Leah Remini Says Scientology Cost Her a Total of $5M

Other revelations from Remini's anti-Scientology memoir 'Troublemaker': Tom Cruise is “a big kid" who loves to play hide-and-seek with his adult friends.
Courtesy of Random House

Troublemaker, the new memoir by actress Leah Remini (King of Queens) has gotten a wave of publicity for its intimate look at her life as a Scientologist and her break with the church.

The book offers an intimate look at the controversial religion and life in Hollywood. Here’s four surprising revelations in the book:

1. Remini estimates she spent about $5 million in total in order to be a Scientologist. 

Over the years she says she spent about $2 million for services and training courses and made another $3 million in donations. Among her expenses was $40,000 to compensate Scientology for sandwiches and snacks she stole as a teenager over a few months in the mid-1980s and $5,000 for Scientology-approved marriage counseling to help her then-boyfriend Angelo Pagan to reconcile with his first wife (not her).

About the snacks: Remini was a member of the Sea Org (see No. 3) as a teenager. According to the book, she was only paid about $15 a week and the food was terrible (rice and beans day and night or "liquid eggs"). But she was in charge of processing food charges at the Scientology-owned hotel that housed people taking courses at the church so she would charge a sandwich or a snack under a false account name and then when the bill came to her she would "take them to my room, burn them and flush the ashes down the toilet" to hide the evidence. She pulled that scam for about three months and no one was ever the wiser. Years later, when Remini confessed the crimes to a church official during an auditing session, she says the church charged her $40,000 to make up for it.

2. Tom Cruise comes across as a big kid — a big kid who no one has ever said no to.

Remini’s account of Cruise’s relationship with Katie Holmes has gotten the most attention but other details about the star are equally revealing. She calls Cruise “a big kid with his loud laugh, high energy and goofy ideas of fun.” For example, one time he invited Remini, Jada Pinkett Smith and others over to his house to play hide-and-seek. When Remini said she couldn’t play in high heels, he tagged her “it” and ran off to hide. 

But Cruise could also be mercurial. One time Remini witnessed him berating an assistant for messing up his plan to bake homemade cookies (the staff left prepared dough in the kitchen but Cruise didn’t see it and they were too afraid to correct him). He told her, "LRH [Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard] is here," holding his hand over his head; “Dave [Miscavige] and I are here,” placing his hand at chin level, and then with his hand down at his waist he said, “you are here.” Another time he accused an assistant of treating him like a DB (degraded being) for serving him tea in a chipped mug.

3. 13-year-old Remini signed a billion-year contract to join Scientology’s elite Sea Org and then was forced out because she admitted to "heavy petting" with her boyfriend. 

Leah and older sister Nicole (by two years) joined the Sea Org at their mother’s insistence soon after they moved to Clearwater, Florida. The girls, who were about 13 and 15 at the time, worked 12-hour days doing chores and serving Scientologists who were taking courses at Flag (Scientology’s name for the Clearwater compound) for about $15 a week in wages. But when a fellow Sea Org member filed a “knowledge report” saying she had let her boyfriend engage in “heavy petting” by touching her breasts over her shirt, she was threatened with being sent to Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), a sort of punishing rehabilitation where errant scientologists were forced to dress in all black, complete awful tasks (like cleaning dumpsters) and run everywhere. Only strong-arming from her mother saved her from RPF, but Remini quit Sea Org and the family had to leave Clearwater. 

4. Nicole Kidman was her “guardian angel” when she quit Scientology.

Even though she didn’t know Kidman personally, she thought, “Remember Nicole Kidman, she was declared an SP and left the church, and she’s doing okay. Her career is still going and she has a husband and family ... Just remember Nicole Kidman. She left and she’s okay.”

She also got support from other prominent ex-Scientologists in Hollywood. Paul Haggis sent her a letter of support pledging to “do anything for you ... publicly or privately.” She also heard from Jason Beghe and got support from longtime friend Jennifer Lopez.

For its part, Scientology released a long statement in response to Remini's book, calling it a "revisionist history." The statement can be read in full here.