Prior to landing critically acclaimed roles in such movies as Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room, Giovanni Ribisi was just another young Hollywood actor paying his dues with less-than-stellar projects.

The 24-year-old actor, who stars in the upcoming big-budget pics Gone in Sixty Seconds and The Gift, doesn't mince words when describing cheapo 1995 sci-fi flick The Outpost. "It was horrible," he tells W magazine. "But I was broke, and it was my first film and a chance to go to Bulgaria. It's hard to say that I knew it would get better. But I just knew if I committed myself as much I could physically, mentally and spiritually, I wouldn't have to worry about it."

Ribisi ? who also enjoyed success as recurring character Frank Jr. on Friends ? had equally humble beginnings in TV, playing dorky next-door neighbor Cory Kupkus on the sitcom My Two Dads. At the time, the aspiring actor was only 10 years old. "I have an abhorrence of TV now, but I was so young then; part of me was just like, 'Wow! I can be on TV.' "

The quirky actor attributes his acting success to Scientology, the controversial religion that counts among its ranks Hollywood stars John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Ribisi's close pal Juliette Lewis.

"Without Scientology, I would be in an alley somewhere, looking for dope," he says.