Tom Cruise was so eager to introduce other celebrities to Scientology that the church once built a soccer field for him to show off to David Beckham.
The actor “was doing his best to court celebrities other than those with whom he was working on films. Perhaps the most famous were David and Victoria Beckham,” writes Mike Rinder in the new book “A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology.”
“A professional-grade soccer pitch was constructed on the property at Gold [Base, church headquarters in San Jacinto, Calif.]. The ground was leveled, irrigation installed, perfect turf, goals raised,” Rinder, a former high-ranking church officer, writes. “A full-time caretaker was appointed from the Gold staff … It was built for one purpose only: so Tom Cruise could woo his friend David to come to Gold. It never happened.”
The church has also sought to help Cruise with his love life, Rinder claims.
In 2004, the star was in Spain at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Scientology center. “Tom had been dating Spanish actress Penélope Cruz, which was a contributing factor as to why so much money was spent to buy and renovate the beautiful building there,” Rinder writes. “So it’s a bit ironic that by the time it was completed Penélope had broken up with him.”
At the ceremony, the star reportedly turned to Rinder and griped, “Can you believe [Cruise’s sister] Lee Ann can’t set me up with a girlfriend?”
Miscavige “took it to heart” and allegedly initiated a special project, overseen by trusted lieutenant Greg Wilhere, where “auditions” were held to find the action star a girlfriend and, ultimately, a spouse.
Cruise had a short-lived relationship with British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi, who was also a Scientologist, and began dating “Dawson’s Creek” star Katie Holmes in April 2005. (Holmes shocked the world when she announced she was splitting from Cruise in June 2012 after six years of marriage.)
“Mike Rinder is an inveterate liar who seeks to profit from his dishonesty. He supports himself by orchestrating the harassment of his former Church and its leader through false police reports, incendiary propaganda and fraudulent media stories,” a Scientology spokesperson told Page Six.
Rinder writes that he was also tasked with talking to Cruise’s longtime publicist, Pat Kingsley of powerhouse firm PMK, who had advised the actor not to talk about Scientology in public. Eventually, Cruise fired Kingsley and replaced her with his sister Lee Ann. His three sisters and mother had all joined the sect.
Lee Ann was inexperienced, Rinder writes, and did whatever Miscavige told her to.
“With time, Cruise’s public statements steadily became more and more outlandish,” Rinder writes. “He ultimately made a complete fool of himself by jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s couch during their infamous May 23, 2005, interview when he revealed his love for Holmes.
“Shortly after that, he accused Matt Lauer of being ‘glib’ about psychiatric drugs on the Today show … He was the perfect example of what a Scientology celebrity should be doing — speaking with absolute certainty, unashamed of what we Scientologists believed and knew to be true, no matter how bats–t crazy.”
Rinder’s own introduction to Scientology came at the age of 5 when his parents began taking him to their local church center in Adelaide, Australia. After high school, he skipped university and instead became a member of Sea Org.
After becoming Scientology’s international spokesperson and the head of its Office of Special Affairs. he also helped negotiate the organization’s controversial tax exemption from the IRS and spent time with many of its most prominent celebrity members including Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley.
But misgivings about the secretive organization made Rinder rethink his position and he finally left in 2007 at the age of 52. Overnight he became an enemy of the group and claims that he was followed, hacked and spied on.
Rinder writes that he paid a steep price for his defection.
His ex-wife, Cathy, who remains in Sea Org., divorced him after he left. Their two children “disconnected” from Rinder, as did his brother, sister and their families. His mother also “disconnected” and he was not told by family when she passed away in 2013.
The whistleblower is often asked why he continues speaking out despite constant harassment.
“I always respond truthfully,” he writes. “I brought two children into that world and they know no better. I want them to have a chance to think for themselves and make up their own minds.”