Now that Jason Lee has confirmed what we’ve suspected for a long time — that he’s out of Scientology — we’re naturally getting questions from readers wondering who among the church’s glittering celebrities will be next to jump ship.
We’ve been documenting a pretty amazing cavalcade of celebrity defectors over the last eight years. In 2008, we wrote the first press interview with actor Jason Beghe, who had made a splash with a video denouncing Scientology after being a gung-ho member for 12 years. Director Paul Haggis soon followed, announcing his decision to leave on Marty Rathbun’s blog. Both Beghe and Haggis went on to become central figures in Alex Gibney’s 2015 documentary, Going Clear.
In 2013, we broke the news that Leah Remini had left Scientology. She went on to write a book about her defection, and is now working on a series about Scientology for the A&E network that may start airing as soon as January.
And earlier this year, we confirmed something we’d first raised questions about a few years earlier, that Lisa Marie Presley had left the church. And not only that, but Lisa Marie has been behind some really monumental things that are helping to expose Scientology leader David Miscavige and his use of private investigators. In our April story about that, we also revealed that Lisa Marie had left Scientology with her mother, Priscilla Presley.
That’s a lot of pretty important stars to walk out of the joint in less than a decade. But who’s next?
In April, we wrote a story about Lucia Ribisi leaving Scientology. She’s not a big celebrity — yet — but her father Giovanni Ribisi is. And in that story, one of our sources, who happens to be a member of the church and its Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, told us that Jason Lee had moved to Texas in part to get away from Scientology. It turned out he was right.
So we went back to our source, asking him to help us put together a list of the top celebrities who remain in the church, and give us his opinion about which ones might be closest to walking out the door.
We came up with a list of 20 names, and our Celebrity Centre source rated each of them on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning practically all the way out, and 10 representing complete and utter dedication no matter how bad things get for the dwindling church.
None of our 20, he told us, rated anything as low as a 6 on that scale, indicating that he doesn’t think any of these celebrities are likely to bolt soon. But some of them he judged to be more likely to leave than others, and we’ve put them in that order.
Take a look at our list, and then we’d like to see one from you as well — tell us which five Scientology celebrities you’d most like to see bolt.
UPDATE: Some are asking us, where’s Will Smith? He’s not on this list because, as we’ve written previously, he was just a dabbler and so he didn’t “defect” when he moved away from Scientology. Also, please do disagree with our source’s rankings. That’s what a list like this is for.
Current lifetime: Born June 21, 1973 in Los Angeles (age 43)
Most famous for: Academy award nomination for her acting in 1991’s Cape Fear.
Joined Scientology: Raised in it, daughter of actor and OT 5 Scientologist Geoffrey Lewis (1935-2015)
Fun Scientology completion: L12, 1998
Indoctrination score: 6.5 out of 10
Juliette shattering suppression: “The thing about Scientology is it is anti-drug in that you’re seeking relationship or communication tools – simple basics on how to live better.”
Juliette has our source’s lowest indoctrination score, meaning that she may be the most likely to ditch the church. Why? Our source says that although she has hardcore family members (like her sister Brandy, see Ethan Suplee, below), Juliette is more focused on her music than anything else in her life, and in that life she is surrounded by non-Scientologists. Also, her behavior has been erratic, and she’s been particularly unmoored since the death of her father last year. Over the years, we’ve also received some mixed messages from Juliette, who appears to read the Underground Bunker, at least on occasion. With her unpredictability, she’s at the top of our list of Scientologist celebrities who may be ready to walk away.
Current lifetime: Born December 17, 1974 in Los Angeles (age 41)
Most famous for: Playing the villain in 2009’s Avatar, other movie and television roles
Joined Scientology: Raised in it (along with his twin sister Marissa and younger sister Gina) by legendarily militant parents Al Ribisi and Gay (Landrum) Ribisi, now divorced
Fun Scientology completion: How to Improve Your Marriage, 1998
Indoctrination score: 7 out of 10
Giovanni shattering suppression: “I have never ever heard of aliens in Scientology, and I’ve been a Scientologist all my life.”
Our source tells us that Giovanni has been hit not only with his daughter’s defection, but also one of his best friends slipping away when Jason Lee moved to Texas and ditched the church. On the other hand, he’s from a legendarily dedicated Scientology family. “He seems to be in a tug of war in his family right now. His grandfather, by the way, is still alive, and he’s not a Scientologist.” At this point, the pro-Scientology forces are probably winning the war, but there’s a small chance Giovanni may follow his daughter out.
