Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director behind an upcoming HBO Scientology exposé, called actor and prominent adherent Tom Cruise “irresponsible” for refusing to address allegations of mental and physical abuse within the controversial church.
Gibney’s comments came during a Q&A session after a screening of his film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, at HBO’s Midtown Manhattan office on Monday, according to the New York Post.
“[Cruise] can espouse his beliefs, that’s fine,” Gibney said after the screening. “But not to address the allegations of abuse seems to me palpably irresponsible.”
“It seems to me [Cruise] has an obligation to speak out,” he added.
Gibney’s film, based on a bestselling 2013 book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation. The film reportedly details the Church of Scientology’s relationship with Hollywood celebrities and the methods by which the church uses Hollywood figures to recruit and further its goals.
The film also features interviews with former Scientologists about the church’s aggressive intervention policies, including the charge that it was responsible for breaking up Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.
The church has relentlessly attacked both the film and HBO since the project’s completion. In January, Scientology ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and other news media outlets blasting Gibney and HBO, accusing them of failing to reach out to the church for clarifications and interviews.
“Wright and Gibney cherry-picked expelled, discredited former Scientologists who would help them advance their propaganda. What was portrayed as a nonfiction book, and now a film, are both transparent vehicles for vendettas,” the church writes on a website devoted to discrediting the film.
The church also started a Twitter account, called Freedom Media Ethics, that has frequently attacked the film’s credibility. One of the account’s most recent tweets suggested that Gibney “bent over backwards so far to demonize Scientology that he may never stand up again,” a tweet that International Business Times said “could be seen to rise to the level of a threat.”
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 25, 2015
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief premieres March 29 on HBO.