Scientology's Seduction of Tom Cruise, Role in Nicole Kidman Split Detailed

Seduction of Tom Cruise Illustration – H 2013
Gary Musgrave

Seduction of Tom Cruise Illustration – H 2013

THR's exclusive excerpt from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright 's new book reveals how the church came between Cruise and Kidman, leader David Miscavige's intense courtship of the star, Bill Clinton's advice to the actor on how to lobby Tony Blair, and how Cruise once told Miscavige, "If f--ing Arnold can be governor, I could be President."

This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The past year hasn’t been kind to the Church of Scientology. Katie Holmes divorced Tom Cruise. A Vanity Fair cover story that revealed the Scientology-run “audition” process to be Cruise’s wife included an interview with one of Cruise’s original candidates who was forced, she claims, to scrub toilets with a toothbrush as punishment. Meanwhile, Scientologist John Travolta was hit with several lawsuits (albeit unrelated to the Church) that spawned endless Internet speculation. Behind those sensational headlines, details of an organization whose secrecy long has been guarded began to seep out with detractors using the Internet to expose the Church’s sacred documents and allege wrongdoing. Now, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright, who profiled ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis for The New Yorker in 2011, delves fullon into the history and inner workings of the Church of Scientology in his book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

Despite bad publicity and questions about its size — one survey puts U.S. membership at 25,000 (the Church claims 8 million worldwide), with the largest concentration in L.A. — Scientology continues to survive, with ex-members claiming it has assets of about $1 billion. As many as 5,000 people belong to the Sea Org, its elite clergy. Adherents are drawn to Scientology’s emphasis on self-improvement, though the Church’s theology and practices remain unknown to the public. (Since 1993, the IRS has classified Scientology as a tax-exempt religion.) Wright’s account, which is detailed through Church documents, court records and hundreds of interviews, including many with ex-members, is disputed by Scientology, which declined to give interviews for the book. 

Karin Pouw, a representative for Scientology tells THR that, “The one thing ‘clear’ about Lawrence Wright’s book is that he continues to carry water for a handful of angry, bitter individuals ... [who] regurgitate six decades of false, bizarre tabloid allegations about the religion’s founder, its leadership and its prominent members.” Far from being in decline, she says Scientology opened 30 new churches in 2012. (Read Pouw's complete response here.)

Wright argues that the Church’s mystique rests mainly on its celebrity members. Early on, founder L. Ron Hubbard recruited Hollywood notables like Gloria Swanson. David Miscavige, who has headed the Church since Hubbard’s death in 1986, followed this strategy by cultivating Cruise, who has become the public face of the Church and one of its largest donors. Cruise, now 50, became a Scientologist in 1986 and the biggest celebrity to join the Church since Travolta. Cruise admired Miscavige’s confidence and bravado. Miscavige, in turn, was seduced by Cruise’s celebrity and opulent lifestyle. But by the mid-’90s, Cruise and wife Nicole Kidman drifted away from the Church, which frantically scrambled to win him back. In this exclusive excerpt, Wright details the relationship between Cruise and Miscavige, the star’s renewed commitment to Scientology following his divorce from Kidman and his emergence as possibly the second most- powerful figure in the Church. — Andy Lewis

For five days in October 1998, Tom Cruise, one of the biggest movie stars in the world, secretly drove into a private parking lot in the back of the historic Guaranty Building on Hollywood Boulevard, with the yellow Scientology sign atop. Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino used to have their offices here -- now the lobby is a shrine to the life and works of L. Ron Hubbard. A giant bust of the founder greets the occasional visitor.

Cruise went in a back door that led to a basement hallway and went directly to the "secret" 11th floor, where senior Church officials like David Miscavige and Marty Rathbun maintained offices. "He was not in good shape, spiritually or mentally," Rathbun observed. "He was personally very enturbulated," Scientology terminology for agitated.(1)

Rathbun, then the Inspector General at the Religious Technology Center, which oversees the Church's spiritual materials, had gone to Los Angeles to meet Cruise for auditing, the Church's system of religious counseling. (Rathbun is no longer connected to Scientology and is now one of its most outspoken critics. The Church has dismissed his accounts and refers to him as part of a "posse of lunatics.")

