I’ve been on a roll lately, reading as many juicy biographies and true stories as possible. And I can say I think I found the most interesting, controversial, strange, and unexpected one yet in best-selling author Andrew Morton’s book, Tom Cruise. As fascinated as I am by ordinary people’s lives, there’s always that extra fascination for people I’ve grown up watching on the big screen, who I’ve almost come to love, simply through the personas and roles they take on in some of my favorite movies. It sounds crazy, but I think you movie buffs out there understand.
Anyway, let’s get back on track. When I picked up this book, I was expecting to read about a kind, fun, caring individual who was as awesome as all the the characters he portrays in many of his blockbuster films. Little did I know, after reading this book, I would come away with a sense of disappointment and pity for a movie star I’d come to call one of my favorite actors.
Andrew Morton does an exceptional job bringing Cruise’s journey to life and sharing it with the world. His writing is deep, thoughtful, intelligent, and he manages to stay out of the way, not allowing his perception of Tom Cruise, whether good or bad, to taint the story. It feels as if he’s done his research and brought only the truth to the forefront. In turn, we get to take a closer look at a movie icon who is as controlling as he is controversial.
He is a man that wants to be the leader, taking on all his film projects and relationships as if he is the only one that matters. It seems that he is a very self-centered individual, at times breaking this mold, but mostly sticking to it. Along with this, he’s great at putting on an act and pretending, pretending, pretending.
The thing that had me most interested in Cruise’s story is his obsession with Scientology, a strange and controlling, manipulative and authoritarian religion where one must follow the churches rules to the fullest or else be prepared for a life of constant harassment. Morton does a magnificent job, taking us inside the core of this dominating and rather scary religious sect, that Cruise is only too happy to be a voice for.
It’s disturbing, reading some of the stories that former Scientologists exposed to Morton about their time under this cult-like religion and how it destroyed their lives and broke their families. Despite all of the negative aspects about it, Cruise is its biggest supporter, as he uses every chance he gets to preach about it to anyone who will listen. He shows himself, through interviews and past relationships, to be a needy and lonely man who allows this religion’s top leaders to intersect his life and dictate who he should be with, where he should go and what he should do with his life. All those stories about Katie Holmes practically being auditioned by Scientologists before she could be allowed to proceed in her relationship with Cruise seem all the more believable after reading this. Scientology is using Cruise’s celebrity status and millions of dollars so they can continue taking over people’s lives, and he doesn’t even realize it. Or perhaps he willingly blindfolds himself to the stupidity (apparently aliens do exist, according to this religion), manipulation, control, and damage this religion has had on countless lives. It was a very eye-opening account of a religion that has always been of interest to me, yet I’ve never taking the time to study.
I would say this book is mostly about Cruise’s passion and obsession for Scientology, so if you’re not interested in reading about a very strange and fantastical religion that runs and ruins people’s lives, making people sign contracts saying they’ll never take medicine again and they’ll extricate their relationships with anyone who criticizes their beliefs, then look the other way. But if you find any of the things I’ve spoken about appealing, then read this book. It’s very interesting and will have you soaking up the pages in no time.
I walked away from this book, feeling highly sympathetic and sorry for Cruise. He just seems like a lost person, looking for people to love him. When he found his butt being kissed by Scientology leaders and followers, he was hooked. His word is god to them, in a sense. And in turn, their words are his life blood, controlling him to the point that his every decision is first presented to and considered by his Scientology “friends” (if you can call them that), before he can act. How he can stand up for a religion that goes out of its way to destroy people’s lives, if they even think to criticize or judge Scientology, just baffles me. Read this book, and then take a look at 2012’s movie The Master about L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology), and tell me you don’t think this has to be the craziest and one of the most dangerous cults existing today. How it hooked one of the most famous celebrities of our time is pretty intriguing and will satiate that Hollywood-gossip appetite you may have.
Do I dislike Cruise now? Did this book change my love for his movies? No, this book didn’t change my belief in his excellent acting abilities and movie star power or his exceptional film choices. It served its purpose- to bring to life the story of one of Hollywood’s leading icons. And it only exposed the truth- that behind the celebrity status, Hollywood glamour and money galore lies a man who is just as human as the rest of us and just as flawed.