True Story?

Is ‘The Master’ Based on Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard?

Paul Thomas Anderson won’t say. Ex-Sea Org member Marc Headley compares his screenplay to the real thing.

Express Newspapers / Getty Images; The Weinstein Company

With all of the recent news regarding the Church of Scientology, it seems it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about it. When it was first reported that Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, was filming a movie that took place during the 1950s and was about a curious figure who starts a faith-based organization that catches on in America, a lot of folks in Hollywood assumed this was about L. Ron Hubbard and the church he founded.

No one has officially stated that the movie is based on Hubbard or Scientology. But it has been reported that Anderson screened the movie for Tom Cruise, one of Scientology’s most fervent and devout followers. For a movie that is officially not about Scientology, having Cruise screen it, if he indeed did, sure would seem like a curious move.

People want to know: is the film about Scientology and Hubbard or not?

No one from Anderson’s camp will give a definitive answer. And as for Scientology, “No one in the church has seen the film, and we have no comment,” a spokesman told The Daily Beast recently.

I grew up in Scientology and worked at their international Sea Organization headquarters for 15 years. In 2005, I got out, in an escape that involved the local county authorities—I wrote about my experiences in my bestselling book, Blown For Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology.

Who better to investigate this whole Master debate than a former Scientologist? I received Scientology counseling from Tom Cruise himself. I’ve already had private investigators follow me and dig through my garbage—what else could they do?

I managed to get a recent (though not necessarily final) copy of the screenplay for The Master and I’ve spent the last few days going through it, looking for any comparisons between the character Lancaster Dodd (aka “The Master”) and L. Ron Hubbard. After reading the first 10 pages of the 121-page screenplay, I had made my decision.

I can tell you that even if Scientology comes out with a statement that this movie is NOT about L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology, this movie is the biggest fictional middle finger ever flown their way.

In my comparisons, everything I’ve noted as a comparison can be found in materials issued by the Church of Scientology or L. Ron Hubbard. You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to figure this one out.

Of course, these comparisons are based on the screenplay. There are two trailers for The Master out right now and one of them is straight out of this screenplay and the other is not. So we will see what makes it into the film. Unless Anderson’s team rewrote the dialogue for the entire movie, most of these comparisons should be to what you will see in the film when it opens in October.

Whatever the hell this movie’s about, I can’t wait to see it. Maybe I can get onto the red carpet for the opening.

If Katie Holmes needs a date, I am pretty sure my wife might let me go this one time.