Watch Tom Cruise in a gripping new documentary about the secretive quasi-religious organization to which he belongs, Scientology. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, will be broadcast on HBO as well as online Sunday.
The film, directed by 61-year-old acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney, has been called "the final nail in Scientology's coffin," but even for viewers unfamiliar with the bizarre religion, the movie will prove fascinating for its portrayals of Cruise, John Travolta, and other celebrities in a strange and creepy side of their private lives that they do their best to hide from their fans.
A trailer for the Scientology exposé can be viewed above.
Scientology was founded in 1952 by an author of rambling, pulp science fiction novels, L. Ron Hubbard.
Hubbard, who died in 1986 at age 75, first devised Scientology as a simplistic form of psychotherapy, as outlined in his 1950 book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
But within a couple of years, Hubbard realized that there was far greater potential to make money — and be shielded from paying taxes — if his new "science" was classified as a "religion." At that point, Scientology was born.
Through the ensuing decades, both under Hubbard's rule and that of his successor, David Miscavige, Scientology has taken a ruthlessly aggressive approach to its critics, often bombarding them with lawsuits and, reportedly, even more overbearing forms of intimidation.
HBO, according to the Hollywood Reporter, employed a battalion of 160 attorneys whose job was to comb through every nuance of Going Clear to make sure that the documentary was as invulnerable to legal attacks as possible.
The documentary is based on the 2013 nonfiction book by journalist Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, condensing many of the 560-page book's most startling revelations into a 120-minute HBO film.
Many of the most startling of those revelations involved Tom Cruise, who, the film implies, has been aware of many human rights abuses committed by Scientology against members of the "church."
The book by Wright alleges that Cruise personally benefited from what is effectively slave labor performed by members of the Scientology "Sea Org," group, who are said to sign "billion year" contracts with Scientology to perform arduous labor for almost no wages at all.
Going Clear will be available to watch online via HBO GO starting on Sunday evening, March 29, at this link.
While Tom Cruise himself has not commented, Scientology has been firing back at the upcoming HBO documentary, largely in the form of a Twitter account in the name of "Freedom, Media & Ethics." The account is filled with tweets personally attacking former Scientology members and others interviewed in the film, as well as posting pictures of supposedly empty theaters where Going Clear was screened prior to its HBO premiere.
[Image: Mark Mainz/Getty Images]