The Church of Scientology is once more in rebuttal mode after being accused of asking its most eligible young female members to take part in an “audition” process to identify a wife for Tom Cruise.
A cover story in next month’s Vanity Fair details the bizarre alleged casting call, claiming that it was orchestrated by the wife of the Church’s leader David Miscavige in 2004, following the breakdown of the actor’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.
The process is said to have spawned a two-month relationship between Mr Cruise and Nazanin Boniadi, a now 32 year-old television actress. She was selected after being told that she was auditioning for a Scientology training video, and underwent a month-long “vetting” process, the magazine claims.
In a statement, the Church said: “The allegations about [us] supposedly ‘auditioning’ prospective brides for Tom Cruise is a false piece of gossip that has been floating around the tabloids for several years sourced to a group of anti-Scientologists.”
Details of Vanity Fair’s claims remain under wraps until the full article, said to run to nearly 10,000 words, hits news-stands. However a 1000-word version was published on the title’s website over the weekend.
It claims that, after successful auditions, Ms Boniadi was required to sign multiple confidentiality agreements before her first date with Mr Cruise. They dined at Nobu in New York, then went ice-skating. The actor reportedly then told her he’d “never felt this way before, after which they spent that night together but: “did not have sex.”
The relationship blossomed during its first month, when Ms Boniadi moved into Mr Cruise’s home and was given a credit card. But the article claims it hit choppy water after she allegedly failed to both show him sufficient public affection, and get along with Mr Miscavige - something reportedly denied by Mr Miscavige’s spokesperson.
In January 2005, Mr Cruise apparently asked the Church to end the relationship on his behalf. Ms Boniadi, who was very upset, confided in a fellow Scientologist, who “reported” her for breaking secrets. She was then allegedly punished by being forced to scrub toilets with a toothbrush at a Scientology centre in Florida - claims denied by the Church. Vanity Fair said Mr Cruise declined to be interviewed.
Ms Boniadi has since left the Church. A friend and fellow refugee from the organisation, Marty Rathbun, told The Independent today that: “from what we’ve seen so far” of the Vanity Fair piece, “the whole thing is true.”
Mr Rathbun, who during his time in the Church was Mr Cruise’s counsellor, stressed that Ms Boniadi had not co-operated with the magazine’s reporter, Maureen Orth. “If she’d wanted to sell her story, she’d have done it years ago,” he said.
He added that the failure of the auditioning process prompted Mr Cruise to look outside the Church for a romantic partner. “After Naz, Tom decided that the whole thing was an unmitigated disaster, so gave up on David Miscavige finding his ideal girlfriend. That’s when he started dating Katie Holmes. Their relationship was in a way the result of this process which failed.”