Tom Cruise is not a good actor, but a great one. He’s charmed our (and his own) pants off in Risky Business, made an oiled-up volleyball match seem sorta macho in Top Gun, and was robbed of an Oscar for his wacky turn as a “Respect the Cock”-preaching MRM guru in Magnolia.And for years, the now-52-year-old actor was able to shield the public and press from his deep ties to the Church of Scientology and its controversial leader, David Miscavige, who served as Cruise’s best man in his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.That Scientology shield was dented on June 23, 2005, when Cruise went mano a mano with Matt Lauer on the Today show over prescription meds, and pierced when, in 2008, a wacky promotional Scientology video featuring the actor—and set to the Mission: Impossible theme, no less—found its way online. But following the release of Alex Gibney’s eye-opening documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which is based on the tome by Lawrence Wright, the cat—or rather, Xenu—is officially out of the bag.
Going Clear, which premiered to mammoth ratings on HBO, mounts a devastating case against Cruise, including allegations that he’s a highly influential figure within the Church of Scientology, is aware of their questionable practices, and was pressured by Miscavige’s minions into splitting from his second wife, Nicole Kidman, who, as the daughter of a renowned Australian psychologist and a Catholic (two big Scientology no-no’s), had purportedly been branded a “Potential Trouble Source” (PTS), defined by the Church of Scientology as “a person who is in some way connected to and being adversely affected by a suppressive person.”
The documentary also spends a great deal of time exploring the alleged close bond between Cruise and Miscavige. According to the film, Cruise had distanced himself from the church during the latter part of his marriage to Kidman, and wasn’t returning Miscavige’s phone calls during the filming of Eyes Wide Shut. Then, the film alleges, Miscavige made a concerted effort to bring Cruise back in to Scientology, which included having the A-list star be audited around the clock by Scientology exec Marty Rathbun, who says in the film, “I was to facilitate the breakup with Nicole Kidman.”
One of the subjects of Going Clear is Tom DeVocht, an ex-Scientologist who left the church in 2005, and who backed some of the claims Rathbun makes in the film in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“Marty Rathbun had been auditing Tom Cruise every day at the Celebrity Center in Hollywood and we’d be getting the reports,” DeVocht says. “It was high-priority for Miscavige, and we would get the detailed reports and sit around in the officer’s lounge with a bottle of Scotch and read these reports—often out loud—of what was going on with Cruise.”“Miscavige would read the reports to me and talk shit about Cruise,” adds DeVocht. “I’ve been asked about the reports, but I won’t say what was in them. It had to do with his sex life, financials, and things like that. All private stuff that you should be able to keep secret.”
The now-50-year-old DeVocht says he first got involved with Scientology at the age of 10. “Strangely enough, it was through the Steve Miller Band,” he tells The Daily Beast.
According to DeVocht, his cousin Dickie Thompson, who played the organ in the music group, came to visit his family in Central Florida and said he was involved in the Church of Scientology. “First my sister went, then my brother went, then my mom went, and then by 1977, I’d signed a billion-year contract at the age of 12.”
DeVocht says he worked his way up the Scientology ladder, serving as a member of the Commodore Messenger’s Organization (CMO), which he describes as the “internal police” unit of Sea Org, the church’s clergy. “These are people that reported directly to L. Ron Hubbard about management decisions within the organization,” he says, though DeVocht never got to meet the religion’s architect. DeVocht eventually worked his way up to officer status within Sea Org, and dealt closely with Miscavige.
“In 2001, I started working more directly with David Miscavige than ever, and that’s when things started really going off the rails,” he says. “David and his wife, Shelly, extracted me and said, ‘Please go finish our building for us.’” That building, he says, was called “Building 50” and was to serve as the headquarters of the Religious Technology Center, Scientology’s central hub—of which Miscavige serves as chairman of the board. DeVocht says he was granted $2.7 million to finish construction on the 40,000-square-foot building that stood on the religion’s International Base outside of Hemet, California.
“It became apparent pretty rapidly that part of the whole reason he’s doing this extraordinarily custom-made building—with bulletproof windows and beautiful stone—was to impress Cruise,” DeVocht says. “Miscavige said Cruise would be hanging out with him in the new lounge, and would even have his own office. We had a detailed conversation about what Miscavige would like to hang up and down the walls of the main wing, which was to be Miscavige’s wing. Would it be pictures of Hubbard? Or would Tom take that the wrong way, and should Miscavige put up scuba-diving pictures of himself instead? A big part of his thought process surrounding the building was how he was going to impress Cruise.”
