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Tom Cruise, Scientology & cookies: Leah Remini's new book bares all

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 7:53 IST

HBO's Going Clear documentary put a glaring spotlight on the so-called "church" of Scientology this year, and it looks like that light isn't dimming anytime soon.

That's because Leah Remini - who you all would know best from the TV show The King of Queens - since leaving the Church of Scientology in 2013, has opened up about her lifelong relationship with the "religion" and her decision to leave it behind in a new tell-all - Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.

Leah Remini TroublemakerSince its release, we, who are among the skeptics when it comes to Scientology, are now privy to even more juicy tidbits than we got from Alex Gibney's documentary because this time it's an entirely insider view.

Remini does go into detail about how and why she joined the church at the age of nine, about her time in the Sea Org, but the main reason most people are rushing to buy the book are obviously for the celebrity bits.

"All Scientologists are expected to present an image to the outside world that is so perfect and happy that people can't help but want to join," she writes. "If you are a celebrity, your reach is that much greater. And celebrities are expected to use the full extent of their power to bring new parishioners into the fold."

Cruise control

And there's no celebrity more inextricably linked to the "religion" than Tom Cruise.

In an interview before the release of the book, she said: "Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself," she said. "You are a person who is anti the aims and goals of Scientology. You are evil."

Those details we mentioned above? We they include the time Suri Cruise was left sobbing on the bathroom floor before Tom and Katie's wedding.

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And that Katie Holmes left Tom standing at the altar for a solid 20 minutes, leaving guests to wonder if she was going to become a runway.

Remini shared that he once had an epic meltdown when his assistant gave him prepackaged cookie dough. He allegedly screamed "'Get in the f-king present time, is what you need to do.'"

Here are a few more Cruise gems from the book:

1. The church felt the couch-jumping incident was a good thing

Besides certain films, Cruise is possibly best remembered in popular imagination for his infamous Oprah couch jumping.

And according to Remini, the church did not look upon it negatively. "The guy's really happy, and you should be happy for him," Remini recalls her church liaison, Shane Woodruff, telling her.

2. Remini on how it feels when Tom Cruise asks you to play hide-and-seek:

"As the dinners continued and we spent more time with Tom, I came to think of him as a big kid with his loud laugh, high energy, and goofy ideas of fun. Like when he invited some Scientologists and a few other celebrities like Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, to his house and announced he wanted to play hide-and-seek. At first I thought he was joking, 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.

"I can't play - I'm wearing Jimmy Choos," I said.

"Well, good," Tom said with his signature grin. "So you're It, then." And with that he tagged me and ran to hide.

3. Remini on when Tom Cruise really wants cookies:

"People were terrified of offending Tom, and not without reason," she says before recounting a story about one night when he wanted to make cookies.

Once when Angelo and I were over, Tom decided he wanted to make cookies. He walked into the kitchen, where a batch of prepackaged cookie dough had been prepared and was sitting on the counter, a perfect loaf ready for cutting and baking. Tom was looking for flour and other ingredients and must not have seen the cookie dough, and he instantly got angry.

"Guys, where's the cookie stuff?" he said, furrowing his brow.

His assistants came running in wanting to explain that it was right there, on a nearby counter, but all one of them could say was, "Uh, Tom." They both grew more flustered, and Tom got angry. "Goddamn it!"

Looking at the dough sitting on a cutting board, obvious to all of us except Tom, I wished his assistant would say, "Hey, the stuff is right under your nose, dumb-ass." But she didn't. She couldn't. Instead, Katie whispered something to Tom, who repeated, "Can I just get the stuff for the cookies, guys?"

4. On how thinking about Nicole Kidman helped Remini leave the church

"During this confusing early period, I sometimes felt adrift, but I had one figure I kept front and center in my mind to keep from going crazy: Nicole Kidman.

That's right, Tom Cruise's ex was my guardian angel. Although I never met her or attempted to meet her, I thought about her a lot. While I stared at the dark ceiling at night, unable to sleep, I would say to myself, "Remember Nicole Kidman. She was declared an SP (Suppressed Person) and left the church, and she's doing okay. Her career is still going, and she has a husband and family. Just remember Nicole Kidman. She left and she's okay."

5. Remini alleges that Cruise had a complete freak out when his assistant gave him a chipped mug

"'You served me tea in a chipped mug? Do you know who gets served with a mug that's chipped? F***ing DBs (Scientology speak for "Degraded Being),'" Cruise reportedly said.

On a serious note (after all that cruising)

Ballantine Books, the publisher of Troublemaker, promised the public "an eye-opening insider account of [Leah's] tumultuous and heart-wrenching 30-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology."

That's exactly what this book is. The Church has been shrouded in secrecy for years till Gibney's film shone some light on the subject.

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And the film only touches on the tip of the iceberg: there's fraud, extortion, murder, disappearances, horrific punishments and many more crazy aspects. And beliefs, of course.

For one: Scientologists descend from aliens. Two: their souls are already so damaged that they need to "audit" their memories to lighten said load.


In fact, when the wife of chief David Miscavige disappeared in a suspicious manner, Remini was among the few to question the disappearance.

At Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes, in November 2006, Remini couldn't help but notice a glaring absence. She allegedly asked, "Where's Shelly?" and was promptly told to shut up and mind her own business.

Here are some more horrific details that Remini writes about

She was physically abused as a teenager in the Sea Org

"He [Sea Org leader Mike Curley] cut the engine and started screaming at me. 'Never do you sit in a public place. You are Sea Org members. Don't you know that the pool at that hotel is for paying guests only, not for you to be enjoying? Do you understand me?' he yelled. 'Mm-hmm,' I said. 'It's 'yes sir!''... Mike kept trying to get me to say 'yes sir.' But I couldn't do it. Then he picked me up and before I even realized what was happening, he threw me overboard. The shock of the moment and the freezing water took my breath away, and for an instant I thought I was going to drown."

Remini's infant sister, Shannon, was kept in horrifying conditions at the Sea Org

"Nursery' was a charitable term for the motel room in the Quality Inn filled with cribs of crying, neglected babies, flies, and the smell of dirty diapers. The only ventilation came from a huge fan by the window.... The person in charge was a kid like me, just some random teenage Sea Org member on post, who was hardly qualified to be taking care of children. Shannon was crying and soaked with urine in her crib.... The neglect was overwhelming."

Moving up in Scientology requires a tonne of money

"Having grown up a Scientologist, I knew firsthand the financial sacrifice that the church demands of its ordinary practitioners...On a more personal level, I had watched my whole family struggle to move up the Bridge. They were $250,000 in debt at this point. The fact that people making average salaries of $50,000 a year somehow find a way to pay the $500,000 necessary to get on their OT levels- frankly, it's a superhuman task. The level of dedication is astonishing and admirable, but over the long term it means financial destruction for a lot of people and families."

Note: Do watch John Oliver's take on televangelists if you haven't already:

First published: 5 November 2015, 3:44 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.