculation that Scientology, the religion to which he and the Travoltas adhere, discourages followers from seeking medical care.

Tune into "The View" Friday for the full interview with Tom Cruise, 11 a.m. ET on ABC

"That's just not true. It's actually false," Cruise said. "They say, 'Get your physical, get your medication, get your physical illnesses handled.'"

In a statement to ABC News earlier this week, the Church of Scientology responded to critics who claim it does not promote medical treatment.

"Scientologists seek conventional medical treatment for medical conditions," the church said in a statement. "Scientologists use prescription drugs when physically ill and also rely on the advice and treatment of medical doctors. The Church does not involve itself in the diagnosis or classification of any medical condition."

Cruise went on to share his memories of Jett.

"I remember Jett when he was born," Cruise said. "I saw him when he was just a few months old and John just adored him, and both of his children, and Kelly."

"I just don't have the words for it," Cruise concluded, referring to Jett's death.

Cruise visited "The View" the same day Travolta and Preston were scheduled to bid final farewell to Jett. A private funeral service is scheduled to take place in the family's hometown of Ocala, Fla., this afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

Travolta's biographer told ABC News that Jett was the one subject Travolta rarely discussed.

"It was taboo, in the sense of not going into detail about his condition. It was one of these subjects that he didn't want to go into. And I had to respect that," said Douglas Thompson, who has known the actor for more than three decades.

That condition has been described by Travolta and Preston as Kawasaki syndrome, a rare disease the Travoltas say Jett developed at a young age. Jett Travolta died last week, the result of an apparent seizure, according to an autopsy report.

Thompson speculated Travolta will draw on support from Scientology, the religion that has seen he and his family through tragedies in the past, as well as Ocala residents.