Thanks to former Scientologist Tiziano Lugli, we have a world exclusive for you today here at the Underground Bunker. It’s a previously unreleased video made by the Church of Scientology and intended only to be seen by members. It’s a short segment that’s part of a larger, hour-and-a-half grand opening celebration, and it captures Tom Cruise helping to open the new Madrid church in 2004, with the actor charming the locals by giving a 7-minute speech about what Scientology means to him — in Spanish!
The date was September 18, 2004, and on hand were not only local dignitaries but also some of Scientology’s most significant figures. Sitting next to Scientology leader David Miscavige in the front row of the audience, for example, is his wife Shelly, who vanished about a year later and, after briefly being seen in the summer of 2007, has not been seen in public since — a disappearance Cruise has never said anything about.
Cruise himself was at his most gung-ho in his long career as a church member. After he’s introduced by the president of the new church, Maria Gutierrez, Cruise eschews the stairs and leaps up onto the speaker’s platform in a single bound (Tom does all his own stunts).
We have a lot more to say about the time and context of this speech, but for now, enjoy seeing Tom Cruise sounding out a speech in Spanish as he tries to express just how much Scientology changed his life…
Here’s a transcript of what he says…
I am going to attempt to speak to you in Spanish. So please, be patient with me. Be patient. Is that OK? I am very happy to be with you today. The reasons are simple. I adore and love this country and its people. I was raised by my mother. We didn’t have much, but she gave me something I have held onto to this day: The importance of people. I care deeply about my family and my fellow man. In fact, I value that above all else I possess. And that is why the only despair I ever felt was when I could not help. I confronted the same problems as everyone else: Conflict, upsets, interpersonal relationships. All those things that prevent the most valuable commodity in life: Happiness. That is what made me look for answers. Twenty years ago, this despair was gone. It was the day I discovered Scientology. What I found were tools that work. Solutions that can be applied and that resolve, in fact, the problems of life. And above all, it helped me to find peace and happiness. And I will tell you what I got in life, as a man, as a father, as an artist — it is the result of being a Scientologist and having these tools. If I could give you the world, I would. But can you achieve happiness? That is why I am so happy to help give you this church, like the one I have had, so that you can reach your dreams. Thank you very much, Spain. Thank you very much.
Where to start. Well, first of all, it’s surprising to us that Tom here says it was twenty years earlier that he had discovered Scientology. By all accounts, it was actress Mimi Rogers who introduced Tom to Dianetics and Scientology after they met in 1985 and then began dating the next year. It was in 1986 that Mimi began taking Tom to The Enhancement Centre, a Sherman Oaks Scientology field office Mimi had founded with her previous husband Jim Rogers and then had sold but still used. (Rogers and Cruise were married on Dianetics Day — May 9 — in 1987.) So perhaps Tom was gilding the lily here. As far as we know, he wouldn’t actually reach his 20th anniversary with Scientology for a couple more years.
As we explained in a recent story that for the first time detailed how Scientology encouraged a split between Rogers and Cruise, the couple divorced in 1990 after Tom had already started seeing his Days of Thunder co-star, Nicole Kidman. The two were married that year, and Kidman did considerable Scientology training of her own before she began to move away from the church and took Tom with her. Although Scientology did a good job keeping it quiet at the time, Tom largely moved away from Scientology between the years 1992 and 2001, when he and Kidman broke up. During those years, Cruise maintained some nominal connection to the church — he even took a course in October 1998 at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre that had him judging the “tone level” of random people in a parking lot, as Lawrence Wright revealed in his book Going Clear. But in the film version of Going Clear, former church spokesman Mike Rinder said that it drove Miscavige to distraction that Cruise was out of communication with him during the time he was filming Eyes Wide Shut (from 1996 to 1998), and Cruise again kept his distance after his brief course in 1998. After Cruise’s marriage to Kidman ended in January 2001, Miscavige made it “job one” to get Cruise back in the fold, ordering top auditor Mark “Marty” Rathbun to turn Cruise into the most rabid church member possible. By the end of 2003, Rathbun said in Going Clear, he’d accomplished that goal.
