One of the more eyebrow-raising passages in Troublemaker, Leah Remini’s tell-all memoir about her escape from the clutches of Scientology, involves a trio of A-listers: Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Remini recalls a strange night at Cruise’s lavish estate where she (then a Scientologist), along with the Smiths, were asked by Cruise to participate in a game of hide-and-seek. “At first I thought he was joking,” she wrote. “But, no, he literally wanted to play hide-and-seek with a bunch of grown-ups in what was probably close to a 7,000-square-foot house on almost three full acres of secluded land.”
After realizing she was in Jimmy Choo heels, Remini wrote that she declined the offer—which is apparently rare when dealing with a high-ranking Scientologist like Cruise—only to have Cruise approach her, quip, “Well, good. So you’re ‘It,’ then,” and tag her before bolting.
Well, according to Remini, there were three star Scientologists present that evening: herself, Cruise, and Pinkett Smith.
“I know Jada’s in. I know Jada’s in. She’s been in Scientology a long time,” Remini tells The Daily Beast. “I never saw Will [Smith] there, but I saw Jada at the Celebrity Centre. They opened up a Scientology school, and have since closed it. But Jada, I had seen her at the Scientology Celebrity Centre all the time.” (Pinkett Smith did not return multiple requests for comment.)
Remini is referring to the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, California, where star-adherents regularly gather to do Xenu knows what. And the since-shuttered “Scientology school” she mentions is New Village Leadership Academy in the tony neighborhood of Calabasas, California, which was largely funded by the Smith family—who subsequently hired much of the staff, many of whom, including the Director of Learning, were Scientologists. Though the Smiths insisted that their school was secular, it touted “Study Technology” as one of its teaching methodologies on its website, a heavily criticized practice devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Suri Cruise—daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes—attended the school before it shut its doors in 2013. In addition to the school, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who are good friends of Cruise’s, reportedly donated $20,000 to Scientology’s literacy campaign HELP.
And while a former high-ranking Scientologist, Mike Rinder (who co-presents the A&E series with Remini), insisted to me a couple of years back that Will Smith was never a Scientologist, Remini claims that Pinkett Smith not only was a Scientologist, but still is.
“I had hoped that she had left [Scientology], but this was the tell-tale sign that she was still in,” said Remini, nodding to the Cruise hide-and-seek anecdote she shared in her book. “She was on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live a few weeks ago promoting her film [Girls Trip], and Andy [Cohen] said to her, ‘Have you read Leah Remini’s book?’ and he was like, ‘What was that whole thing about playing tag?’ and she said, ‘Oh, she lied.’ He goes, ‘Isn’t that weird, to play tag?’ and she goes, ‘No, the kids were there.’ That was untrue. Bullshit. There were no kids there. I was like, okay, alright, you’re gonna do that? More power to ya.”
As far as Remini’s book goes, the Church of Scientology called it “revisionist history” and, in their typical fashion, released a statement assassinating her character.
The Daily Beast’s full interview with Leah Remini will run next week.