Cruise, the Church's most visible adherent, had been drifting away. According to Rathbun, Miscavige -- Scientology's de facto head since Hubbard's death -- blamed the actor's wife, Nicole Kidman, and viewed her as a gold digger who was faking Scientology. He says that Miscavige was hopeful that if they portrayed Nicole Kidman as a Suppressive Person, Cruise could be peeled away from her.(2)

After that episode of auditing, Cruise went quiet again. He and Kidman were in England filming Eyes Wide Shut for Stanley Kubrick. Suddenly, in January 2001, Rathbun said he got a call from the actor asking for help. Cruise said that he and Kidman were finished. Cruise never offered a public explanation for the divorce, and Kidman herself was clearly surprised by his decision.

This was a decisive moment in Cruise's relationship with Scientology. Rathbun provided the star with more than 200 hours of auditing over the next couple of years. From July through Thanksgiving 2001, Rathbun was with Cruise at the Celebrity Centre frequently, doing auditing rundowns. He paired Cruise with another actor, Jason Beghe, to do training drills; for instance, Beghe would think of a hypothetical date, which Cruise had to figure out using the E-Meter, a Scientology device that measures a body's electrical resistance by gripping two metal rods, a guessing exercise Cruise found really frustrating. (Cruise's attorney says, "Cruise may have had a chance encounter with Beghe at the Celebrity Centre but had no such meeting with him.")(3)

First footnote: Interview with Mark "Marty" Rathbun.

Second footnote: Interview with Mark "Marty Rathbun.

Third footnote: Interview with Jason Beghe.

At the same time, 29-year-old Tommy Davis began acting as Rathbun's assistant. He brought sandwiches and helped out with Conor and Isabella, Cruise's two children with Kidman, making sure they were receiving Church services. Despite his youth, Davis was already a unique figure in the Church: He was a second-generation Scientologist, a member of the Sea Org, an elite group of about 3,000 that functions in effect as the Church's clergy, and a scion of the Hollywood elite.

His mother was Anne Archer, a popular actress who had been nominated for an Academy Award for Fatal Attraction. She had always been proud to associate herself with Scientology in public, speaking at innumerable events on behalf of the Church, and her son Tommy embodied the aspiration of the Church to establish itself in the Hollywood community. He had known Cruise since he was 18 years old, so it was natural that he soon became the Church's liaison with the star. Rathbun assigned Davis to sit with Cruise in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Hollywood while the star was doing his Tone Scale drills -- guessing the emotional state of random people coming out of the store.(4)

Rathbun was opposed to the endless courtship of Cruise. In his opinion, there was no need for it once Cruise was securely back in the Church's fold. He told Miscavige, "I think I'm done with this guy." Miscavige responded, "He'll be done when he calls me." Rathbun believes the leader was galled by the fact that Cruise had never contacted him when he came back for counseling.(5)

During the actor's early years in the Church, Cruise and Miscavige, who are two years apart in age (Cruise was born in 1962, Miscavige in 1960), had been exceptionally close, drawn together by a similar meteoric rise to success. They were both short but powerfully built, "East Coast personalities," said Sinar Parman, Miscavige's then-private chef. They shared a love of motorcycles, cars and adventurous sports. Cruise had been a movie star since he was 21, with two popular movies in the same year, The Outsiders and Risky Business. By age 25, he was the biggest star in Hollywood, on his way to becoming a true movie legend. At the same age, Miscavige rose to his position atop Scientology. Each of these men assumed extraordinary responsibilities when their peers were barely beginning their careers, so it was natural that they would see themselves mirrored in each other.(6)

