Pat Kingsley Finally Talks: Tom Cruise, Scientology and What She's Doing Now

Pat Kingsley
Pat Kingsley
 Austin Hargrave

Hollywood's once-most-feared woman opens up for the first time about being fired by Cruise (and the role Scientology played in their split), why she had to fire her longtime business partner Leslee Dart and her "selfish" life following an unprecedented, astonishing career.

Kingsley sits back in her somewhat spartan living room, and I take in the surroundings.

There's an old-fashioned beige carpet and chintz-covered couch, a glass-and-aluminum table, bookshelves and a couple of black leather chairs; but nothing -- no posters or pictures -- to show she once handled such stars as Cruise, Al Pacino and Will Smith. All that is gone, and there's little hint of the power she once wielded.

But there's much to indicate this person likes order. The chairs are arranged precisely at a right angle to the sofa, without a cushion out of place, and even the books are so carefully aligned that none protrudes an inch from the rest.

It is here that Kingsley spends much of her time. She gets up around 7:30 or 8 a.m., makes breakfast and does a little exercise. Then she switches on CNN ("I want the news, not opinions"), watches that and sports but relatively little entertainment: "I like Bill Maher, I like The Good Wife, I like Downton Abbey -- I can't wait for the new season! But I try not to watch series -- I don't want to get hung up." (She also likes Mad Men but didn't watch Breaking Bad.)

She reads the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times and consumes articles on her beloved iPad. Other than Vanity Fair, there are no magazines she follows regularly, a contrast to her working life. "I read a lot of op-ed pieces, articles from the Washington Post and these long AP pieces that bring me up to speed with certain countries," she says.

She also reads books, but fewer than in the past -- Philip Roth's The Humbling and Chris Matthews' biography of JFK, one of her heroes (along with Adlai Stevenson, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ted Turner). She remembers her shock at Kennedy's death, which left her so upset she went home and didn't emerge for four days.

She has a Facebook page, but only to keep in touch with family; doesn't use Twitter; and seems uninterested in the celebrity culture of today. Indeed, when asked how she might handle Justin Bieber, she mistakes him for Justin Timberlake, then laughs with pleasure when she realizes her error. "My daughter," she exclaims. "I got her tickets to see [Timberlake] last night, and she was so excited!"

She has lunch most days with her son-in-law, who works from an office in this house (his wife, Janis, 45, is a psychologist); occasionally gets together with former colleagues Jennifer Allen, Melissa Kates, Catherine Olim and Heidi Schaeffer; spends one or two afternoons a week with her grandson, Ethan, 10; and loves sports -- she's a fan of the NFL's New England Patriots and tennis great Roger Federer.

She remains fascinated by politics and once thought she might have a career in Washington after helping Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis: "He said he would find a place for me, and I would have gone. But I was still an idealist then. Now I'm a realist." She laughs once again -- something she does often and infectiously. Then she adds that she likes President Obama but "less than I did. I was actually for Hillary. But I'm still a Democrat."

She doesn't see that much of her former clients (Foster and Lily Tomlin are exceptions), nor does she ever go to premieres, which she hated at the best of times. But she says she doesn't get lonely. "I don't even get lonesome," she insists.

It pains her that her health is in decline: last year, she says, she suffered a TIA (a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke) and discovered she has atrial fibrillation. She would love to overcome that but can't, and she's impressively stoic about it: "I am not going to get rid of fibrillation, but I would like to feel better. I am not used to being sick. I am not used to having health problems. But at my age, I don't know what you do about that. It's hard to get better if you're 81."

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