Photo Credit: James Devaney/WireImage
Remember those rumors that Tom Cruise met Katie Holmes while he was "auditioning" wives? The gossip was that he'd approached several other actresses before Katie, and that she was the first to be approved by the Scientology bigwigs. The ex-couple, of course, has always denied the story -- while never actually revealing how they met. Now, a shocking new Vanity Fair article claims that Cruise did, indeed, recruit potential wives with the help of Scientology officials. The report claims that one particular woman, former How I Met Your Mother actress Nazanin Boniadi, nearly became the next Mrs. Cruise -- until her dream-come-true ended in tears.
According to the magazine's October cover story (preview it here), Cruise's wife-hunt was treated as a "top-secret project" by Scientology officials. To that end, religious officials recruited women and put them through a rigorous training process, including daily "audits" (the Scientologists' version of counseling, which requires members to reveal deeply personal information). One of these women was Boniadi, a working actress who was born in the Middle East, raised in London and attended college in California. Unaware that she was being set up with Cruise, Boniadi (who was not consulted for the article) was allegedly told to change her hair color, get rid of her braces and dump her boyfriend.
In November 2004, Boniadi was reportedly flown to New York, where she joined Cruise for dinner at Nobu and skating at Rockefeller Center (both dates he would later repeat with Holmes). That was the beginning of her relationship with Cruise -- although she swore an agreement that she would tell no one, not even her parents.
Cruise dated the actress until January 2005, but their relationship quickly turned sour. Tom allegedly complained that Nazanin didn't love or respect him enough; Nazanin reportedly fell in love with Cruise, but felt trapped and manipulated. After she inadvertently insulted Cruise's pal David Miscavige, the head of Scientology, Boniadi was cut out of Cruise's life without so much as a goodbye. Heartbroken, she confided to a friend about the relationship and was punished by Scientology officials, sent to Florida's Scientology Center and forced to do physical labor. Needless to say, Boniadi is no longer a Scientologist.
Cruise's rep has vehemently denied the Vanity Fair story. "Lies in a different font are still lies -- designed to sell magazines," he told the press on Monday. Representatives from Scientology have also denied the wife-hunt report, claiming that the reporter's sources were "disgruntled apostates" seeking revenge on the church. When approached for the article, Cruise, Miscavige and Boniadi all refused to comment.
Two prominent ex-Scientologists, however, have come forward to corroborate the story. Marty Rathbun, a former Scientology official who once audited Cruise, writes on his blog that "Naz is a courageous woman who was ruthlessly exploited" and fought successfully to carry on her life without Scientology. (He does make one correction to the Vanity Fair report, which you can see here.) Filmmaker Paul Haggis, the subject of a famous New Yorker expose on the church, has also revealed that he knew Boniadi in their mutual Scientologist days.
"Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent," Haggis, who left the church in 2009, told Us Weekly. "However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done."
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes came out as a couple in April 2005 -- three months after he allegedly dumped Nazanin. Makes you wonder.