The women who tried out for Tom Cruise tell all

In Touch (USA) - - Cover Story -

She had to be per­fect in ev­ery way. She had to be beau­ti­ful. She had to have a great smile. She had to be in­tel­li­gent. She had to have a cer­tain hair color (think dark brunette, like Katie Holmes or Pené­lope Cruz). That’s what the Church of Scien­tol­ogy was look­ing for when it held au­di­tions to find Tom Cruise a new girl­friend who would be­come his wife. And they thought they found her in ac­tress Nazanin Bo­niadi. “[A high-rank­ing Scien­tol­o­gist] was as­signed to groom­ing and prep­ping Nazanin for her ul­ti­mate role of dat­ing Tom,” for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist Karen Press­ley, who worked di­rectly un­der church leader David Mis­cav­ige and was the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of LA’S Celebrity Cen­tre un­til she left the church in 1998, tells In Touch. “They spent ap­prox­i­mately $20,000 at places like Burberry and Ralph Lau­ren to give her a wardrobe that was suit­able.”

De­spite all that ef­fort, Nazanin and Tom didn’t last. “Nazanin lived with Tom for a cou­ple of months, but he ul­ti­mately got her kicked out of the house be­cause of the way she com­mu­ni­cated one day with David,” Karen, who went by Karen Sch­less when she was in the church, ex­clu­sively tells In Touch of the 2004 ro­mance. (Karen learned of Nazanin’s story from friends, and it has also been re­ported by Van­ity Fair.) “She was suf­fer­ing from a headache and kept ask­ing [David] to re­peat what he had just said. Tom was in­fu­ri­ated with her com­mu­ni­ca­tion with David. That threw Tom into a rage.” Scien­tol­ogy ex­pert Tony Ortega tells In Touch that the

church was hunt­ing for the next Mrs. Tom Cruise within the church. “Af­ter Tom’s di­vorce from Ni­cole [Kid­man] and breakup with Pené­lope,” Ortega says, “the church wanted to make sure his next girl­friend and po­ten­tial wife was a Scien­tol­o­gist.” Of course, Nazanin, 37, who went on to have a suc­cess­ful act­ing ca­reer, star­ring on shows such as Home­land, How I Met Your Mother and Scan­dal, wasn’t the first, or last, woman to au­di­tion to be Tom’s love in­ter­est. In Touch spoke with two other can­di­dates, as well as other for­mer Scien­tol­o­gists who are now spilling the church’s deep­est(and cra­zi­est!) se­crets, in­clud­ing how the church caters to Tom’s ev­ery whim, how some mem­bers are sub­jected to ex­treme phys­i­cal duress — and that many sus­pect Tom knows it goes on — and how David is a tyrant and uses Tom to get what he wants. “The truth is fi­nally com­ing out,” says a Scien­tol­ogy source. “And it’s not pretty.” For­mer Scien­tol­o­gist Cathy Schenkel­berg also went through the au­di­tion process. “We didn’t know we were au­di­tion­ing to be Tom Cruise’s girl­friend but we found out af­ter­ward that that’s what it was,” Cathy, who con­verted her ex­pe­ri­ence in the church into a one-woman show, tells In Touch. “The church hires ac­tors in­side the church to do videos to dis­sem­i­nate Scien­tol­ogy to non-scien­tol­o­gists. In 2003, I was called in to au­di­tion for ‘a video.’ The guy run­ning the cam­era asked me, ‘ What do you think of Tom Cruise?’ I was like, ‘I re­ally don’t like him. I think he’s a nar­cis­sist,’ and he ex­cused me from the au­di­tion. I said, ‘Am I done?’ And he’s like, ‘ Well, yeah.’ I was taken aback. Any­way, I walked out of the room and this singer named Brooke said to me, ‘You know that was an au­di­tion to be Tom Cruise’s girl­friend.’”

Scien­tol­ogy cast the net wide, even au­di­tion­ing women in Europe. Anette Jo­hansen, a for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist from Den­mark, tells In Touch she was asked to au­di­tion in 2005, af­ter Tom had al­ready started

dat­ing Katie Holmes. “They prob­a­bly wanted to have some backup plan,” she says. (The Church of Scien­tol­ogy de­nies the au­di­tions, say­ing, “There was no project, se­cret or oth­er­wise, ever con­ducted by the church to find a bride [via au­di­tion or oth­er­wise] for any mem­ber of the church. Never.”) Oth­ers ru­mored at the time to be wife can­di­dates for Tom, 54, in­cluded Jes­sica Alba, Kate Bos­worth and Scar­lett Jo­hans­son. “The wife au­di­tion­ing could still be go­ing on,” says Ortega, “but you would think af­ter all of the bad pub­lic­ity it got in the past, he wouldn’t do that again.”