Miscavige got involved in Scientology through his parents, who joined a Church near their Cherry Hill, N.J., home in the early 1970s and moved to its then-headquarters in Saint Hill, England, in 1972, where at the age of 12 David became one of the youngest auditors in the history of the Church -- the "Wonder Kid," he was called.(7)

On his 16th birthday in 1976, he dropped out of 10th grade and formally joined the Sea Org, whose members dress in military-style uniforms -- a remnant of its original purpose as Hubbard's private navy. Less than a year later, he was transferred to the Commodore's Messengers in California, an even more elite inner circle that enforced religious doctrine and served as Hubbard's personal assistants. Here he continued to capture the attention of the Church hierarchy with his energy and commitment, renovating one of Hubbard's houses and ridding it of fiberglass (which the founder said he was allergic to). Miscavige filled a spot in the founder's plans that once might have been occupied by his troubled son Quentin Hubbard, who died in 1976 at age 22, although Miscavige displayed a passion and focus that Quentin never really possessed. Miscavige was tough, tireless and doctrinaire.(8)

He was just 19 when Hubbard promoted him to Action Chief, the person in charge of making sure that the founder's directives were strictly and remorselessly carried out, and then at 23 to head of Special Project Ops, running missions around the world to fix sensitive problems that local Scientologists themselves could not handle.(9)

[After Hubbard died of complications from a stroke in January 1986, Miscavige consolidated power by becoming Chairman of the Board (COB) of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), which controlled the Church's intellectual property, and forcing out Hubbard's designated successors. By April 1988, he was essentially running Scientology, nominally reporting to a figurehead board, but in reality controlling the levers of power.]

When it came to Cruise, Miscavige was bedazzled by the glamour surrounding the star, who introduced him to a social set outside of Scientology, a world Miscavige knew little about, having spent most of his life cloistered in the Sea Org. He was thrilled when he visited Cruise on the set of Days of Thunder, and the actor took him skydiving for the first time. Cruise, for his part, fell under the spell of Miscavige's commanding personality. He modeled his determined naval-officer hero in 1992's A Few Good Men on Miscavige, a fact that the Church leader liked to brag about.(10)

In the early '90s, Miscavige surrounded Cruise and Kidman with a completely deferential environment as spotless and odorless as a fairy tale at Gold Base, Scientology's desert outpost near Hemet, Calif. Miscavige heard about the couple's fantasy of running through a field of wildflowers together, so he had Sea Org members plant a section of the desert with them; when that failed to meet his expectations, the meadow was plowed and sodded with grass. When a flood triggered a mudslide that despoiled a romantic bungalow specially constructed for the couple, Miscavige held the entire base responsible and ordered everyone to work 16-hour days until everything was restored.

Miscavige showed his instinctive understanding of how to cater to the sense of entitlement that comes with stardom. It was not just a matter of disposing of awkward personal problems, such as clinging spouses; there were also the endless demands for nourishment of an ego that is always aware of the fragility of success; the longing for privacy that is constantly at war with the demand for recognition; the need to be fortified against ordinariness and feelings of mortality; and the sense that the quality of the material world that surrounds you reflects upon your own value, and therefore everything must be made perfect. These were qualities Miscavige demanded for himself as well.(11)

Fourth footnote: Interview with Jason Beghe. Interview with Tommy Davis.

Fifth footnote: Interview with Mark "Marty" Rathbun. Interview with Tom De Vocht.

Sixth footnote: Sinar Parman, personal communication.

Seventh footnote: Interview with Karen de la Carriere.

Eighth footnote: Deposition of David Miscavige Larry Wollersheim vs. David Miscavige and Church of Scientology California, Oct. 30, 1999; Deposition of David Miscavige, Bent Corydon vs. Church of Scientology, July 19, 1990.

Ninth footnote: Deposition of David Miscavige, Bent Corydon vs. Church of Scientology, July 19, 1990.

Tenth footnote: Interview with Mark "Marty" Rathbun.

