How Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes first met has always been shrouded in secrecy. Although it has been widely speculated that she was selected for him by the Church of Scientology, this is something that the organization has always denied. But if the rumor is true, Holmes wouldn’t have been the first actress to “audition” for the role. According to a new report in the October issue of Vanity Fair, just months before Cruise stepped out with Holmes in April 2005, his controversial religion was looking to find a girlfriend for him, preferably one that was already a Scientologist. VF special correspondent Maureen Orth reports that Scientology officials brought in a number of its members, who happened to be actresses, under the guise they were auditioning for a "new training film." The women were also asked, “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Of the "several" that were interviewed, one landed the part: Iranian-born, London-raised Nazanin Boniadi.
"In a month-long preparation in October 2004, she was audited every day, a process in which she told a high-ranking Scientology official her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life," Orth writes in Vanity Fair about the “General Hospital” actress. Boniadi, who one source tells the magazine had to sign a confidentiality agreement, “allegedly was told to lose her braces, her red highlights, and her boyfriend."
A month later, Boniadi, now 32, first met the “Mission: Impossible” star in New York City for a dinner at Nobu – but it wasn’t just a one-on-one date. Orth reports that “an entourage of Scientology aides” were also present and it was “when [Boniadi] first sensed that this was possibly going to be an arranged marriage.” After the meal, they went ice skating at Rockefeller Center, which had been closed to the public. At the end of the night, Boniadi and Cruise retired to a room at Trump Tower, “but according to several sources, they did not have sex.” Orth writes that he also told the brunette beauty, “I’ve never felt this way before” and then had her sign a second confidentiality agreement.
[Related: The rundown on Tom Cruise’s three marriages]
Boniadi supposedly fell in love with the actor, but the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual. Orth writes that Cruise once cruelly told Boniadi, “I get more love from an extra than I get from you.” Still, he moved her into his home (they shared a bedroom) and she was issued a credit card under the name of Cruise’s production company.
But her time at the superstar’s mansion was short-lived. In late January 2005, Boniadi was relocated to Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Hollywood – and was then told she would no longer be Cruise’s girlfriend because he “wants someone with her own power – like Nicole [Kidman],” according to Vanity Fair. When Boniadi asked why Cruise didn’t just break up with her in-person, she was reportedly told he was not to be disturbed. In addition, a Scientology official allegedly said, "Naz, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
After the Celebrity Centre, Boniadi was then sent to live at a Scientology facility in Florida, where she eventually broke down and confided to a pal about her brief relationship with Cruise – and she was punished for it. According to Orth’s sources, Boniadi was forced to scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, dig ditches in the middle of the night, and sell copies of Dianetics (the book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard) – all which Scientology denies. "The Church does not punish people, especially in [that] manner,” a spokesperson told VF.
Vanity Fair's claims about Boniadi being auditioned for Cruise has been confirmed by former Scientologist Paul Haggis, who won an Oscar for "Crash." In an open letter to Showbiz411 on Sunday, he wrote, "Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in the incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done."
In response to Haggis’ claims, Scientology released a statement saying the married director was just trying to “grab headlines” – and then went on to insinuate that he may have had a romantic relationship with Boniadi. "We discovered this simply by Googling his name and hers. Here is our question: is it Paul Haggis who started a relationship with Boniadi while auditioning and casting his last film, ‘The Next Three Days’? What is the motivation here?"
In April 2005, three months after Boniadi was relieved of her duties as Cruise’s girlfriend, Holmes made her debut on the actor's arm while he was promoting “War of the Worlds” in Europe. In November 2006, six months after the birth of their daughter Suri, the two married in a lavish ceremony in Italy. And on June 29, after five years of marriage, Holmes blindsided Cruise by filing for divorce while he was on a film set in Iceland just days before his 50th birthday. Less than two months later, the split was made official, with Holmes getting primary custody of 6-year-old daughter, Suri – which is all she wanted from Cruise.
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