Paul Haggis: Yes, Nazanin Boniadi Was Audited to Date Tom Cruise
In an excerpt from Vanity Fair's October cover story, special correspondent Maureen Orth describes how high-ranking Scientology officials were tasked with finding a suitable partner for Tom Cruise in 2004.
According to Orth's sources, officials settled on Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born, London-raised actress. The two dated from November 2004 to January 2005. (Scientology representatives deny any search took place and dismissed the article's sources as disgruntled apostates.)
On September 2, Oscar-winning filmmaker and former Scientologist Paul Haggis wrote an e-mail to Showbiz 411 confirming the auditing took place. According to Vanity Fair, Boniadi, 32, was audited every day in October 2004 and was allegedly "told to lose her braces, her red highlights and her boyfriend" before meeting Cruise the following month in New York City.
Though Boniadi did eventually fall in love with Cruise, 50, the actor's frequent public displays of affection and intense adoration became too much to bear, Orth's sources claim. Following a series of incidents with high-ranking Scientology officials, Boniadi's relationship with Cruise reached a turning point. She was eventually forced to leave Cruise's home, where she lived, and move into Scientology's Celebrity Centre. She was later transferred to another Scientology center in Florida.
"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," Haggis wrote. "Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. 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," Haggis, 59, added.
Credit: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci
Haggis went on to explain his own reasons for leaving Scientology and said he empathizes with Boniadi. "In Naz's case, she has no right to feel ashamed. She is not only a terrific actress at the beginning of a very promising career, she is a dedicated human rights activist and a truly lovely and caring person," he said. "The last thing she wanted or needed is this kind of publicity, but here it is, and I am sure she will deal with it with the same grace and dignity she exudes in her daily life."
Haggis added that "Naz quietly and privately resigned from the church a couple of years ago after several years of trying to handle this injustice internally, to no avail."