Members of the Church of Scientology are feverishly letting Harvey Weinstein’s studio know they strongly object to Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie “The Master,” which loosely is about Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, concerned Scientologists have called, e-mailed, and sent letters to Weinstein’s studio, The Weinstein Company, and the studio has taken extra precautions by paying for extra security for the movie’s premiere in New York on Monday.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a cult leader in the movie, and his role is loosely based on Hubbard. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a “drifter who falls under Hoffman character’s spell.”
Though The Hollywood Reporter notes Anderson has downplayed the Scientology connection, he did acknowledge to Vanity Fair the film was “inspired by L. Ron Hubbard and the early days of Dianetics” and said he had shown the film to Tom Cruise, a prominent Scientologist, and the two “are still friends.”
Cruise has recently put Scientology back in the spotlight after he and actress Katie Holmes were involved in a high-profile divorce.
In addition, Vanity Fair published an investigative story alleging Cruise and high-ranking Scientology officials auditioned women to be Cruise’s lovers. One woman, Nazanin Boniadi, was cut off from her family in Iran and groomed to be Cruise’s wife. Cruise ultimately did not find her to be compatible, and when she allegedly complained of Cruise’s obsessive behavior, Scientology officials allegedly punished her by forcing her to clean toilets with a toothbrush and sending her to street corner to sell copies of Hubbard’s books.
Such stories have made people more fascinated — or perhaps disturbed — by the mysterious and secretive religion which some think is more of a cult.
But TWC denied it was using these recent controversies to help market “The Master,” which opens in limited release tomorrow but goes wide Sept. 21.