In January 2004, Cruise split with two important people in his life: actress Penélope Cruz, whom he’d been dating since his break-up with Kidman, and Pat Kingsley, his longtime publicist, who had been such an effective shield protecting Cruise from media questions about Scientology. Cruise replaced Kingsley with his own sister, Lee Anne DeVette, as he now began to experiment with being more public with his Scientology fervor.
Just a few weeks after he gave this speech in Madrid, in October Cruise would be the subject of an elaborate celebration in England as Miscavige lavished him with a 35-minute video tribute and a special “Freedom Medal of Valor” recognizing Tom’s new status as the “most dedicated” of Scientologists. Part of that 35-minute video was a 9-minute interview of Cruise himself, wearing a black turtleneck, and talking about what a “privilege” it was to call yourself a Scientologist, and how only Scientologists are qualified to do something at the site of a car accident. (That strange video was leaked to the web four years later, in January 2008, and helped cement Cruise’s bizarre image as a Scientology follower with the public.)
After finishing his recitation in Madrid, you see Tom come down off stage and hand his speech to Tommy Davis, the son of actress Anne Archer and a rising star in Scientology at the time….
Mike Rinder is not seen in this video segment, but he tells us that he was present at the celebration. He says that at this point, Tommy Davis was a “go-fer” for Cruise. (Davis would go on to become the church’s most visible face from about 2006 to 2011, as he appeared on numerous television shows as the church’s main spokesman. He then mysteriously disappeared and then resurfaced in Austin, out of Scientology’s “Sea Org” and now working for a real estate speculator.) In the video, Davis is seen standing next to Tom’s other assistant, a woman named Jennifer Hammon.
And Rinder tells us there’s another reason why the Madrid event was notable: “This is where Cruise told me that his sister was failing to find him a girlfriend, and then Dave Miscavige and Shelly walked in the room,” Rinder tells us.
That conversation began the bizarre operation, headed up by Shelly Miscavige, to have the Church of Scientology audition actresses to find Tom Cruise a new girlfriend. A couple of months later, as the film Going Clear explains in detail, actress and then-Scientologist Nazanin Boniadi was selected to be Cruise’s mate. She was given thousands of dollars in new wardrobe, had her braces removed from her teeth, and otherwise was dolled up before being flown to New York to begin what she thought was going to be a “humanitarian” mission for the church. Instead, she played the role of Cruise’s girlfriend for the next few months, until about the third week of January 2005. Cruise had Tommy Davis tell her the relationship was over after Miscavige didn’t like the way Boniadi had a hard time understanding his rapid way of speaking. Crushed, Boniadi ended up cleaning toilets with a toothbrush at Scientology’s “Flag Land Base” in Clearwater, Florida. She’s now out of the church, and recently finished an acclaimed run as a recurring character on the series Homeland. She has never said anything publicly about her relationship with Cruise, but we did reveal some of her disatisfaction with Scientology in, of all things, a rap song — which also was leaked to the world by Tiziano Lugli.
Lugli was one of several prominent Scientologists who left the church in recent years and then became the focus of intense surveillance and harassment by Scientology’s private investigators. His parents, Claudio and Renata Lugli, who have also left the church, were personal tailors to David and Shelly Miscavige, and the Luglis have appeared in several of Tiziano’s videos (here, here, and here) about life after leaving the church.
It was Claudio and Renata who gave us never-before-seen photos of Shelly Miscavige posing in clothes they designed, photos we used as we explained in several stories what had happened to the woman who was not only David Miscavige’s wife but had also been a longtime leader of the church in her own right. According to multiple accounts, including sources who were eyewitnesses and have only spoken to the Underground Bunker, it was about a year after this video was shot, in August or September 2005, that David Miscavige had a meltdown over something Shelly had done and then, a week later, Shelly vanished. Through multiple lines of evidence, we strongly believe that for the past ten years Shelly has been kept out of sight at a secretive Scientology base near Lake Arrowhead in the mountains above Los Angeles. She was only let out very briefly, in the summer of 2007, to attend her father’s funeral. Since then, she’s been working at the Church of Spiritual Technology headquarters, a “vault” location where Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s written words and lectures are preserved to be stored for millennia in bomb-proof bunkers.