Current lifetime: Born July 8, 1970 in Los Angeles (age 46)
Most famous for: Decades of really good, original music
Joined Scientology: Raised in it. Took the last name of his artist mother, Bibbe Hansen, who he lived with after she split with his father, composer David Campbell
Fun Scientology completion: Essentials of Dianetics, 1986
Indoctrination score: 7 out of 10
Beck shattering suppression: “I’ve read books, and I’ve learned about it. I mean, what I’m doing — I have a job, raising kids, I have friends, I have my interests, so I think my life is pretty full. I’m not off doing some weirdo stuff.”
“I think he’s always going to be half in and half out. He’s really evasive when people ask him about it. And also his mother, Bibbe, is totally out,” says our source. On the other hand, he points out, Beck is married to Marissa Ribisi, Giovanni’s twin sister, which complicates things. And he added an important corollary: Even if Beck did leave Scientology, we wouldn’t hear a thing about it from him.
Current lifetime: Born July 24, 1982 in Los Angeles (age 34)
Most famous for: Six-time Emmy-nominated run as Peggy Olson on Mad Men, 2007-2015
Joined Scientology: Raised in it, born to Scientologist musicians Ron and Linda Moss
Fun Scientology completion: Grade III Expanded, 1999
Indoctrination score: 7 out of 10
Elisabeth shattering suppression: “There isn’t really any dogma or scripture, yes or no, right or wrong on that particular subject [homosexuality] in my church.”
Says our source: “Her mother is not really totally involved in the church. In fact, both of her parents are iffy. And Elisabeth is on the front lines with the public, and is around non-Scientologists a lot. If the right conditions came about, she’d be more likely to leave than others.”
Current lifetime: Born August 19, 1982 in Seattle (age 34)
Most famous for: Memorable roles in 2000’s Traffic, 2002’s Swimfan, and others
Joined Scientology: Raised in it by her parents Steven and Kathy Christensen
Fun Scientology completion: OT 3, 2013
Indoctrination score: 8 out of 10
Erika shattering suppression: “We worship rabbits. I don’t actually know how many people think that, but I had someone ask me that.”
“Erika is tied to CCHR pretty closely, which could keep her in — CCHR is one of the biggest glues that keeps celebrities in,” says our source, referring to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Scientology’s unhinged front group that agitates against psychiatry. “On the other hand, Erika doesn’t appear to be friends with that many other Scientologists. And other than CCHR, I don’t think that there’s a lot that holds her in Scientology.”
Current lifetime: Born August 14, 1968 in London (age 48)
Most famous for: Playing a Marine lieutenant colonel in Jag (1997 to 2005) and then the wife of an Army lieutenant colonel in Army Wives (2007 to 2013)
Joined Scientology: Late 1980s, influenced by other actors as she was breaking in
Fun Scientology completion: Stuck on OT 7 forever
Indoctrination score: 8 out of 10
Catherine shattering suppression: “I cognited very early on that if you really want to move fast and you only have a small amount of time, come to Flag. Go flat out, stay at Flag and just have everything taken care of for you.”
Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder dropped a bit of a bombshell two years ago when he reported at his blog it was well known in Scientology circles that after Catherine Bell’s divorce with actor Adam Beason in 2011 she joined up with party planner Brooke Daniells. Said Rinder: “Whatever their PR statements, someone auditing on OT 7 leaving her husband to have a relationship with another woman does not win you any popularity contest with Dear Leader.” Our source says that since that happened, Catherine has been “kept off lines” and “it’s all kept very quiet.” In other words, Catherine won’t be progressing up the Bridge to reach higher levels of enlightenment. How long before Catherine tires of Scientology’s legendary homophobia and bails?
Current lifetime: Born January 13, 1976 in Chicago (age 40)
Most famous for: Being a likeable schlub in movies like 2004’s Crash and 2015’s The Martian
Joined Scientology: After seeing Jenna Elfman talk up Scientology on television
Fun Scientology completion: Dynamics of Money, 2004
Indoctrination score: 9 out of 10
Michael shattering suppression: “I remember seeing Jenna Elfman being interviewed by Barbara Walters…I really cognited on that. I was like, Wow! That sounds amazing.”
