Over the past seven years, nobody has done more to expose Scientology than Leah Remini. Her 2015 memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, gave readers an inside look into the newfangled religion’s methods of indoctrination, punishment, and retaliation—including being reprimanded by leader David Miscavige for questioning the behavior of Scientology’s most famous member, Tom Cruise.
On the heels of her Emmy-winning A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which was co-hosted by former Scientology spokesman and senior executive Mike Rinder, the two have re-teamed for Scientology: Fair Game, a new podcast focusing on the faith’s alleged “Fair Game” practice, wherein its minions do everything in their power to intimidate its critics into silence.
“We’ve always wanted to follow up on stories. The abuses and criminal behavior never end with Scientology,” says Remini.
And Hollywood has, at least historically, been complicit in Scientology’s spread—including entertaining Cruise’s proselytizing, as when Steven Spielberg infamously allowed the megastar to have a Scientology conversion tent on the set of his 2005 film War of the Worlds.
“Maybe 10, 15 years ago, Hollywood was very complicit—and that had a lot to do with the influence Tom Cruise had,” explains Rinder. “He had a lot of influence through CAA, his production deals, Paramount, his lawyers, everything. People did not want to get on the bad side of Tom. Nowadays, that’s changed pretty dramatically. His luster has been dimmed and he’s no longer the world’s leading superstar. He still makes a ton of money from the Mission: Impossible franchise but other than that is pretty irrelevant. And we’re now even seeing his former leading ladies come out against him.”
In a brilliant interview with New York magazine’s E. Alex Jung, the actress Thandie Newton came forward to share her strange run-ins with Cruise during and around the filming of Mission: Impossible 2, from manifesting a zit on his face to his not-so-subtle attempts at recruitment.
“He was very generous and open about sharing Scientological stuff. Christmas gifts would be something to do with Scientology,” Newton recalled. “Like a book with the greatest hits of Scientology, a bit like a Bible kind of thing. I was curious, because it’s like, Wow, if it’s going to attract people, powerful, high-profile people, there’s got to be some glue that sticks this shit together. Didn’t find any.”
Remini also commends Newton for her courage in speaking out against Cruise.
“That takes huge balls to do what she did, and if more people speak out in that way, and be brave enough to do so, I think we might get somewhere,” says Remini. “Tom has gotten away with being this ‘nice guy,’ because that’s what Scientology policy says—to create good PR in the world and make those ‘good actions’ known. But if you actually look at his actions, they’re not consistent.
“When I was in Scientology I got in trouble in Scientology for saying, ‘Why is this guy the poster child for Scientology? He can’t keep a fuckin’ marriage together, he’s jumping on couches, he’s acting like he knows anything about postpartum.’ I learned pretty quickly that that’s not something you should be doing, because Tom Cruise is considered a messiah in Scientology. This is a man who has not even seen his own daughter in years. That this guy can be running around and having people think he’s this super-nice guy, I don’t get it. But that’s the Hollywood-bullshit game people play.” (Cruise and the Church of Scientology did not respond to requests for comment.)
In the past, Remini has alleged to The Daily Beast that Cruise is not only “privy to the punishments that David Miscavige doles out” but has even “been part of it.”
“I think that [Newton] speaking out about what we all know Tom to be is not news to people who are or were Scientologists, who know the truth. Because he is not a nice person,” maintains Remini. “There was a time when Tom was a very nice person, but that was before he rededicated himself to David Miscavige [in the aughts], and there was a complete turn-around.”
Both Rinder and Remini claim that “the view of Scientology in Hollywood these days is not positive.” For proof of that, they point to their 2017 Emmy win for Aftermath—a moment they say they’ll never forget.
“We thought we wouldn’t get any validation from this town because we thought they would be scared to vote for a show that was exposing Scientology, so it was such huge validation to those people who told their stories,” says Remini. “It was Hollywood saying: We see you, and we back you. It was so… I can’t tell you how much I cried.”
She pauses and, in true Remini fashion, adds, “It was nice to see Hollywood waking up from being such pussies.”