These days, when people hear the word “Scientology”, this is probably what first comes to mind:
As ebullient as Tom Cruise was when he jumped on Oprah’s couch to proclaim his love for then-girlfriend Katie Holmes, he is, for better or worse, the face of Scientology, and as Leah Remini claims in her book Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, Cruise is also one of the de facto leaders of the controversial “religion.”
That Remini is so openly critical of Cruise and of other church officials comes as something of a surprise, given the reputation of the CoS as being a group that deals with dissenters in no uncertain terms. However, as Leah Remini notes, Scientology holds far less sway over Hollywood as a whole than they’d lead non-members to believe. Inside the church, however, it’s a different story. Celebrity congregants are required to pay exorbitant tithes, for lack of a better word. They are also expected to recruit other celebrities to the religion, as Remini points out when recounting the story of being asked by church leadership to invite friend Jennifer Lopez and Lopez’s then-husband Marc Anthony to Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006.
There is certainly some dishing in this book about the church hierarchy and an interesting behind-the-scenes look at “Mr. Cruise” which paints him as an infantile, spoiled, protected and coddled jerk. But the heart of this book lies in Remini’s humour which is probably what kept her sane through 30+ years in this cult-by-any-other-name (she was brought into the fold as a child by her mother).
I remember Leah Remini from her first appearance on Who’s The Boss back in the mid-80s, which was one of her first roles. I’ve always liked her, and I can still say that after reading this book. She is self-aware enough to admit that she is far, far from perfect, but she remains charming, stubborn, humorous and likeable, which makes her easy to root for as she takes on life outside of Scientology.