Tom Cruise’s COVID-19 rant puts spotlight on Scientology controversies

For critics of Scientology, Cruise’s f-bomb-laced tirade against crew members was a reminder of the actor’s alleged complicity in some of the church’s troubling practices.

The Mercury News, California/December 16, 2020

By Martha Ross

After a U.K. tabloid on Tuesday published audio of Tom Cruise railing against the “Mission: Impossible” crew for violations of COVID-19 safety guidelines, the megastar initially received widespread praise for taking the global pandemic seriously.

Amid the praise, a number of people expressed concern about a rich and famous Hollywood star berating subordinates with f-bombs and threats of being fired — even as they said the actor and producer is right to worry about the pandemic halting film and TV productions, and jeopardizing thousands of industry jobs.

Some prominent figures went even further in their criticism of Cruise, saying that his rant, published by The Sun, was a reminder of his alleged complicity in some of the alleged troubling practices of the Church of Scientology. Cruise is well-known as a high-ranking member of the controversial organization.

“This abusive side of TC is not often seen,” tweeted Mike Rinder, a former Scientology leader who has become a well-known critic of the organization, detailing his concerns on Leah Remini’s Emmy-winning A&E docuseries, “Scientology and the Aftermath,” and on the “Fair Game” podcast.

Rinder said Cruise, 58, sounded as though he was mimicking Scientology leader David Miscavige in the way he harangued subordinates.

“He learned from his buddy David Miscavige,” Rinder said. “Sounds just like him — same language, same inflection, same ‘I have the world on my shoulders and you are (expletive) me over’ routine.”

Cruise apparently flew into a rage after spotting two crew members at the Warner Bros’ Studio north of London, standing near a computer monitor together, The Sun reported. The crew members were standing less than six feet apart, in violation of on-set rules, the New York Times reported after confirming the authenticity of the audio. Cruise’s outburst left the 50 other people on the set stunned, The Sun said.

“If I see you do it again, you’re (expletive) gone,” Cruise yelled. “And if anyone in this crew does it, that’s it — and you too and you too.

“That’s what I sleep with every night,” Cruise, who has produced and starred in all seven of the “Mission: Impossible” films, the first six of which earned $3.5 billion globally, continued, Forbes reported.

“The future of this (expletive) industry!” Cruise said. “So I’m sorry I am beyond your apologies. I have told you and now I want it, and if you don’t do it you’re out. We are not shutting this (expletive) movie down! Is it understood?”

Production for the seventh “Mission: Impossible” film set in Italy has been delayed twice because of COVID-19, first in February when the epidemic raged in that country, and then in October, after 12 people on the Italian set tested positive, the New York Times reported.

Rinder’s tweet was in response to an even more scathing Twitter thread about Cruise and Scientology by investigative journalist Yashar Ali.

When Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, suggested that it was still important for Cruise to call out unsafe behavior during the pandemic, Ali shot back: “No I will not compartmentalize a man who has helped to destroy the lives of many people I know and care about.”

Berkeley writer Ayelet Waldman joined the discussion by tweeting to Ali: “Oh, that’s true. Sigh. You’re right. But (expletive) the Covidiots.”

People sympathetic to Cruise avoided the Scientology topic when agreeing it wasn’t right for him to lose his temper. They insisted he’s under an extraordinary amount of pressure to make sure the film is finished.

“You should never EVER lose your temper like this, no matter how in the right you might be,” tweeted film writer Grace Randolph. “But I think it’s important to also remember the stress Tom Cruise is clearly under.”

The Sun reported that Cruise has personally tried to ensure there are no more delays in filming by always wearing a mask on set and keeping “a constant eye out for rule-breakers.” The Sun said Cruise personally paid more than $600,000 for a cruise ship to accommodate cast and crew wanting to isolate. The movie is due for release in November 2021.

Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern, citing a March report in the Tampa Bay Times, suggested that Cruise’s rant could be part of Scientology’s P.R. effort to portray itself as taking COVID-19 seriously, even as it continued to admit adherents to services and spiritual counseling sessions at its international headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. A spokesman for the church told the Tampa Bay Times that it enforced social distancing and decontamination practices at its facilities, using the “most powerful and aggressive decontaminant available.”

As people may praise Cruise for “painting himself as a film-industry savior,” Stern wrote, in a work environment, “there are better ways to get your point across than going on a power trip and publicly embarrassing a couple of people far below you in the pecking order.”
“Please remember as you’re praising the audio of Tom Cruise yelling at crew members who don’t follow Covid restrictions that he’s the chief enabler of a criminal organization that has destroyed people’s lives, bankrupted and separated families, led to people being imprisoned,” began Ali, who has published a number of critical stories about the Church of Scientology.

Ali, who writes for HuffPost and New York magazine, brought up how Scientology reportedly broke up Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman because she wouldn’t join the church. He also said that Scientology has “forced women to have abortions against their will, led people to die after being forced to follow dangerous pseudoscience, led former members to be chased all over the country/world by private investigators… And those are just the broader issues….”

“Tom Cruise is evil,” Ali said.

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