Be­sides try­ing to find him a new wife, the church caters to Tom in many other ways. One high-level for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist who asked not to be iden­ti­fied re­calls the time Tom was mak­ing his first visit to Scien­tol­ogy’s in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters. “There were 700 peo­ple plant­ing plants and flow­ers and paint­ing the curbs so ev­ery­thing looked like The Wiz­ard of Oz, like Munchkin­land, by the time he ar­rived,” the for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist, who was in­volved in the project, tells In Touch. “Ev­ery flower, ev­ery leaf, ev­ery blade of grass had to be per­fect, so that when Tom saw it he’d be like, ‘It’s a par­adise.’ But in re­al­ity, it was all ar­ti­fi­cial.” ( In Touch reached out to Tom’s reps but didn’t get a re­sponse by dead­line.)

The spe­cial treat­ment never ended. Tom even had his own el­e­va­tor at the Scien­tol­ogy-run Sand­cas­tle ho­tel in Clear­wa­ter, Fla. “It’s where all the ad­vanced lev­els of au­dit­ing oc­cur, like OT [Op­er­at­ing Thetan] 7,” Bon­nie Kit­tel­son, who was in the church from 1973 to 2013, tells In Touch. “In 2007, I was wait­ing for an el­e­va­tor to go up to the third floor, and I waited and waited. Fi­nally, I took the stairs. When I came back I was talk­ing about how the el­e­va­tor never came, and a friend told me it’s be­cause Tom keeps it aside for him­self so that he doesn’t have to wait for it and he can ride it alone. I thought, ‘ What a snob.’”

And when Tom and then-wife Ni­cole Kid­man were vis­it­ing the in­ter­na­tional base in Hemet, Calif., in the early ’90s, a spe­cial villa was built for them. “We made the bed­ding, the flo­ral ar­range­ments, pic­tures on the wall,” says Karen. “Peo­ple went for days with­out sleep to pre­pare this for Tom and Ni­cole. I doubt Ni­cole knew. But Tom saw that the staff was al­ways there. They were work­ing morn­ing, noon and night like slaves. It’s im­pos­si­ble for him not to have known what was go­ing on.” Cathy agrees: “Tom had to know about peo­ple be­ing abused in the church. It seemed as though he al­lowed s--- to hap­pen. That’s not OK. He just kept turn­ing a blind eye.”

David is the real prob­lem, claims for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist Amy Scobee. “I wit­nessed a lot of phys­i­cal abuse from David,” Amy, who left Scien­tol­ogy in 2005 and wrote the book Scien­tol­ogy — Abuse at the Top, claims to In Touch. “He’s got a se­ri­ous short fuse, and he’s highly un­pre­dictable.” (The church has ve­he­mently de­nied abuse al­le­ga­tions in the past.)

David seems to ma­nip­u­late Tom, de­spite their close re­la­tion­ship. When Tom was given the Free­dom Medal of Valor [in 2004], David just cre­ated that award. “David ma­nip­u­lates Tom through his own van­ity,” claims the for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist.

Nazanin knows first­hand what the church is ca­pa­ble of, says Karen. Nazanin — who has not spo­ken pub­licly about these al­le­ga­tions, and has not con­firmed or de­nied them — made another mis­take in the church’s eyes by telling her friends what it was like to live with Tom. “Her friend re­ported this to an author­ity, and Nazanin got in trou­ble,” says Karen. “She was as­signed to a dis­ci­plinary pro­gram.” One day she was be­ing groomed to be the next Mrs. Tom Cruise, the next she was “on her hands and knees clean­ing floors with a tooth­brush. It was hu­mil­i­at­ing.” ◼

The women had to dis­close any ac­tions that Scien­tol­ogy con­sid­ered to be un­eth­i­cal”


THE CON­TENDERS “The per­son had to be a very ded­i­cated Scien­tol­o­gist so Tom would be able to in­stantly con­nect with her,” for­mer Scien­tol­o­gist Karen Press­ley tells In Touch. Those women in­cluded Nazanin Bo­niadi (clock­wise from top), Cathy Schenkel­berg...

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