11th footnote: Affidavit of Andre Tabayoyon, Aug. 19, 1999. Interviews with Marc Headley. Interview with Amy Scobee. Karen Pressley interview on One Day One Destiny, a French documentary produced by Magneto Presse, 2009.

Miscavige also cultivated Cruise to be a spiritual leader, not just a follower, having him trained as an auditor at Gold Base. Sixteen-year-old Sea Org member Marc Headley says he was among the first people audited by Cruise. He reported to a large conference room and right away noticed Kidman, who was also receiving auditing, and Kirstie Alley, whom he later came to believe was there mainly as a "celebrity prop," since she did little other than read.

"Hello, I am Tom," Headley remembers Cruise saying, vigorously shaking his hand. (Cruise, through his attorney, says he has no recollection of meeting Headley.) The actor handed Headley the metal cans that were attached to the E-Meter and asked if the temperature in the room was all right. Then he instructed Headley to take a deep breath and let it out. This was a metabolism test, which is supposed to show whether the subject was prepared for the session. Apparently, the needle on the E-Meter didn't fall sufficiently. Headley was so starstruck that he was having trouble focusing.

"Did you get enough sleep?" Cruise asked.


"Did you get enough to eat?"


"Did you take your vitamins?"

Headley said he never took vitamins.

"That might be the problem," Cruise said. He went into the pantry, which was filled with snacks for the celebrities. Headley was used to the meager Sea Org fare, and he was taken aback by the cornucopia laid out. The actor found several vitamins and then asked, "Do you take a lot of bee pollen?"

Headley had no idea what he meant.

"Never had bee pollen?" Cruise said excitedly. "Oh, that will do the trick for sure."

He led Headley to his Yamaha motorcycle and rode the two of them to the base canteen. It was dinnertime, and the canteen was filled with Headley's gawking co-workers. Headley was surprised to learn that there was bee pollen for sale, though he says Cruise didn't pay for it; he just grabbed it, and they went back to the conference room. This time, Headley passed the metabolism test, though he privately credited a Danish he ate over the bee pollen.

According to Headley, Cruise helped him through the Upper Indoctrination Training Routines. "Look at the wall," Cruise would have said, according to Hubbard's specifications. "Thank you. Walk over to the wall. Thank you. Touch the wall. Thank you." The purpose of this exercise, according to Hubbard, is to "assert control over the preclear and increase the preclear's havingness." ("Clear" is the state novice Scientologists aspire to that signals their subconscious, or "reactive," mind is free.)

Cruise went on to ask Headley to make an object -- such as a desk -- hold still or become more solid. Another exercise involved telling an ashtray to stand up, at which point the novice stands and lifts the ashtray, thanks the ashtray and then commands the ashtray to sit down. With each repetition, the commands get louder, so soon he is yelling at the ashtray at the top of his voice. The purpose is to come to the realization that your intention is separate from your words and the sound waves that carry them. These procedures went on for hours as Headley robotically responded to Cruise's commands. "You learn that if you don't do what they say, they'll just ask the same questions 5 million times," Headley recalled.(12)

12th footnote: Headley, Blown for Good, pp. 116-18. Hubbard, “Training and CCH Processes,” HCO Bulletin, June 11, 1957, reissued May 12, 1972

After becoming associated with Cruise, the style of Miscavige's life came to reflect that of a fantastically wealthy and leisured movie star. He normally awakens at noon, with a cup of coffee and a Camel cigarette. Then he takes breakfast, the first of his five meals.(13)

According to Parman, the chef, he was eating "three squares and a snack at night" until the late-'90s, when he said he wanted to "get ripped and have six-pack abs" like bodybuilders featured in magazines. At the time, Miscavige changed physical trainers, began taking bodybuilding supplements and adopted a diet that requires each meal to be at least 40 percent protein and to contain no more than 400 calories. Soon, he was looking like the men in the magazines.