“It’s not very likely that he’s going to get out,” says our source, who gave Peña only a small sliver of hope that he might have an awakening. “Michael’s career is doing really well, he keeps a somewhat low profile in Scientology, and they don’t push him. So he’s comfortable where he is. I think he equates being in Scientology with his success. But he’s out and around with a lot of non-Scientologists, and constantly working might help him see the problems in Scientology.”
The rest of our celebrities earned a solid 10 out of 10 on our source’s indoctrination scale. He doesn’t see any of them leaving, and figures that as long as there’s a Church of Scientology to belong to, they’ll belong to it. Here they are in alphabetical order…
Current lifetime: Born January 12, 1951 in Wichita (age 65)
Most famous for: Roles in Cheers, Look Who’s Talking and numerous other films and TV shows, all eclipsed by public obsession with her weight gain and loss
Joined Scientology: In 1979 after it helped her with a cocaine addiction
Fun Scientology completion: Super Power, 2014
Kirstie shattering suppression: “It is not true that you cannot [leave the church]…You’re not shunned, you’re not chased. All that stuff’s bullshit.”
“She’s always been kind of a wacked-out person, and at this point, I think that it’s the only thing that kind of gives her credibility in her own mind. Her career is pretty much no place, she doesn’t need money. So she would really lose it if she didn’t have the stability that the church gives her.”
Current lifetime: Born August 24, 1947 in Los Angeles (age 69)
Most famous for: Academy award nomination for her acting in 1987’s Fatal Attraction, also for being mother to Tommy Davis
Joined Scientology: Reportedly, in 1975, during her first marriage to real estate investor William Davis
Fun Scientology completion: OT 5, 2002
Anne shattering suppression: “Do I look brainwashed to you?”
“She’ll never leave — she and her husband, [TV executive] Terry Jastrow. She’s comfortable in it, she’s older. And I think she’s happy with what they think of as an idyllic life. And they’re treated like royalty.”
Current lifetime: Born October 25, 1957 in Dayton (age 58)
Most famous for: Voicing Bart Simpson
Joined Scientology: In 1991, after attending a barbecue with Scientologists
Fun Scientology completion: OT 8, 2015
Nancy shattering suppression: “I believe that there is a power that I am striving for. I think the best way to describe that would be to name that ‘God,’ you know. And ideally I would have to say that I am striving to be that God.”
“She’s so hardcore, she even polices the other celebrities. She considers herself the ideal standard of a Scientology celebrity, and she lets the others know it if they aren’t measuring up to it.”
Current lifetime: Born June 12, 1941 in Boston (age 75)
Most famous for: Decades of great jazz
Joined Scientology: In 1968, after reading books by L. Ron Hubbard
Fun Scientology completion: OT 8 for the second time, 2016
Chick shattering suppression: “I found L. Ron Hubbard’s books and lectures to be of great help to me in my effort to learn more about myself and how I could be more effective in helping my family and friends.”
“He’s not leaving. He’s living in the past. He’s rehashing the past as an artist. He’s not progressing,” says our source. A Scientology publication in Italy, of all places, recently noted that Chick had completed OT 8, the highest level of advancement in Scientology. It turns out that it’s a redo — Chick also completed OT 8 a quarter century ago, in 1991. OT 8 is supposed to be the ultimate step to becoming an “operating thetan,” and having power over space and matter and the ability to leave your body at will. It’s also very expensive, in the tens of thousands of dollars just for that one level. So why need to do it twice? “I think they convinced him that they had changed it slightly and so he needed to do it over again. It’s so insane,” says our source. And as for being stuck in the past, which is saying something in an organization that puts a premium on being “PT” or “present time,” our source says it’s actually very common in Scientology. “The irony of it is that in any addictive situation, you’re stuck at the age when you first got in.”
Current lifetime: Born July 3, 1962 in Syracuse (age 54)
Most famous for: Being Tom Cruise
Joined Scientology: In 1986, as he began dating Scientologist actress Mimi Rogers. They were married in 1987 on Dianetics Day, May 9.
Fun Scientology completion: OT 7, certificate awarded by Debbie Cook
Tom shattering suppression: “Matt… Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, you’re glib, you don’t even know what Ritalin is.”
