It may seem rather damning to categorically point to one religion and refer to it as a cult, but if the trailer and interviews for Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie are anything to go by, Theroux has bravely revealed just what lengths Scientologists will go to in order to keep the media out of their lives and the public from knowing the truth about their organization.
Louis’s new film comes off the back of his recent documentary on Jimmy Savile, which aired on October 2 on the BBC. Theroux has always managed to elicit truth in the candidates he interviews, drawing them in and making them feel comfortable enough to speak honestly.
There can be no doubt that he must have felt perplexed that he couldn’t break through Savile’s predatory exterior, even off-screen, in order to find even the smallest semblance of evidence that could point to Jimmy’s crimes. It was extremely brave of Louis Theroux to show such candid footage from past encounters with Jimmy Savile while pondering how even he couldn’t pin anything on him. It is perhaps because Theroux is so brutally honest with himself that he is able to bring out that same honesty in others.
Scientologists are not generally known for being upfront and truthful. They are an organization that is cloaked in secrets, and who better to get to the bottom of them than Louis Theroux?
Theroux spent three years learning about Scientology before embarking upon My Scientology Movie. Scientologists, however, were not pleased when they discovered that they would be the target of his newest documentary. They are reported to have followed him around on the road wherever he went, shown up uninvited during filming, and even, rather amusingly, turned the cameras back at him by filming him while he was filming them.
In one interview, Louis seemed genuinely perplexed that anybody would be so critical of a documentary. After all, he said, if you disagreed with the Catholic Church over their cover-up of abuse, priests didn’t just turn up at your house unannounced and begin filming you. So why did Scientologists do this?
“One of the fascinating things about Scientology is that they fight back. It’s not like other churches – you know, Christianity, you think of turning the other cheek – well that idea doesn’t exist in Scientology, as far as I know. In fact, they believe that if you’re under attack as a Scientologist, you have a license to destroy that person.”
It was clear to Theroux from the start that Scientologists weren’t going to willingly open their doors to him and invite him in for tea, deep conversation, and personal insight into their organization. That being the case, Louis had to painstakingly glean evidence in a different way.
“Although I was immersed in the concept, and I was immersed among ex-Scientologists, the only encounters I was having with actual paid-up Scientologists was when they were hassling me and hassling the people I was speaking to, by filming or shouting abuse at us.”
In My Scientology Movie, produced by Simon Chinn (Man On A Wire), Hollywood actors are employed and ex-Scientology Marty Rathbun helps to guide the process. Theroux has referred to Rathbun as the “heart and soul” of this new documentary, but at one point Marty nearly left filming as he was suffering such extreme harassment by Scientologists. Considering the fact that Marty Rathbun at one time was the go-to man for the head of Scientology himself, David Miscavige, harassment is perhaps not surprising given Scientology’s deep and abiding regard for keeping secrets. And Rathbun has plenty that he could potentially expose.
While it’s not really surprising that Scientologists would take an angry stance at Theroux’s new film, he remains firmly stoic in the face of adversity.
“The bottom line is you do what you feel is a reasonable job, a fair job. Clearly it would be nice if people all liked the documentaries that they appeared in.”
Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie will be in theaters on Friday, October 7.
[Featured Image by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]