To maintain Miscavige's physique, chefs have to enter each portion size into a computer. Miscavige often starts the day with an omelet of one whole egg and five egg whites. Two-and-a-half hours later, lunch is provided. Two choices would be prepared daily, for both him and his wife. Dinner is a five-course meal, and once again, dual entrees are prepared for him to choose from. Miscavige's favorite foods include wild mushroom risotto, linguine in white clam sauce and pate de foie gras. Several times a week, a truck from Santa Monica Seafood delivers Atlantic salmon or live lobster. Corn-fed lamb is flown in from New Zealand.

When guests such as Cruise come to dinner at his well-appointed house, the kitchen goes into extravagant bursts of invention, with ingredients sometimes flown in from different continents. Two hours after dinner, the first evening snack arrives, with lighter offerings such as Italian white bean soup or clam chowder. After midnight, there is a final late-night snack -- a selection of nonfat cheeses, an apple crisp or blueberry crepes, often garnished with edible flowers. Two full-time chefs work all day preparing these meals, with several full-time stewards to serve them. According to Headley's wife, Claire, who oversaw the finances for the Religious Technology Center between 2000 and 2004, the food costs for the Miscaviges and their guests would range between $3,000 to as much as $20,000 a week.(14)

At the end of the evening, Miscavige retires to his den and drinks Macallan scotch and plays backgammon with members of his entourage or listens to music on his $150,000 stereo system (he loves Michael Jackson) or watches movies in his private screening room (his favorite films are Scarface and The Godfather trilogy). He usually turns in around three or four in the morning.(15)

He collects guns, maintains at least six motorcycles and has a number of automobiles, including an armor-plated GMC Safari van with bulletproof windows and satellite television and a souped-up Saleen Mustang that Cruise gave him to match his own. Until 2007, when he traveled, Miscavige would often rent Cruise's Gulfstream jet, but he has since upgraded to renting a roomier Boeing business jet, at a cost of $30,000 to $50,000 a trip. His uniforms and business suits are fashioned by Richard Lim, a Los Angeles tailor whose clients include Cruise, Will Smith and Martin Sheen. Miscavige's shoes are custom-made in London by John Lobb, bootmaker to the royal family. His wardrobe fills an entire room, and two full-time stewards are responsible for his cleaning and laundry. Cruise admired the housecleaning so much -- even Miscavige's light bulbs are polished once a month -- that the Church leader sent a Sea Org team to Cruise's Telluride retreat to train the star's staff.(16)

Miscavige keeps a number of dogs, including five beagles. He had blue vests made up for each of them, with four stripes on the shoulder epaulets, indicating the rank of Sea Org Captain. He insists that people salute the dogs as they parade by. The dogs have a treadmill where they work out. A full-time staff member feeds, walks and trains the dogs and enters one of them, Jelly, into contests, where he has attained championship status.(17)

13th footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 290.

14th footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 290. Interviews with Tom De Vochit and Mark “Marty” Rathbun. Information about David Miscavige’s diet comes from his former chefs, Sinar Parman and Lana Mitchell.

15th footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 319. Interview with Mark “Marty” Rathbun. Interview with Tom De Vocht. Lana Mitchell, “Hot and cold Running Servants,” June 27, 2011, Sinar Parman says that when Miscavige is in Clearwater, he generally rises at 9 a.m.

16th footnote: Interviews with Mike Rinder, Janela Webster, John Brousseau and Noriyuki Matsumaru. John Brousseau, personal correspondence. Lana Mitchell, “Hot and Cold Running Servants.”

17th footnote: Interviews with Marc Headley, Claire Headley and John Brousseau.

One of Miscavige's favorites, a Dalmatian/pit bull mix named Buster, went on a rampage one day and killed 10 peacocks on the property, and then the dog proudly laid out his kill for all to see. Buster also attacked various members of the staff -- sending one elderly woman to the emergency room -- before being transferred to another base, causing staffers to joke he had been sent to the dog equivalent of Scientology rehabilitation.(18)

The contrast with the other Sea Org members is stark. They eat in a mess hall, which features a meat-and-potatoes diet and a salad bar, except for occasional extended periods of rice and beans. The average cost per meal as of 2005 (according to Headley, who participated in the financial planning each week) was about 75 cents a head -- significantly less than what is spent per inmate in the California prison system.

