The Slatest

Girlfriend Auditions, Toothbrush Toilet-Scrubbing, and More From VF’s Scientology Cover Story

Nazanin Boniadi attends Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball 2012 at Radio City Music Hall on March 4, 2012

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Amnesty International

Katie Holmes is on the cover of Vanity Fair’s October issue, but it looks like the magazine’s rather sensational cover story would have been better illustrated by a photo of Nazanin Boniadi. Why? According to the magazine, the Iranian-born, London-raised actress won the real-life role of Tom Cruise’s girlfriend back in 2004 after the church of Scientology held “top-secret” auditions for the opening.

Celebrity relationships are a little out of the Slatest’s wheelhouse, so we won’t go too deep here, but given the interest in Cruise and Holmes’ now failed marriage, along with what role Scientology played in it, the VF story is already commanding lots of digital ink—and the story by special correspondent Maureen Orth isn’t even online yet.

A preview/press release for the cover story is currently claiming the top slot on the site’s “most popular” list, and it’s brought a trio of other Cruise-related posts into the top five along with it. In the process, the report has been picked up by American outlets like ABC News and the AtlanticWire, and a number of foreign outlets to boot.

We’ll let VF offer the tease:

“According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: ‘What do you think of Tom Cruise?’ Marc Headley, a Scientologist from age seven, who says he watched a number of the audition videotapes when he was head of Scientology’s in-house studio, tells Orth, ‘It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology.’”

The winner of that process was Boniadi, who is perhaps best known for a nine-episode arc on How I Met Your Mother during which she played Nora, Barney’s love interest. Given she was already a Scientologist, she seemed like a good fit. But the fairy tale, if you can call it that (and if you believe VF, you definitely can’t call it that), lasted for only about three months:

“Though the first month of the relationship was bliss, by the second month Boniadi was more and more often found wanting, Orth reports. According to the knowledgeable source, anything she said or did that Cruise found fault with he immediately reported to a member of the Scientology staff, and she would be audited for it. This began with her very first words to him, ‘Very well done,’ regarding his receiving Scientology’s Freedom Medal of Valor. The phrase implied that Cruise was her junior. According to the knowledgeable source, Boniadi also offended Scientology chief David Miscavige, who speaks rapidly, because she kept saying, ‘Excuse me?’ when she was entertaining him and his wife during a visit to Telluride. In Scientology, the ability to have your communication ‘land’ is crucial. Boniadi was excoriated by Cruise for disrespecting Miscavige.”

So how’s this story end?

“When a friend at a Scientology center in Florida, where Boniadi was subsequently sent, asked why she was crying all the time, Boniadi broke down and told her about her relationship with Cruise, which she had been forbidden to do. According to the knowledgeable source, the friend reported her. Boniadi’s punishment was to scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. After that she was sent out to sell Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics on street corners. Boniadi and her mother are no longer involved in Scientology.”

Scientology officials are denying most of the article’s claims, including the girlfriend auditions and the notion that they punish members for misdeeds.