In the October issue, Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth reports that in 2004 Scientology embarked on a top-secret project headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, which involved finding a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Marc Headley, a Scientologist from age seven, who says he watched a number of the audition videotapes when he was head of Scientology’s in-house studio, tells Orth, “It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology.” Both Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz ran afoul of Scientology and David Miscavige, according to another former Scientologist. “You can’t do anything to displease Scientology, because Tom Cruise will freak out,” Headley says. (Scientology representatives deny that any such search took place and have dismissed several of the story’s sources as disgruntled apostates. David Miscavige and Tom Cruise declined to be interviewed.)
According to Orth, Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born, London-raised actress and Scientologist, was selected and dated Cruise from November 2004 until January 2005. Initially she was told only that she had been selected for a very important mission. In a month-long preparation in October 2004, she was audited every day, a process in which she told a high-ranking Scientology official her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life. Boniadi allegedly was told to lose her braces, her red highlights, and her boyfriend. According to a knowledgeable source, she was shown confidential auditing files of her boyfriend to expedite a breakup. (Scientology denies any misuse of confidential material.) The source says Boniadi signed a confidentiality agreement and was told that if she “messed up” in any way she would be declared a Suppressive Person (a pariah and enemy of Scientology).
Orth reports that in November 2004 Boniadi was flown to New York, where she met Cruise. That’s when she first sensed that this was possibly going to be an arranged marriage. For their first date Cruise and Boniadi went to dinner at Nobu with an entourage of Scientology aides, then to the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, which was closed to the public especially for them. The two spent that first night together but, according to several sources, they did not have sex. At the Trump Tower, where Cruise and the entourage had rented an entire floor, Cruise purportedly told Boniadi, “I’ve never felt this way before.” She was given a second confidentiality agreement specifically about Cruise to sign. Boniadi could tell her worried parents (her mother was also formerly a Scientologist) only that she was in New York on a special Scientology project.
Though the first month of the relationship was bliss, by the second month Boniadi was more and more often found wanting, Orth reports. According to the knowledgeable source, anything she said or did that Cruise found fault with he immediately reported to a member of the Scientology staff, and she would be audited for it. This began with her very first words to him, “Very well done,” regarding his receiving Scientology’s Freedom Medal of Valor. The phrase implied that Cruise was her junior. According to the knowledgeable source, Boniadi also offended Scientology chief David Miscavige, who speaks rapidly, because she kept saying, “Excuse me?” when she was entertaining him and his wife during a visit to Telluride. In Scientology, the ability to have your communication “land” is crucial. Boniadi was excoriated by Cruise for disrespecting Miscavige. (A representative for Miscavige told Vanity Fair, “Mr. Miscavige doesn’t remember any girlfriend of anyone, in his entire life, insulting him.”)
According to Orth, Boniadi was in love with Cruise, but the intensity of his affection, especially his predilection for public displays, overwhelmed her. “I get more love from an extra than I get from you,” the actor reportedly complained. Every day Boniadi spent two to three hours purging herself of “negative thoughts about Tom.” She felt completely shut off; her only source of money was a credit card issued in the name of Cruise’s production company.
Following the alleged episode with Miscavige, Cruise barely acknowledged Boniadi, though she had moved into his house and they shared a bedroom. By the third week in January, she was asked to move into Scientology’s Celebrity Centre. Boniadi was told that Cruise “wants someone with her own power—like Nicole.” When she asked why Cruise would not break up with her himself, she was told he was not to be disturbed. A Scientology official allegedly told her, by way of explanation, “Naz, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
When a friend at a Scientology center in Florida, where Boniadi was subsequently sent, asked why she was crying all the time, Boniadi broke down and told her about her relationship with Cruise, which she had been forbidden to do. According to the knowledgeable source, the friend reported her. Boniadi’s punishment was to scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. After that she was sent out to sell Scentology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics on street corners. Boniadi and her mother are no longer involved in Scientology.
(A Scientology spokesperson responds: “The Church does not punish people, especially in [that] manner.”)
Orth also reveals:
- According to several sources, Scientology made secret videotapes of Tom Cruise’s audits. (Scientology denies that Cruise’s audits were ever taped.)
- David Miscavige’s alleged indiscretions with audit reports of high-profile Scientologists. (Scientology representatives insist that Miscavige has always “rigorously upheld the sanctity and confidentiality of ministerial communications.”)
- Katie Holmes’s pre-nuptial agreement with Cruise, negotiated by her father, Martin, a divorce lawyer, reportedly filled five Bankers Boxes.
- Martin Holmes’s concerns about keeping his daughter from Scientology’s clutches before Suri was born.
- Why Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s children, Bella and Connor, were estranged from their mother.