When members join the Sea Org, they are issued two sets of pants, two shirts and a pair of shoes, which is their lifetime clothing allotment; anything else, they purchase themselves. Although the nominal pay for Sea Org members is $50 a week, many are fined for various infractions, so it's not unusual to be paid as little as $13 or $14.(19)

There are lavish exercise facilities at the base -- an Olympic-size pool, a golf course, basketball courts -- but they are rarely used. Few are permitted to have access to computers. Every personal phone call is listened to; every letter is inspected. Cultural touchstones common to most Americans are often lost on Sea Org members at Gold Base. They may not know the name of the president of the United States or be able to tell the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. It's not as if there is no access to outside information; there is a big-screen television in the dining hall, and people can listen to the radio or subscribe to newspapers and magazines; however, news from the outside world begins to lose its relevance when people are outside of the wider society for extended periods of time. Many Sea Org members have not left the base for a decade.(20)

Cruise's renwed dedication to Scientology following his divorce from Kidman permanently changed the relationship between the Church and the Hollywood celebrity community. Miscavige and Cruise became closer than ever. The Church leader flew with Cruise in the Warner Bros. jet to a test screening of The Last Samurai in Arizona. In July 2004, Miscavige hosted a 42nd birthday party for Cruise aboard the Scientology cruise ship Freewinds. Musicians (including Miscavige's father) played songs from the actor's movies as clips played on giant screens. Cruise himself danced and sang "Old Time Rock and Roll," reprising his famous scene from Risky Business.(21)

Cruise later said of Miscavige: "I have never met a more competent, a more intelligent, a more compassionate being outside of what I have experienced from [studying L. Ron Hubbard]. And I've met the leaders of leaders. I've met them all."(22)

18th footnote: Interview with Marc Headley. Claire Headley, personal correspondence.

19th footnote: Dan Koon, personal correspondence. Interviews with Janela Webster, Daniel Montalvo and Sandy Kent Fullerr. Mike Rinder, Lana Mitchell, Mariette Lindstein and John Brousseau, personal communication.

21st footnote: Tony Ortega, 'Scientology's Cruise Ship as Prison," Runnin' Scared (blog) The Village Voice, Nov. 29, 2011.

22nd footnote: 2004 International Association of Scientologists Freedom Medal of Valor Ceremony. 

[In 2004 Miscavige assigned a team to help Cruise in his search for a girlfriend. The search came up with an aspiring actress Nazanin Boniadi, a 25-year-old Iranian born, London-raised woman whose mother was also a Scientologist. She was given intensive auditing and security checks by the Church and flown to New York and Telluride in late 2007 for elaborate dates with Cruise.]

But the relationship ended when Miscavige addressed comments to her and she couldn't quite understand what he said. She had to ask him to repeat himself more than once.

The next day both Davis and Cruise dressed her down for disrespecting the Church leader. Naz had embarrassed Miscavige because he wasn't able to get his message across. With his characteristic intensity, Cruise himself later explained the seriousness of the situation:(23)

"You don't get it, it goes like this," Cruise said. He raised his hand over his head. "First there's LRH." He moved his hand down a few inches. "Then there is COB." Bringing his hand down to his own eye level, he said, "Then there's me." (Cruise's attorney denies that this exchange took place or that the Church set him up.)(24)

A few months later, in April 2005, Cruise met Katie Holmes. The two were married in November 2006. Miscavige was Cruise's best man. [Though she was often seen with Scientology officials, it has never been revealed how much, if any, Scientology training Holmes engaged in before she and Cruise divorced in 2012.]

