Paul Haggis is taking journalists to task over Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology.
Haggis, a two-time Oscar-winner for the films Million Dollar Baby and Crash, left the Church of Scientology after 35 years over the San Diego branch of the church’s stance on Prop 8, a California ballot proposition which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Since his departure, Haggis has been an outspoken opponent of the Church of Scientology. His activism included an appearance in the documentary Going Clear.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Haggis discussed Hollywood, Scientology, celebrity, and how they lead to unasked questions and unchallenged wrongs.
Going Clear, which premiered on HBO in April 2015, detailed numerous alleged practices in the Church of Scientology which paint a picture of extortion, isolation, and harassment of current and former members. Allegations that representatives of the Church of Scientology extorted and blackmailed numerous government officials in order to secure status as a legally recognized religion–and the tax exempt status it entails were among the most inflammatory, but it’s allegations that Church of Scientology leader David Miscaviage personally championed the divorce of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that drew the most attention from the entertainment media.
Yet during the recent press junket for Tom Cruise’s new film, Mission: Impossible Rouge Nation, Scientology was never mentioned, and Cruise was never asked to defend his continued association with the Church of Scientology. That is where Haggis takes issue.
“His PR people are very smart. But I don’t know how journalists can continue to call themselves journalists if they aren’t brave enough to ask a question. I mean, how big does the elephant in the room have to be before you ask about it?”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Cruise and his PR team strictly forbid any questions about Scientology or Cruise’s love life. Haggis acknowledged the ban, but didn’t seem to think it excused journalists from asking difficult questions of Cruise, and he had harsh words for any journalist who fails to challenge Tom Cruise on Scientology.
“…they can’t get the interview. Well, fine, but there are things called journalistic integrity, and there are things more important than promoting a movie sometimes. It was so glaringly obvious. There was this huge elephant there, and every journalist agreed not to address it. Why? You’re just a PR person at that point. Shame on you.”
This isn’t the first time that a journalist failing to question Tom Cruise about Scientology has raised eyebrows. According to The Hollywood Reporter, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart faced criticism for not mentioning Scientology during an interview with Tom Cruise last month. Going Clear director Alex Gibney reportedly called the interview a “missed opportunity” and an example of the “machine of celebrity.”
Paul Haggis seems to agree.
“We forgive anybody anything if they’re a movie star, I guess!”
[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images Entertainment]