I honestly cannot think of a single thing that Scientology has done that has been given positive press. Whatever they do seems to always be met with controversy, shock, and disbelief. Tom Cruise is their poster boy, always standing proudly in the limelight of the church and drawing more attention to the organization. Scientology has found itself scrutinized by the press and those outside of the church. It has been called a cult, a place which drains people's money, and a place which separates families, amongst so much more.
On top of the growing mountain of controversy surrounding Scientology, a woman has now come forward who was once a member of the church. She claims that she was forced by the organization into auditioning to be Tom Cruise's wife. Speaking exclusively with The Mail Online, Anette Iren Johansen claimed that she was courted by the church in 2005, before Tom famously married Katie Holmes. And the craziest part is that she had no idea that she was auditioning to be Mrs. Cruise.
Before Scientology, Anette's life was heading in a very different direction. Her plan was to become a veterinary nurse, but she decided to give it all up. This decision came in 2005, after she saw a flier advertising how Scientology can expand the mind and mental capacity. After joining the church and throwing away her original choice of career, Anette chose to spend thousands of dollars on Scientology courses to prove to herself and the church just how devoted she was.
So what reason would she have to doubt the church when they told her that they wanted to use her for a 'training video'?
"I was told I was doing an audition for a series of training films, I was never told the real reason. I was thinking that it could be exciting as I'd never done it before."
It all seemed as normal as normal can be within the realms of this church.
There was a hair and makeup team flown to her hometown in Norway from California, along with a production unit.
"I thought it was pretty exciting. I went there and I had normal looking clothes on, I don't wear so much make up, I don't need to. I don't wear lip stick or mascara. But they had this make up team. They said we had to put it on. They had a big box of make up and brushes. They didn't want me to look completely natural.
I stopped them when they wanted more and more make up, I said this is enough, I wanted to look like myself, not someone else. They were insistent. They wanted me to look perfect, the best they can get me. When the Sea Org are given an order, they need to deliver, comply; they were pressured to make me look perfect. I was a little bit shocked, they were trying to change me."
At first, Anette just thought she was doing her part for the church.
"I thought, this is a Scientology training video and I have to put make up on, come on. I was shocked. I've seen a lot of crazy things in Scientology, so I thought whatever. So I just went with it, but it was awkward. They were working under pressure to a deadline, they were in a rush, everything had to be perfect, it's just normal in Scientology. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement when I did something for a Scientology magazine earlier. You have to sign a waiver, that everything taped, photographed, they own it. You give them the rights to use whatever they capture of you."
She had no idea what was really happening
"They then turned on the camera and started asking questions like 'tell us about yourself, your family, what you've done in life.' I told them about my education, what I'd done in Scientology. I was just answering as best I could, I was a little embarrassed. I told them about all the Church courses I'd done, I just wanted to show how dedicated I am. They weren't very specific at this point. No questions about training, they told me it was strictly confidential, they couldn't tell me what the film was, 'that's a secret, we just want you to play a role in it.' I couldn't ask questions about it."
A few weeks after the audition, Anette received a disturbing call from Tom Cruise's right hand man
"I recall his name was Greg Wilhere. I was a little bit scared. I felt he had real authority, it was more like an interrogation, he was very sharp. He said he had some questions for me. He asked if he could ask personal questions. I was with other members, so we left the room and went into another and locked the door. That's when it started. 'Do you have any history of sexual irregularities?' I said: 'What do you mean?' And in my head, I'm thinking: 'Did he really ask that question?'
He wanted to make sure I knew what he meant by sexual irregularities, so asked about perversions, homosexuality, threesomes, and I said no."
The young Scientologist wondered what was going on
"I was thinking he needed to check it because if I'm going to be part of this training video, then maybe later they find out I'm not clean, they will have to re-film it. I justified it in my head that they needed to do this to make sure that it's all ok. I knew they could have access to my folders, so I couldn't lie. I didn't feel good about it, I felt it was too personal to ask.
After that, nothing happened. I didn't hear anything and didn't tell anyone as I was told it was a secret project, so didn't say anything."
Then everything clicked for Annette after reading an interview with film director and ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis explaining the process. She remembers thinking:
"Oh My God that's exactly the process I went through. I kept it a secret for years as I didn't think it was true, that they had really come to Copenhagen to do this. But they had!
They were auditioning girls, but then he began dating Katie Holmes in April, so maybe they wanted a back-up plan if things didn't work out. It would make sense. They don't leave anything to chance when it comes to Tom Cruise."
How many girls auditioned for the real life part of Mrs. Cruise?
"I don't know how many were auditioned in Europe, I was the only one in Denmark I think. Of course, they don't tell you that it's an audition. You'll never know it's for Tom Cruise. I had no clue. I would never do anything like that, it would be totally crazy."
You may be thinking this is a bunch of crazy, but Annette is not the only woman who has been exposed as someone forced into an audition to be Mrs. Cruise.
Remember Tom Cruise's ex girlfriend Nazanin Boniadi. There have been wide reports that she too was selected and auditioned for the part of Mrs. Cruise. Back in 2011 Vanity Fair published an article which literally is a parallel of Annette's claims. It was Greg Wilhere who told her she was taking part in a hush-hush audition and the church then took her shopping so that she looked immaculate for her audition. Seems eerily familiar, right? She was made to remove her braces at the time and ditch her boyfriend before she began to date Cruise. But this is a whole other story, which can be read here.
So how can you tell if you may be a potential Mrs. Cruise? In Anette's words:
"My advice to any potential Tom Cruise interviewee is that they are never honest, they have a hidden purpose, they'll invite you in, but they want something from you. You will be told you're doing this special work. They will claim they can connect you or make you higher up, but it's for their own purposes. They took all my money. They promised you'll have this wonderful career, we have all these connections. They hide what they're doing, they hide behind this perfect facade. If you're called up for a training video from the production company, be on the look out. If they're giving you compliments, they say you're a very important person, you know they want to use you for their own purposes. You'll never know it's a Tom Cruise audition, you think it will be a reward for being dedicated."
After ten years in the church, Annette decided it was time to leave her faith behind. Being part of Scientology left her $150,000 in debt; added to this, she paid a $40,000 to David Miscavige at the Copenhagen Org. in 2006. She now uses her past experiences from being in the church to help others. Anette has decided to coach people who have left manipulative groups or relationships. You can read more about her story on her blog here.