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‘Going Clear’: Jason Beghe, the actor who left Scientology and made a stink about it


Here’s a screenshot of Jason Beghe from Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear, which airs on HBO in nine more days, on March 29.

Beghe is one of eight former members of the Church of Scientology who make up the main subjects of Gibney’s film. Our longtime readers know that we’ve been writing about Jason for a long time, since he made his very visible protest against Scientology in 2008, having left the organization a few months earlier.

In the movie, there’s a reference to the full two-hour 2008 video of Jason Beghe that Mark Bunker filmed and put on YouTube. But actually, what happened was that Bunker first posted a three or four minute teaser that, on its own, went viral. The next day, we got a call from Tory Christman.

We hadn’t heard from Tory in years, but we both still remembered fondly the time we spent putting together a story about her defection from Scientology which came out in 2001. She asked if we had seen the Beghe video, and explained that she had had a hand in it, and that a longer version was coming. And then she asked the question: “How would you like the first press interview with Jason?”

Oh, you bet. And even better: After talking to Beghe and getting to know him for that initial story, he told us he’d be coming to New York to tape a segment for 20/20 about Scientology, and we made plans to get together.


Like yesterday, we remember meeting him at the Blue Water Grill at Union Square while he told us what it was like to be quizzed for a couple of hours on camera by Elizabeth Vargas. He said it was comprehensive and explosive. He was amped.

And none of it aired.

It wouldn’t be the last time 20/20 got great material on Scientology that it then canned rather than air. But ABC’s indecision wasn’t going to slow Beghe down. After we talked for hours, he said he was heading down to DC the next day to see his parents, and he asked if we wanted to come along and talk more. We sure did. We spent the next day on the train, talking even more about what he’d been through as a celebrity in Scientology. And now, he wanted to find out what had happened to other people who had left. After visiting his parents, he then went on a cross-country trip, checking in with some legendary names in Scientology, people who had defected or been expelled, and learning what had happened to them. He knew that Marty Rathbun had left several years earlier, and no one seemed to know where he was. And we had just heard at that time that Mike Rinder, the former church spokesman, had also “blown.”

Beghe became determined to track them all down to find out what seemed to be driving away former high-ranking members. And, as Going Clear indicates, Beghe was one of the first people to track down Marty Rathbun, along with Amy Scobee and Mat Pesch, and started talking to Rathbun about re-emerging and doing something about Scientology’s internal turmoil.

We think it’s no accident that the epic St. Petersburg Times series came out just a year later, after Beghe had crossed the country to get former Scientologists motivated to talk publicly about what was going on. We don’t know that Beghe has ever received proper credit for how much things have changed in the last six years because he made that effort.

And he paid a steep price. Beghe was subjected to a harsh “Fair Game” campaign by Scientology, one that threatened his livelihood, and worse. Eventually, he managed to extricate himself from the legal part of that nightmare, and gradually, his career began to pick up steam. He became a recurring character on Californication, the series that starred his great childhood friend, David Duchovny. And then Dick Wolf made Beghe a key part of his major NBC series, Chicago Fire, which led to a spinoff centered around Beghe’s character, Chicago PD.

Now, he’s a major part of Going Clear, and certainly one of the most memorable. His descriptions of what it’s like to suffer through Scientology processing that he didn’t want is hilarious and troubling at the same time.

Let us know what you think about Jason’s parts in the movie, and how it fit into the narrative that Alex Gibney constructs in his film.


Hollywood Arclight getting some late enturbulation

A tipster passed on to us a couple of communications from someone who works in the massive call center that handles calls for the Hollywood Arclight theater.

Alex Gibney’s documentary ‘Going Clear’ opened at the theater a week ago, but it’s apparently only in the last few days that an onslaught of calls have come in from locals who claim that they’re outraged about the theater showing the movie, and threaten to boycott the Arclight because of it.

This is classic Scientology behavior. Too late for it to have any real effect, someone at the church noticed what was going on and an “all hands on deck” order was put out to get people making calls. It’s so Scientology.

Then, yesterday, our tipster received this text message from their friend at the call center:

Ohhh My God. I’m in call center at Arclight and on the caller ID “Church of Scientology” shows up. And I answer and the woman is asking to speak with one of our administrators who helps decide which movies we show at arclight. And I was like no one is in right now, can I help you with something? And she said “it’s… About… An… Issue… We have. With arclight. I’m not going to say anything else.” Super mean. And eventually I just told her to email our management team. It’s scary because she’s clearly trying to get us to stop showing that movie Just like the movie says.. If someone speaks out against their religion they attack that person or group and that’s what they r trying to do to this guy at arclight! Scary as fuck!!!


Going Clear begins its second weekend at the Arclight tonight, extending past the time required for Oscar consideration. You still have time to see it on the big screen before it airs on HBO on March 29.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 20, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

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