A new film claims the Church of Scientology ended Nicole Kidman's marriage to Tom Cruise using intimidation tactics.
The documentary Going Clear premiered at the Sundance Film Festival featuring testimony from former high-ranking Scientologists.
One of the most shocking claims is that Tom Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige tapped the phone of his then wife Nicole Kidman as part of a Scientology campaign to split the couple.
"To anybody that knows and has been on the inside and is familiar with how these things go it is completely believable... not only is it believable, it's something that you would say 'oh yeah, I’m sure that happened',” said Mike Rinder, who spent time with both stars when he was the global spokesperson for Scientology.
Rinder said Cruise and Travolta can no longer promote an organisation so many claim is abusive and harmful.
“You can't have it both ways, Tom and John,” Rinder said.
"I don't believe that either Tom or John Travolta can ignore this film, they are put on the spot by this film, because they have been so vocal in promoting Scientology."
Ex-senior members of the Church of Scientology claim in the film that Cruise's children, Connor and Isabella, were turned against their mother to ensure Kidman didn't get custody.
“It's a devastating indictment of Scientology, it's emotional and in particular it hits the celebrities very hard,” said Tony Ortega, a journalist featured in the film. Over 20 years, he's documented much of the revelations in the new film.
On Cruise and Travolta, he says, “I think both of them look like they need to come forward and explain themselves, I think it's going to be very hard for either one of them to ignore this film.”
“I knew it was coming but it's still shocking to see it on screen,” Ortega said.
Marc Headley escaped Scientology in 2005. During the 1990's he trained Tom Cruise how to audit, a Scientology exercise aimed getting people to talk about their innermost secrets.
“Tom Cruise audited me when he was married to Nicole Kidman and in the conference room in the auditing area where he was doing the auditing, Nicole was actually in there for all of the times that he audited me, she was actually studying in that same room, doing her first Scientology courses,” Headley said.
He says Tom's wife was around... and was unimpressed with Scientology, in part because her father Antony was a clinical psychologist and Scientology claims that psychiatry is evil and mental illness doesn’t exist.
"I know that she had only done a few courses during that time and with both her and Tom, after they were there at that stint in the early 90's, we didn't hear or see from either of them at the international headquarters for almost a decade,”
John Travolta won't leave Scientology, the film claims, because he's worried they'll leak personal confessions about his private life all recorded on audio and/or video.
The film also documents the physical and psychological abuse in Scientology, how it tears apart families, puts children to work and forced women to have abortions.
One section questions why Scientology doesn't pay tax, despite not providing any benefit to the community.
There's been no comment yet from Cruise or Travolta.
"We actually just celebrated our tenth anniversary of leaving Scientology and this week they had private investigators meet us at the airport,” said Headley, who spoke in the film about the way Scientology follows and badgers its critics and former members.
Oscar winning documentary maker Alex Gibney's film was based on the book Going Clear, written by Pulitzer prize-winning author Lawrence Wright.
It also revealed Scientology's claim of 11 million members worldwide is breathtakingly wrong. In fact, there are only about 50,000 members and falling. Here in Australia, there are just 2000 Scientologists.
“Scientology is already in the grips of several different crises and I think the impact of this film could be crippling,” Ortega said.
Going Clear will be available to watch after it premieres on HBO in America next month.
Scientology refused our request for an interview, releasing a statement slamming the film as untrue. The statement itself contains several factual errors and the magazine it links to is the Propaganda arm of the Church of Scientology.
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT
The accusations made in the film are entirely false and alleged without ever asking the Church. As we stated in our New York Times ad on January 16, Alex Gibney's film is Rolling Stone/University of Virginia redux. The Church is committed to free speech. However, free speech is not a free pass to broadcast or publish false information. Despite repeated requests over three months, Mr. Gibney and HBO refused to provide the Church with any of the allegations in the film so it could respond. Had Mr. Gibney given us any of these allegations, he would have been told the facts. But Gibney refused to speak with any of the 25 Church representatives, former spouses and children of their sources who flew to New York to meet and provide him and HBO with firsthand knowledge regarding assertions made in Mr. Wright’s book as that was all we had to guess from. Gibney’s sources are the usual collection of obsessive, disgruntled former Church members kicked out as long as 30 years ago for malfeasance, who have a documented history of making up lies about the Church for money. We invite you to view our complete statement, correspondence and documented facts at freedommag.org/hbo.
Morning news break - January 27