8 burning questions we have after watching HBO's Scientology doc, 'Going Clear'
There's no doubt that director Alex Gibney's new documentary film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, based on the book of the same name, is a powerful look at what many believe is a polarizing religion. The film, which first premiered at Sundance and briefly hit theaters before it debuted on HBO, takes a look at the history of the Church, its celebrated celebrity faces, and what certain members say drove them out.
Not surprisingly, the Church doesn't agree with the claims made in the film, saying -- in a statement released to The Insider -- that it is nothing more than "bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods invented by admitted liars." In fact, the group has responded vociferously on its website, Freedom, asserting that "the courts have debunked the ludicrous 'human trafficking' and 'involuntary servitude' allegation against the Church that Lawrence Wright promoted in his Going Clear book and that HBO is exploiting."
We didn't expect the film to answer every question or allegation about the controversies it covers -- but it still left us with some unanswered questions.
1. Does the Church maintain secrets about its celebrity members? At one point, the film implies that John Travolta is trapped in the Church, held by secrets collected during auditing sessions. But Gibney doesn't explicitly say what might be.
BuzzFeed News reports that a spokesperson for the Church said allegations of blackmail are "false and defamatory" and any assertion that auditing sessions were being leveraged as "deeply offensive."
2. And how involved is Travolta these days? The film only discussed his early days -- and we know what he's been up to lately.
3. How did the Church feel about Tom Cruise's 2005 outburst on Oprah's couch? The film shows how Cruise became the Church's biggest celebrity asset, reaching over 1 billion people across the world per the film, to promote its message. But what happened when Cruise had this couch moment, which reportedly hurt his film career?
4. Why didn't Gibney reach out to Katie Holmes for comment? Cruise's third wife started studying Scientology soon after she started dating the actor, but no mention of her was made throughout the entire film nor was she listed among those the production reached out to.
5. Did Nicole Kidman know of the wiretap allegations on her phone when she was married to Cruise? One former Church member -- who's largely been discreditedby the Church -- claimed they wiretapped Kidman's phone in order to undermine her relationship with then-husband, Cruise. (She did not participate in the documentary.)
6. Does anyone remember that Cruise allegedly dated Homeland actress Nazanin Boniadi? In the documentary, it's purported that the actress was selected and groomed to be Cruise's next girlfriend. However, their relationship reportedly lasted three months.
Google and Getty Image searches show no results of them to together, outside of Vanity Fair's expose on Cruise's relationships. The article also reports that Scientology representatives deny any sort of search or audition took place.
7. Does the Church focus extra attention on promoting Travolta and Cruise's memberships? There are a number of stars who are a part of the Church, including GRAMMY Album of the Year winner Beck and Kirstie Alley. It seems the public has only focused on the two celebrities.
8. Is Paul Haggis' film The Next Three Days a metaphor for escaping the Church? Watch the trailer and you decide.
See Tom Cruise through the years: