Oscar-winning filmmaker and outspoken former Scientologist Paul Haggis called out journalists in a new interview with The Daily Beast on Sunday, Aug. 23, for avoiding Scientology questions with Tom Cruise.
Haggis, 62, the award-winning screenwriter behind Million Dollar Baby and Crash, defected from the Church of Scientology in 2009 after 35 years as a member — and has since become one of its biggest opponents. The director behind HBO's new miniseries Show Me a Hero called out Cruise's recent box office triumphs, despite the massive success of the anti-Scientology documentary Going Clear, which premiered this past March.
"We forgive anybody anything if they’re a movie star, I guess!" Haggis said.
In fact, while Cruise was promoting his film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the actor was not asked to address the scathing documentary or his religion. One of the biggest bombshells from the documentary was Scientology leader David Miscavige's alleged direct involvement in Cruise's breakup from his ex-wife Nicole Kidman, who was pinned as a P.T.S. (Potential Trouble Source).
"That’s not his fault," Haggis said of the 53-year-old A-lister's silence about the church. "His PR people are very smart."
Instead, Haggis focused his scrutiny on reporters. "I don’t know how journalists can continue to call themselves journalists if they aren’t brave enough to ask a question," the Oscar winner shared. "I mean, how big does the elephant in the room have to be before you ask about it?"
The Daily Beast noted how media outlets are reportedly told to avoid all questions about Scientology prior to a one-on-one with Cruise.
"Yeah, because then they can’t get the interview," Haggis noted. "Well, fine, but there are things called journalistic integrity, and there are things more important than promoting a movie sometimes. It was so glaringly obvious. There was this huge elephant there, and every journalist agreed not to address it. Why? You’re just a PR person at that point. Shame on you."
A statement to Us Weekly from the church condemned Going Clear, calling the allegations within it "categorically false and stale." The church further claimed that documentary creator Alex Gibney refused to meet with its members.
"The Church works to help people," the statement read. "We spend every waking minute working to get people off drugs and assist them to lead healthier, happier, and more productive lives."
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