At first, our source gave us a whole list of things that he believed should be motivating Tom Cruise to reassess his commitment to Scientology, not the least of which is his non-existent relationship with his own daughter, Suri. But motivations are one thing, real progress is another. Pressed for an answer, our source admitted that despite having so many reasons to turn his back on Scientology leader David Miscavige, Tom Cruise just doesn’t seem capable of doing it. Part of it, he says, is that things are just too good for Tom as Scientology’s top celebrity. “They give him whatever he wants, including people. They get him all his staffing,” he says. Cruise also seems fully bought in to Scientology’s more esoteric teleological beliefs: Tom Cruise and David Miscavige really do consider themselves the two most important human beings on Earth, and the rest of us, at least those of us not working to “Keeping Scientology Working,” are deluded, degraded beings living on a prison planet. Even after the revelations that his best pal David Miscavige is spying on him, manipulating his relationships, and even laughs at his sexual problems behind his back, Cruise seems utterly dedicated to the cause. “I think it’s going to take something pretty catastrophic in his career or his life for things to change, something that he just can’t ignore.”
Current lifetime: Born September 30, 1971 in Los Angeles (age 44)
Most famous for: Dharma
Joined Scientology: Recruited by her husband Bodhi Elfman, whom she married in 1995
Fun Scientology completion: Anatomy of the Human Mind Congress, 2005
Jenna shattering suppression: “What crimes have you committed? Have you raped a baby?”
“She’s so hard. She’s never getting out. She seems so negative now, and at events she comes off like she’s irritated. Something’s going on with her, but I have no clue what it would be.”
Current lifetime: Born March 13, 1976 in Long Island, New York (age 40)
Most famous for: Acting in That 70s Show (1998-2006) and spinning music as DJ Mom Jeans
Joined Scientology: Raised in it by parents Carol and Peter Masterson, and later by Carol’s second husband, Australian Scientologist and rugby league player Joe Reaiche
Fun Scientology completion: ARC Straightwire, 1996
Danny shattering suppression: “In Scientology, there’s no belief system or anyone who’s worshipped or whatnot; it’s all sort of like college of the mind.”
Danny’s actor brothers Chris and Jordan and sister Alanna are all Scientologists. “The entire family is so tight, and they aren’t going anywhere. They’re among the tightest young people who are still in — and the church rides herd on them constantly,” says our source. We asked if Danny’s interview last year in Paper magazine was an indication that the church counts on his support. “Are you kidding? They consider him a superhero for doing that.”
Current lifetime: Born November 2, 1973 in Chicago (age 42)
Most famous for: Various television roles, including a recurring spot on 24 in 2007
Joined Scientology: Circa 1997, after being introduced to it by her chiropractor
Fun Scientology completion: OT 8, 2013
Marisol shattering suppression: “The biggest success I have had in Scientology can be summed up in the following statement: It makes me a better person.”
“She’s never getting out. She’s married to cinematographer Taron Lexton, and his mother is Mary Shuttleworth, who founded the Scientology front group Youth For Human Rights,” our source points out. We noted that Marisol, along with Nancy Cartwright and Kirstie Alley, all finished up OT 7 around the same time. Marisol and Nancy went on to finish OT 8 quickly, too. Was there something to them getting those done when they did? “I think they allowed them to finish OT 7 as proof that the new ‘Golden Age of Technology Phase II’ works. The church needed it. They can steer them however they want, and at this point, they wanted to get people through it to serve as examples to the rest.”
Current lifetime: Born March 7, 1980 in New Jersey (age 36)
Most famous for: Roles in That 70s Show (1998-2006) and Orange is the New Black (2013-present)
Joined Scientology: In 1999, at the time she was working with That 70s Show colleague Danny Masterson
Fun Scientology completion: The Route to Infinity, 2005
Laura shattering suppression: “When I have huge wins in session, and when you really cognite that you are a thetan and you have a mind and body, and that the MEST universe does not control you — it puts things into perspective.”
“She’s so in the sway of the Mastersons, and that family is so tight and stuck inside Scientology,” says our source. We asked him about the mini-controversy of Laura playing a lesbian character on Orange is the New Black. We didn’t think it was really an issue for Scientology — despite the organization’s legendary homophobia, the number one rule in Scientology is always that celebrities can break all the rules. Laura spoke out at one point, denying that Scientology is homophobic. “In Scientology, she’s seen as a hero for that,” our source says.
