We have another screenshot from Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, which airs on Sunday, March 29 at 8pm. Pictured here is one of the eight former Scientologists interviewed for the movie, former Sea Org executive Tom DeVocht. We recently gave you a little background on Tom and explained how he’s been dealing with an increase in private investigator harassment as the movie’s airing nears.
And now, for the first time, he’s giving us new information about what he saw up close as one of Scientology leader David Miscavige’s most trusted lieutenants at a time when one of Miscavige’s top priorities was actor Tom Cruise. We’ll let DeVocht explain.
In Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, I was glad to see how much Tom Cruise is put on the spot about his behavior in the church. I’ve seen others portray Tom as a kind of “victim” of Scientology. It simply isn’t true.
Many people are victims of Scientology. They’ve been bullied into submission. They’ve had their family and friends ripped away from them through Scientology’s policy of “disconnection.” Others have been ruined financially, and some have had their minds so warped they no longer know who they really are.
Someone like my sister, for example. And my ex-wife, Jenny Linson (daughter of Fight Club producer Art Linson). Both women have been turned into mindless automatons. And let’s not forget the young children who have been raised in the cult. When they finally escape into the outside world, they typically have no formal education, and nowhere to go or the means to get there.
No, Tom Cruise doesn’t fit into any of those categories, except for maybe not knowing who he is. But it’s plain that his involvement in the Scientology cult has done him nothing but harm.
So why is Tom Cruise involved with Scientology at all?
I worked closely with David Miscavige for years. I became for a while his “buddy,” and, unwittingly, one of his henchmen. I did his dirty work, spending many millions of dollars in parishioner donations on a roughly 40,000-square-foot building at the International Base near Hemet, California.
It was “Building 50,” or the headquarters of the Religious Technology Center, the controlling entity of Scientology, which Miscavige runs as its Chairman of the Board. (Hence, the name he’s called by lowly parishioners, “COB.”)
Almost everything in this over-the-top building was custom made, from hand-woven rugs and one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, to bulletproof windows and a customized stainless steel desk. Miscavige was adamant that this building would be a showpiece — even though it sits on a piece of desert property in the middle of nowhere and is never visited by anyone except members of the inner sanctum of Scientology leadership.
But what does this have to do with Tom Cruise? My answer: Everything.
Between 2001 and 2004, Miscavige repeatedly told me that the RTC building “has to be good enough for Tom Cruise.” Miscavige insisted that Tom would be hanging out with him there, and might even have his own office.
Miscavige and I once had a long discussion about the photographs he wanted to hang in the hallways of “COB’s wing.” Originally, he’d planned to put up pictures of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. But maybe, he wondered, Cruise would be more impressed if the hallways were decorated with photos of Miscavige himself. But even he realized how that might be too much, and he hadn’t resolved the question when I left the Sea Org in 2005. But I was told that ultimately underwater photographs taken by Miscavige on his diving expeditions were put on the walls — a sure way to impress Cruise.
It became very clear to me that Miscavige was starstruck, and he was obsessed with Tom Cruise. He constantly tried to keep up with Tom, coming up with new “Top Gun”-like uniforms, motorcycles, expensive clothing, wristwatches, and on and on.
I actually believed Miscavige liked the guy until I was invited to the premiere of Vanilla Sky in December 2001. It was a reunion of sorts. As Marty Rathbun explains in the movie Going Clear, Tom had fallen away from Scientology for much of the 1990s because of his relationship with Nicole Kidman, and Tom was entirely cut off from Miscavige while he was filming Eyes Wide Shut. But then, to drive a wedge between Tom and Nicole and bring Cruise back into the fold, Miscavige had Rathbun audit Cruise for several years until he was a gung-ho member again. (Tom announced that he’d filed for divorce from Nicole in February 2001.)
At the Vanilla Sky premiere, Cruise’s co-star, Penelope Cruz, was by his side, and Tom was showing off his new SUV to Miscavige — it was customized and very nice.
When he pulled away, Miscavige let his petty jealousy show. He said that Penelope “had to go,” saying that she had looked at him “funny” and was “too Catholic.” (Even though it was clear Miscavige really didn’t like her, she continued to date Tom until 2004.) Miscavige also said that Tom was a “punk” because his SUV wasn’t as nice as Dave’s. “Mine is better, much better,” Miscavige said.
But Miscavige also acknowledged how valuable Tom was to Scientology. In late 2004, Miscavige and I were in London for the annual gala of the International Association of Scientologists. Normally, Miscavige would hand out a few “Freedom Medals” to church members who had done extra work. But this time, to recognize Cruise’s return to the fold, he intended to give him a special, larger medal that he was calling the “Freedom Medal of Valor.”
In Miscavige’s mind, those of us in International Management were all looking for opportunities to betray him and take the church down. He needed someone he could count on.
He explained his strategy to me this way. “Cruise isn’t smart enough to run the church like I can, but he has the presence and could be my Inspector General, and people would respect and listen to him. Because Tom is a very good actor, he could carry out my exact commands and directions like a puppet, and that would be OK with me. He wouldn’t even have to think. Then we’d be getting somewhere.”
He looked at me sternly and insisted, “I’m damned serious about this and I think he’ll do it.”
I don’t know if Miscavige ever pitched his idea to Tom about becoming his inspector general (a position Marty Rathbun had left earlier that year). But Tom did, in a way, replace us all. Rathbun had left. I wasn’t needed any more. Mike Rinder left a couple of years later.
In the meantime, word went out that everyone had to refer to Tom as Mr. Cruise, or better yet, “Sir.” He was never to be addressed by his first name.
And all of this was happening while Tom was going through his own PR disaster. Becoming the ambassador of Scientology turned out to backfire on him badly, as he made an ass of himself on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch.
But he was only following the script that Miscavige had written for him. They were brothers in arms, two “big beings” saving the world and taking no prisoners.
A year or two after I walked away, I heard from a dear friend who had also left Scientology. Greg managed Scientology’s hotels in Clearwater, Florida. One day, he found himself riding an elevator with Miscavige and Cruise. Greg asked a simple question: “How are you today, Tom?”
Greg explained this was the beginning of the end of him and he soon after was expelled. He believes to this day his “crime” was addressing Tom Cruise by his first name in front of Miscavige.
Don’t look to Tom Cruise as some sort of victim. He is, in fact, the deputy Chairman of the Board of the Church of Scientology, and it seems to me that he sort of likes it.
— Tom DeVocht
Thank you for that, Tom. We just want to add that in Gibney’s film, DeVocht explains in more detail how Miscavige made fun of Cruise behind his back, even sharing with DeVocht and others intimate details from the notes Rathbun had taken during his auditing sessions with Cruise, notes that contained graphic details of the actor’s sex life. As we reported earlier, Miscavige also had Cruise spied on for years.
If Miscavige was said to repeatedly betray the trust of his friend, we learned that Cruise’s relationship to Miscavige was surprisingly worshipful. As John Brousseau told us, Cruise worshiped Miscavige like a god. And Brousseau was in a position to know — he had not only customized Cruise’s homes and automobiles, he’d also been Miscavige’s brother-in-law. If you haven’t seen our two-part series on Brousseau and his amazing experiences in Scientology please do: Part 1, Part 2.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Here are some additional looks at the model for the L. Ron Hubbard Hall, which will go in next to the Super Power Building…
Scientology is trying to glom onto the UN’s International Day of Happiness (March 20) by handing out The Way to Happiness booklets. Here they are in Denmark, and look how happy!
Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!
Posted by Tony Ortega on March 21, 2015 at 07:00
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