As the most famous Scientologist in the world, the 50-year-old actor fought for the cause of his faith with American and British leaders, and even imagined once himself in the White House -- at least according to Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright's new book.
As excerpted in The Hollywood Reporter, Wright reveals that the Jack Reacher star consulted with the likes of President Bill Clinton, a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's team, and several key members of President George W. Bush's staff-- lobbying for causes important to the Church of Scientology.
According to one account in Going Clear, Cruise once boasted to David Miscavige -- his mentor and the head of the Church -- about his discussions with Bush's team. Marty Rathbun, a former high-level member of the Church who has since left the faith, relayed the conversation to Wright.
According to Rathbun, Cruise slammed actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenneger during the conversation: "If f--ing Arnold can be governor, I could be president," the star allegedly said. Said Miscavige: "Well, absolutely, Tom." A lawyer for the actor denied the exchange ever took place or that Cruise has any political aspirations.
The Going Clear excerpt also delves into the demise of Cruise's second marriage to Nicole Kidman. Cruise was "drifting" from the faith in the late 90s -- but spent five mysterious days inside the Scientology center in Hollywood in 1998. "He was not in good shape, spiritually or mentally," Rathbun is quoted as saying; at the time, he was in charge of "auditing" the star, subjecting him to an intense bout of spiritual and religious counseling.
According to Rathbun, Miscavige "blamed" Kidman, now 45, for Cruise's then estrangement from the Church. Wright explains that Miscavige "viewed [Kidman] as a gold digger who was faking Scientology. [Rathbun] says Miscavige was hopeful that if they portrayed Nicole Kidman as a Suppressive Person, Cruise could be peeled away from her."
Without much of an explanation, Cruise divorced Kidman in 2001; they share kids Isabella, 19, and Conor, 17.
After divorcing Kidman, Cruise became an even more powerful member of the Church -- performing auditing sessions on other individuals himself. One former acolyte, Marc Headley, says Cruise instructed him to "[tell] an ashtray to stand up [and] sit down" during auditing sessions which took place when Headley was 16. (Through his lawyer, Cruise said he has no recollection of meeting Headley).
Slamming Wright's book, a rep for the Church of Scientology tells the Hollywood Reporter: "The one thing 'clear' about Lawrence Wright's book is that he continues to carry water for a handful of angry, bitter individuals ... [who] regurgitate six decades of false, bizarre tabloid allegations about the religion’s founder, its leadership and its prominent members."