Like most rational human beings, we were initially quite horrified when we read the details, per Vanity Fair, of the supposed spouse recruitment that the Church of Scientology arranged for Tom Cruise back in 2004. According to the October cover story, after several young actresses/Scientology members submitted audition tapes for what they thought was a film project, Iranian-born and London-raised Nazanin Boniadi “won” the role. She lost the part after three month, the story says. Her friend, the director and former Scientologist (and infamous Scientology critic) Paul Haggis confirmed the relationship to Showbiz411, telling the site, “Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. … 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. It wasn’t just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting.”
So, OK, the church allegedly violated her privacy, made her break up with her old boyfriend, treated her like a disobedient child when she displeased Cruise and punished her for confiding in her friend about the relationship by making her scrub toilets with a toothbrush. But we’re going to play devil’s advocate for a second here: There had to be something that made this all worth it, right? Something that made Katie Holmes stick around for years? We just want to take a second to dissect the possible reasons a person might put herself through such a process. (And btw, the Church of Scientology and Tom Cruise’s camp deny all of the VF story’s allegations).
- You get to date a major Hollywood movie star, on whom you probably had a crush at one or more times during your girlhood. Even if there’s no true love involved, thousands of years of successful royal marriages prove that this kind of match isn’t the worst thing in the world.
- You can probably expect to become famous in the process. Or, in Katie’s case, more famous than a teen drama would ever make you. (This kind of didn’t work for Nazanin, who was kept hidden.)
- You get an image makeover. Nazanin got her braces removed and her hair color changed. Katie got that chic bob and a high-fashion update thanks to friendships with Karl Lagerfeld and the like.
- Despite the fact that Cruise allegedly had other people choose his dates for him, and reportedly had an entourage in tow for their first date, he sounds like quite the romantic. His first date with Nazanin included dinner at Nobu and ice-skating at Rockefeller Center (rented out just for them). “I’ve never felt this way before,” he supposedly told her that night. As someone who nearly melted when he merely said my name at a PRESS CONFERENCE, I can attest to the very convincing nature of Tom Cruise’s relentless charm.
- If you believe in Scientology, as someone like Nazanin, whose mother was also a member, clearly did, you would probably be interested in being involved with its highest leaders and maybe even think any sacrifices you make are minor in respect to the bigger picture. You might also think that a match arranged by the church has your best interests in mind. (But yeah, you make one mistake like asking the leader to repeat himself because he talks too fast and you’re dumped on your ass and scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush, allegedly.)
So, it’s not Boniadi on the cover of a bunch of magazines this fall and being hounded by the tabloids as she escorts her beautiful daughter all over town. On the other hand, things seem to have worked out for her since she was allegedly ditched by Cruise and eventually left Scientology: She’s now a working actress with parts on General Hospital, Iron Man and How I Met Your Mother under her belt, plus she’s a spokesperson for Amnesty International. And she still looks like this.
[Photos: Vanity Fair, Getty Images]