HBO's adaptation of Lawrence Wright's Church of Scientology exposé Going Clear made its Sundance debut yesterday, reportedly to a floored audience. Beyond explaining the convoluted history of the faith, Alex Gibney's documentary also takes aim at the celebrities caught in the church's quarrelsome whirlwind.
According to the testimony of Marty Rathbun, formerly the second-highest ranking official in the Church of Scientology who left in 2004, Scientology head David Miscavige was suspicious of Cruise's second wife, whose father was a renowned psychologist in his native Australia. Scientology is vehemently opposed to psychiatry and psychology, and Rathbun claims that because of Kidman's father, she was labeled a "Potential Trouble Source" (PTS), defined by the Church of Scientology as "a person who is in some way connected to and being adversely affected by a suppressive person."
Kidman was apparently successful at keeping Cruise from the church from 1992 to 2001, with Cruise even ignoring calls from church honcho David Miscavige. Those years of isolation is apparently what led Miscavige to assign Rathbun to break the couple up.
Rathbun alleges in the film that the Church of Scientology then waged an aggressive campaign to get Cruise to dump Kidman, including having a private investigator wiretap her phone—at Cruise's apparent suggestion, according to Rathbun—and sending the tapes to Miscavige. The Church of Scientology also began "auditing" Cruise around the clock, according to the film, aggressively psychoanalyzing him and gathering personal information. The information was then allegedly sent to Miscavige, whom Rathbun claims blasted Cruise for his "perverted" sexual fetishes.
Furthermore, Rathbun says the Church of Scientology "re-educated" Cruise's adopted children with Kidman, Connor and Isabella, into turning against their mother so that Cruise could retain custody.
But the Church has also gone to great lengths to placate Cruise, "including installing all the audiovisual equipment in his home, purchasing him limousines and airplanes, and once even having its members design a meadow for Cruise and Kidman to run through—an alleged fantasy of Cruise's." (What?)
Travolta, it's suggested, is kept in the group because they have mountains and mountains of dirt on him, the result of years of spiritual "auditing" (the process by which Scientologists basically reveal their deepest secrets, which are then cataloged and brought out whenever someone needs some, uh, encouragement, as the Mafia likes to say).
The documentary is set to air on HBO in March.
[Image via Getty]