Cruise poured millions of dollars into the Church -- $3 million in 2004. He was not simply a figurehead; he was an activist with an international following. He could take the Church to places it had never been before. Whenever Cruise traveled abroad to promote his movies, he used the opportunity to lobby foreign leaders and American ambassadors to promote Scientology.(25)

Cruise repeatedly consulted with President Clinton, lobbying him to get Prime Minister Tony Blair's help in getting the Church of Scientology declared a tax-deductible charitable organization in the U.K. Rathbun was present for one telephone call in which Clinton advised Cruise he would be better served by contacting Blair's wife, Cherie, rather than the prime minister because she was a lawyer and "would understand the details." Later, Cruise went to London, where he met with a couple of Blair's representatives, though nothing came of those efforts.(26 )

In 2003, he met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, to express the Church's concerns over its treatment in Germany. Cruise had access to practically anyone in the world.(27)

That same year, Cruise and Davis lobbied Rod Paige, the secretary of education during the first term of President George W. Bush, to endorse Hubbard's "study tech" educational methods. Paige had been impressed. For months, Cruise kept in contact with Paige's office, urging that Scientology techniques be folded into the president's No Child Left Behind program.(28)

23rd footnote: Maureen Orth, "What Katie Didn't Know," Vanity Fair, Oct. 2012.

24th footnote: Interview with Mark “Marty” Rathbun. Rathbun, The Scientology Reformation, p. 86.

25th footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 286. 

26th footnote: Mike Rinder interview.

27th footnote:Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 286.

28th footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 286.

One day, Cruise flew his little red-and-white-striped Pitts Special biplane, designed for aerobatics, to Hemet, along with his Scientologist chief of staff, Michael Doven. Miscavige and Rathbun picked them up and drove them to Gold Base. Rathbun was in the back seat and recalls Cruise boasting to COB about his talks with the secretary.

"Bush may be an idiot," Miscavige observed, "but I wouldn't mind his being our Constantine," referring to the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity.

Cruise agreed. "If f--ing Arnold can be governor, I could be president."

Miscavige responded, "Well, absolutely, Tom."

(Cruise, through his lawyer, denies this exchange and says he has no political ambition.)(29)

Cruise turned his attention to the other Scientologists in the industry. Many had gone quiet following the negative publicity surrounding several high-profile exposés of the Church or had never openly admitted their affiliation with Scientology to begin with. Cruise called a meeting of other Scientology celebrities and urged them to become more outspoken. The popular singer Beck, who had grown up in the Church, subsequently began speaking openly about his faith. Erika Christensen, a rising young actress who was also a second-generation Scientologist, called Cruise her spiritual mentor.

By the mid-2000s, Cruise was considered the unofficial Ethics Officer of Hollywood. He was the embodiment of Hubbard's vision of a Church with temples dedicated to celebrity rather than God. Cruise's intensity and commitment, along with his spectacular ambition, matched Miscavige's own. It was as if Miscavige had rubbed a magic lantern and Cruise had appeared, a genie who could open any door. He was one of the few people Miscavige saw as a peer. Miscavige even wondered if there was some way to appoint Cruise the Church's Inspector General for Ethics -- Rathbun's job.(30)

"He'd say that Tom Cruise was the only person in Scientology, other than himself, that he would trust to run the Church," one former Sea Org member recalled. Rathbun observed: "Miscavige convinced Cruise that he and Tom were two of only a handful of truly 'big beings' on the planet. He instructed Cruise that LRH was relying upon them to unite with the few others of their ilk on earth to make it onto 'Target Two' -- some unspecified galactic locale where they would meet up with Hubbard in the afterlife."(31)

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of six books, including The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.

Excerpted from Going Clear by Lawrence Wright. Copyright (c) 2013by Lawrence Wright. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. 

twitter: thrbooks, andyblewis



29th footnote: Interview with Mark “Marty” Rathbun.

30th footnote: Morton, Tom Cruise, p. 337.

31st footnote: Reitman, Inside Scientology, p. 290.