At Madrid, a year before her disappearance, you can briefly glimpse Shelly sitting between Miscavige and his “personal communicator,” Laurisse “Lou” Henley-Smith…
After his breakup with Boniadi, Cruise went into one of his strangest years ever. It became public on April 27, 2005 that he was dating Katie Holmes, and then, still counseled by his sister rather than the wiser Kingsley, Cruise declared his love for Holmes on Oprah’s couch on May 23, and then argued with Matt Lauer on the Today show about psychiatry on June 23. Cruise was supposed to be promoting his starring role in Steven Spielberg’s version of War of Worlds, which opened on June 29, but, pushed by Miscavige, Cruise turned it instead into his coming out as Scientology’s argumentative mouthpiece. It was a disastrous miscalculation, and in some ways Cruise’s reputation has never really recovered. Soon enough, Cruise clammed up about Scientology again, and as we saw with the recent release of his latest Mission: Impossible sequel, he allows no questions about it.
But on that day in Madrid, you can see Cruise’s enthusiasm on full display, particularly when it’s time to cut the ribbon on the building and, once again, Cruise leaps onto the stage and then manhandles Miscavige with glee…
We wanted to make a further footnote about this period. At the October celebration in England a few weeks after this Madrid event, the International Association of Scientologists held its 20th anniversary gala. The IAS is Scientology’s slush fund, which all members are hounded to give money to. At IAS galas, a few Scientologists are singled out each year for their dedication and are given “Freedom Medals.” But Miscavige was so thrilled with Cruise’s transformation, he gave the actor a much larger pendant, which he named the “Freedom Medal of Valor.” No other Scientologist has been awarded with a similar honor…
What’s less well known, however, is that Cruise was also given a very special trophy that weekend as he was celebrated as the very first person to achieve the IAS status of “Platinum Meritorious.”
In order to convince Scientologists to fork over huge amounts of money simply for the sake of fueling Miscavige’s many campaigns around the world, members can unlock increasing statuses, going from “Sponsor” at $5,000 to “Patron with Honors” at $100,000 and so on. Before that October 2004 celebration, the most anyone had given to the IAS was a cumulative $1 million, which unlocked the “Gold Meritorious” level. But now, Tom Cruise became the first person ever to donate a cumulative total of $2.5 million, and was the first to be named “Platinum Meritorious”…
Scientology’s Impact magazine of a few months later, in February 2005, confirms that at that point, Tom Cruise was the single biggest donor to the Church of Scientology up to that time, and that Platinum Meritorious required a donation of $2.5 million. (And thanks to SciCrit for finding this old Impact online)…
But in the summer and fall of 2004, before it all backfired on them a year later, Tom Cruise was the most generous donor, the most dedicated, fanatical believer, and wasn’t afraid to give David Miscavige a big bear hug on stage in front of thousands of Spaniards. Enjoy, then, Tom’s moment in the sun, speaking Spanish and opening a new church.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Speaking of Madrid, how’s that Ideal Org doing now? It’s not exactly a land rush in a photo posted by a visitor yesterday…
Even in Japan COB couldn’t find anyone to tower over?
And some more views from inside the newest Ideal Org…
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.
Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…
August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)
Sept 15: Barrett the Honors College, Arizona State University, ASU in Downtown Phoenix campus
Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio
Sept 24: Minneapolis
Sept 27: Portland
Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists
Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm
Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)
Oct 25: Melbourne
Oct 28: Adelaide (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)
Oct 30: Perth
Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4)
Posted by Tony Ortega on August 10, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield