While Tom Cruise is rebuffing reports Scientology organised a wife hunt for him, Oscar winning Crash writer-director Paul Haggis has confirmed the story.
According to a report in the October issue of US magazine Vanity Fair, the organisation in 2004 started a top-secret project to find Cruise a wife, led by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige.
Haggis, who was a Scientology devotee for 35 years, has worked on Hollywood blockbusters like Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royal and Crash, for which he received the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Writing for his work on the screenplay.
He exited Scientolgy in 2009 and had his journey chronicled in the New Yorker magazine. In a recent email to Showbiz411 the director confirmed the Cruise hunt-a-wife story and expressed his disgust with the way Scientology was treating its members.
According to Vanity Fair, Nazanin Boniadi - an Iranian-born, London-raised actress and Scientologist - was picked after an elaborate month-long auditioning process and dated Cruise from November 2004 until January 2005.
The report says after two months Cruise had Scientology officials dump her because she "disrespected" a fast-speaking Miscavige by saying "Excuse me?" when she had problems understanding him.
When Boniadi eventually opened up to friend about her failed relationship with Cruise, which she had been forbidden to reveal, her 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 Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard's Dianetics on street corners".
Haggis said in his email he has known Boniadi for about three years.
"I met her through a mutual friend when I was doing my own personal research into the allegations against Scientology, before I wrote my letter of resignation."
He said the actress had been embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in the incident and didn't want any publicity so he kept quiet.
"However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done.
"It wasn't just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting," he wrote.
Haggis said he had met a number of people who had been "treated shamefully" but were afraid to speak out.
He said the majority were ordinary people who lived in "fear of retribution, legal, financial or personal, even some famous ones."
"I'm appalled that any church would treat its parishioners this way, but Naz has never cast herself as a victim. She is strong and resilient and I am very proud to call her a friend," he said.
Representatives for Tom Cruise have dismissed the report.
"Lies in a different font are still lies - designed to sell magazines," Cruise's representatives told Radar Online.
- © Fairfax NZ News