Through his close dealings and time spent with Miscavige, DeVocht claims, he was able to witness Miscavige and Cruise’s relationship unfold firsthand.
“They’re two peas in a pod,” DeVocht says of Cruise and Miscavige. “They’re very similar characters—both rather absorbed by themselves, and intensely so. You don’t want to look at ’em wrong, say anything wrong, and you definitely don’t want to better them in any way. You had to be very careful around them. I got the impression that Miscavige really liked Cruise, and he’d constantly say that they’re good friends.”
DeVocht claims that he attended the premiere of Tom Cruise’s film Vanilla Sky with Miscavige back in December 2001. Cruise’s co-star and then-girlfriend Penelope Cruz was there as well.
“I went to the premiere of Vanilla Sky with Miscavige, and it was the first time he and Tom had seen each other in a while,” says DeVocht. “We ended up in a garage down below [the premiere], and Cruise is showing off his new custom-made SUV, and Penelope Cruz is there. Their car pulls out, and immediately Miscavige turns to me and goes, ‘What a punk! My SUV is way better than his,’ and went on a rant about what a ‘punk’ Tom is. It’s not something you’d expect from a friend.”DeVocht adds, “He then looked at me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Penelope Cruz has got to go. She’s too Catholic, and she looked at me funny.’”
The ex-Scientologist also describes a conversation he allegedly had with Miscavige wherein the chairman of the board told him he wanted to make Cruise, who was awarded the church’s Freedom Medal of Valor in 2004, their inspector general—a position then held by Rathbun.“Miscavige explained to me in the U.K. headquarters that he was going to make Tom Cruise the inspector general for the church, which was Marty Rathbun’s position,” DeVocht says. “But he clarified that it’s not that Tom could run the church—he’s not capable of that, he said—but that Tom is an ‘excellent actor, so I could tell him what to do or say, and he would carry it out, and people would listen to him, and that’s all I need. I just need people to do exactly what I say, and act how I want them to act. I’m dead serious about this,’ he told me.”
One of the biggest mysteries when it comes to Scientology is the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige who hasn’t been seen publicly since 2007. Shelly’s former pal Leah Remini, the King of Queens actress who defected from Scientology in 2013, even filed a missing person’s report for Shelly that same year, leading to an LAPD welfare check. The cops say they were able to make contact with her and she was doing OK.
“Shelly finally tried to put a stop to the Cruise relationship—or at least slow it down,” says DeVocht. Shelly had rearranged the schedule so that they didn’t meet up, and basically was trying to tell David Miscavige to slow down the relationship and that the church had bigger fish to fry. And it was a week later that Shelly disappeared.” DeVocht says he left Scientology on May 9, 2005, after he caught wind of “an urgent conference” about him. “A guy named Greg Hughes pulled me aside and said, ‘Tom, I want to tell you what that meeting was about. Miscavige pulled a clip from the movie Full Metal Jacket where they beat a guy with pillow cases with soap bars in ’em. Miscavige said this is what needs to happen to you tonight.’ I unscrewed the leg off a chair and was ready for it, but nothing happened.” The following day, he says, Miscavige called another conference, which DeVocht attended, and read his Suppressive Person Declare, which claimed that DeVocht had overspent on a building—a claim DeVocht adamantly denies.“I said, ‘Fine. I’m done. I’m leaving.’” And left. “I was handed $300 for my 28 years,” says DeVocht.
When reached for comment, the Church of Scientology’s spokesman said, “Each of these allegations are false and absurd,” and branded DeVocht “an inveterate, self-admitted liar” and “former construction supervisor in the Church who remains bitter at having been removed in disgrace and expelled a decade ago for extreme financial misconduct that cost the Church millions of dollars.” They also called Gibney’s film a “UVA redux” and directed me to the Church of Scientology’s Freedom Magazine website to watch its anti-DeVocht videos.
“Miscavige is only interested in himself, and how he looks on a day-to-day basis,” says DeVocht. “And the money. It has nothing to do with the church itself, and you can see that in his entire operation. It’s all about buying great-looking buildings that are empty, but who cares.”