The Church of Scientology and its followers may have a reputation for being a little, let's say, out there. But certainly, there's no way that Church officials actually auditioned potential girlfriends and wives for Tom Cruise before he met Katie Holmes, as Vanity Fair recently reported, right?
Well, Tom Cruise's reps say the allegations are all lies. But if you ask former Scientologist Paul Haggis, it's true.
According to the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, actress Nazanin Boniadi did go through a rigorous process in 2004 to become romantically linked to the "Mission Impossible" actor.
Haggis, known for the Oscar-winning films "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash," left the Church of Scientology in 2009 after 34 years as a devotee. As the London, Ont. native was researching his religious doubts, he reportedly met Boniadi through a mutual friend three years ago, and has kept her secrets ever since. Haggis claims it's true that Scientology screened Boniadi to be Tom Cruise's new wife by forcing her to "audition" every day for a month, break up with her then-boyfriend, change her appearance, go on chaperoned dates, and sign a confidentiality agreement.
"Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done. It wasn't just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting," he told Showbiz 411.
Haggis made a very public split from Scientology through a letter of resignation, which Haggis says did not go over well with some of his former "friends." Boniadi also has quietly separated herself from the Church, "after several years of trying to handle this injustice internally, to no avail."Tom Cruise/Nazanin Boniadi (WireImage)
When Cruise reportedly "dumped" Boniadi through Scientology representatives after several months of dating, and she confessed the ordeal to a friend, Boniadi allegedly was forced to clean a bathtub with acid and dig ditches at midnight as "punishment." Meanwhile, Cruise began seeing Katie Holmes and married her six months after their daughter Suri was born.
"This story will draw attention because of our fascination with celebrity. Most of the others are just ordinary people whose stories, if told, would not appear in a magazine... They fear an incredibly wealthy organization that boasts that it seeks truth, empowers people, brings families together, encourages independent thought and free speech, and champions human rights," Haggis wrote in his email. "I was happily blind for many years, so I know the shame that Naz feels."
Haggis, who currently lives in Santa Monica, also commented on his friendship with Boniadi, who has appeared on "General Hospital" as well as smaller roles in "Charlie Wilson's War," "Iron Man," "The Next Three Days" (directed by Haggis), as well as a love interest for Neil Patrick Harris in "How I Met Your Mother."
"In Naz's case, she has no right to feel ashamed...The last thing she wanted or needed is this kind of publicity, but here it is, and I am sure she will deal with it with the same grace and dignity she exudes in her daily life," Haggis said. "I'm appalled that any church would treat its parishioners this way, but Naz has never cast herself as a victim. She is strong and resilient and I am very proud to call her a friend."