Current lifetime: Born October 13, 1962 in Honolulu (age 53)
Most famous for: Many acting roles, but best known for being married to John Travolta
Joined Scientology: Late 1980s, through her acting coach, Milton Katselas
Fun Scientology completion: OT 7, 2014
Kelly shattering suppression: “Life is at my fingertips and with Scientology I’ve found I can have or be whatever I want. ”
“She’s so invested in it, and they’re royalty. Both Kelly and John are really nice people, but they’re so invested in it. The death of their son Jett in 2009 was really tough on both of them. I think dealing with that death was the closest they came to being actual human beings. But the church was right there to make sure they were controlled and got a lot of auditing. They both felt that it saved them. So they’re more committed than ever.”
Current lifetime: Born May 25, 1976 in New York City (age 40)
Most famous for: Roles in Kevin Smith films and as Jason Lee’s sidekick in My Name is Earl
Joined Scientology: In the early 1990s, through the Ribisi clan
Fun Scientology completion: Grade 2 Expanded, 2006
Ethan shattering suppression: “If I want something I can just go and get it. And I know with certainty that I want the right thing and I’m not going to mess myself up in the process of going after what I want. And that’s amazing.”
“Ethan is a laid back guy, but he’s married to someone who is so hardcore, Juliette Lewis’s sister Brandy. And even though Ethan’s friendship to Jason was so important to him, in Scientology it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ What he’s hearing from OT 8s right now is things like ‘Well, I never really had a good feeling about Jason’.”
Current lifetime: Born February 18, 1954 in New Jersey (age 62)
Most famous for: Being your creepy uncle on the Oscars broadcast
Joined Scientology: In 1975, after reading Dianetics while filming his first movie, The Devil’s Rain
Fun Scientology completion: Life Repair, 1975
John shattering suppression: “Sometimes when something really works well it becomes a target.”
“When he got the Tarantino movie, I think someone had been working with John on an admin scale to help him work his career out,” our source says, referring to an L. Ron Hubbard concept about how to organize work. “So he’s been convinced that his successes have come from L. Ron Hubbard, and he keeps himself in a bubble. He’s convinced that every time his career has had some big success, it’s because he was using some kind of Scientology. And that’s a really hard mindset to get out of.” We told our source that we felt the same way about Travolta, and that for a long time we’ve discounted the “blackmail” theory that so many people seem to ascribe to. They believe that if John left, Scientology would spill secrets about his sex life and his reputed preference for men. But after the lawsuits from massage therapists in recent years, what more is there to know? We think the blackmail angle is overblown, and our source agreed. “The blackmail thing? No. That’s not what keeps him in. Nobody cares. If he was open about his sex life, no one, even in Hollywood, would care. The blackmail thing is not a real issue. Blackmail would only make him resentful, and he’s not resentful. He’s just convinced that every success he’s had comes from Scientology, and it’s the positive things he believes he’s gotten from it that keep him from believing any criticism of it.”
Current lifetime: Born June 11, 1954 in Wisconsin (age 62)
Most famous for: Quitting Fox News in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s sex harassment lawsuit
Joined Scientology: Late 1980s, probably through her husband, retired attorney John Coale
Fun Scientology completion: OT 4, 1994
Greta shattering suppression: (Greta never says anything about Scientology publicly.)
“She’s a mystery. I’ve only rarely seen her around the Celebrity Centre. But she’s decided that Scientology helped her with something in her life, and she’s dedicated to it. With her background in news, she’s privy to stuff that other Scientologists don’t see or hear. But she has adopted the them-against-us mentality, which is reinforced by how few other journalists there are in the church. It will be interesting to see where she lands after leaving Fox News, but she’s not about to leave Scientology.”
Steve Cannane on the radio Down Under
Fair Game author Steve Cannane has returned to Australia in a trip to support his new book, and he sat down for a lengthy interview with ABC radio there.
Your proprietor on Reddit this Thursday
To mark the occasion of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely being released in audiobook form this week, on Thursday we’ll be subjecting ourselves to an AMA at Reddit’s Scientology board.
You’ll have a chance to “Ask Me Anything” from noon to 2 pm, Eastern time, on Thursday, September 29.
For some idea of how it might go, you might look at the AMA that Chris Shelton engaged in earlier his year.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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