Update: After screening at Sundance, Going Clear premiered on HBO on Sunday, March 29.
3 stars (out of 4)
That’s just one of the bombshells revealed in the controversial and riveting new documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. It premiered Sunday, January 25 at the Sundance Film Festival — and it’s already been renounced by the litigious-happy organization.
It doesn’t take a Thetan-level 8 to see why. For two hours, a slew of high-profile former members — including Crash writer/director Paul Haggis — take aim at the church founded by eccentric author L. Ron Hubbard in the 1953. (His chief belief: Discharging emotion and removing the evil aliens from within will lead to spiritual satisfaction.) Their vivid recollections chill to the bone, as they describe physical abuse, blackmail and children taken from their mothers. “I regret the entire experience,” laments one ex-high-ranking officer.
But Tom Cruise is the real star here. Described by one as “The Guy,” the actor appears in event footage praising church head David Miscavige and singing and dancing at a Scientology-sponsored birthday party. But fans will likely be disturbed to learn what’s behind that gleaming, 1,000-watt smile.
As former members tell it, the trouble started after he fell in love with Kidman on the set of 1990’s Days of Thunder. Because her father was a psychiatrist (the church doesn’t believe in the profession), Kidman was seen as an enemy. In Scientology terms, she was labeled a P.T.S. (Potential Trouble Source.) Indeed she was. Cruise “drifted” from the church during the marriage. He was unreachable on the set of the couple’s joint thriller, 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut.
What happened next plays out, well, like a movie. Desperate to get the ambassador back, Miscaviage enacted a plan to “facilitate the break-up.” Step 1: Send officials to “audit” Cruise’s mental state and stir-up his paranoia. Soon, says one member, Cruise requested a wire-tap on Kidman’s phone because he was concerned that she was confiding in non-church members about their problems. (Miscavige’s purported response: “Get it done.”) Members also persuaded the couple’s kids, Isabella and Connor, to turn against their mom to ensure that Cruise would get full custody. By 2001, the nearly 11-year marriage was over. Find out more about why Scientologists allegedly wanted to break up Cruise's marriage.
Cruise and Kidman, as well as all current Scientology members, both declined interview requests to appear in the film.
Nonetheless, the information is damning. And because so many people were willing to go on the record, people now have their eyes wide open.