Unconfirmed rumors about Scientology supervised girlfriend-auditions have dogged Tom Cruise since he began dating Nicole Kidman (and reached a fever pitch with Katie Holmes), but never before have we gotten such a cold, creepy glimpse into the process. Now, thanks to Vanity Fair, we know it involves Church-appointed babysitters, the critical importance of communication “landing,” and scrubbing toilets with toothbrushes.
The sordid tale begins in 2004, when Scientology began a search effort–spearheaded by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige–to cast a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. Per Vanity Fair‘s unsettling cover story on the matter, “the organization devised an elaborate audition process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Apparently poor Lindsay Lohan, while not a Scientologist, was involved in one such round and thrilled to be considered for an upcoming Mission Impossible.
Iranian-born actress and longtime Scientologist Nazanin Boniadi made it through the Church’s vetting process and was flown to New York to meet the actor. They ate overpriced sushi and ice-skated in Rockefeller Center, all the while tailed by two Scientology chaperones. Somehow this, and the confidentiality agreements she signed, didn’t put Boniadi off one bit and she endured a brief fling/test relationship with Cruise from November 2004 to January, 2005. She even ended up falling for Cruise, kind of like She’s All That except with a cult.
No, but seriously. It sounds insane:
Though the first month of the relationship was bliss, by the second month Boniadi was more and more often found wanting, Orth reports. According to the knowledgeable source, anything she said or did that Cruise found fault with he immediately reported to a member of the Scientology staff, and she would be audited for it. This began with her very first words to him, “Very well done,” regarding his receiving Scientology’s Freedom Medal of Valor. The phrase implied that Cruise was her junior. According to the knowledgeable source, Boniadi also offended Scientology chief David Miscavige, who speaks rapidly, because she kept saying, “Excuse me?” when she was entertaining him and his wife during a visit to Telluride. In Scientology, the ability to have your communication “land” is crucial. Boniadi was excoriated by Cruise for disrespecting Miscavige. (A representative for Miscavige told Vanity Fair, “Mr. Miscavige doesn’t remember any girlfriend of anyone, in his entire life, insulting him.”)
According to Orth, Boniadi was in love with Cruise, but the intensity of his affection, especially his predilection for public displays, overwhelmed her. “I get more love from an extra than I get from you,” the actor reportedly complained. Every day Boniadi spent two to three hours purging herself of “negative thoughts about Tom.” She felt completely shut off; her only source of money was a credit card issued in the name of Cruise’s production company.
Following the alleged episode with Miscavige, Cruise barely acknowledged Boniadi, though she had moved into his house and they shared a bedroom. By the third week in January, she was asked to move into Scientology’s Celebrity Centre. Boniadi was told that Cruise “wants someone with her own power—like Nicole.” When she asked why Cruise would not break up with her himself, she was told he was not to be disturbed. A Scientology official allegedly told her, by way of explanation, “Naz, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Boniadi allegedly suffered a breakdown after this surrealist nightmare starring a slowly-disintegrating Maverick from Top Gun and her constant sobbing caught the attention of a friend and fellow Church member. In her weakness, Boniadi told the friend everything and, pretend to be surprised for only a moment, the friend ratted her out. Her punishment? Boniadi was forced to “scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. After that she was sent out to sell Scentology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics on street corners.” She’s no longer affiliated with the Church.
Both the Church and Cruise deny the allegations. Cruise’s rep said, “Lies in a different font are still lies — designed to sell magazines.” It will be interesteing to see if he poses for Vanity Fair‘s cover when he finds his next Church-appointed bride.
(Read the whole thing at Vanity Fair)