For decades, Tom Cruise has been hailed as the ultimate celebrity ambassador of the Church of Scientology, with the controversial faith allegedly leading to the breakdown for three marriages. HBO documentary Going Clear now claims to revealed the extent of the hold the group has over the action star.
According to the programme, which aired on 29 March, the group's current leader David Miscavige believes Cruise is the ideal figurehead to represent the religious collective, due to his celebrity status and wealth.
The short film, based on Lawrence Wright's 2013 book of the same name, claimed when Cruise married actress Nicole Kidman in 1990, the church disapproved as she was PTS (Potential Trouble Source within the Scientology community). The actress's late father was a psychologist, which goes against certain Scientology beliefs.
Although Cruise's lawyers have denied claims that Miscavige went as far as to hire private investigators and wired Kidman's personal phones to try and gain access to information that could use to split up the couple, the damning documentary suggests Miscavige went to extreme lengths to wreak havoc in their relationship.
Shortly after Cruise divorced Kidman, the church allegedly immediately began vetting another girlfriend for him to date within the public eye. This young female Scientologist was actually none other than star of How I Met Your Mother and Homeland star Nazanin Boniadi and the pair did date for a few months before ending their relationship.
Another explosive claim is the organisation threatened to publicly humiliate Cruise by releasing his audits, secret confessionals that Scientologists are required to share in order to reach a higher form of clarity.
Meanwhile, the piece alleged Grease star John Travolta was desperate leave the church but succumbed to pressure to stay after being blackmailed.
Former Scientology head of special affairs Mike Rinder said: "By exposing [these secrets] or threatening to expose them, they will cower the person into silence. I know this because I used to do it."
Although Cruise nor Travolta have commented on the documentary, Scientology representatives sent a five-page letter to Hollywood Reporter, labelling it as "bigoted propaganda".
"We agree with a reviewer of the documentary who has described Mr Gibney's film as 'pointless scaremongering'. All of Mr Gibney's sources serve that purpose. They spew false, embellished and hyperbolic tales to create sensationalistic hatred toward the church with a portrait none of its parishioners, staff or clergy recognise," the statement read.
"In two hours, this film racks up more falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions than were committed by Rolling Stone, Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly combined. By our calculation, the film on average includes at least one major error every two minutes."
But Alex Gibney, the award-winning director and writer of the documentary, told CNN the response was "frankly ridiculous".