After famously walking away from the church in 2013, having been a member for more than 30 years, Remini has not been shy about exposing what she perceives as abusive behavior from Scientology's leaders. But in Troublemaker, she lays it all bare, chronicling in painful detail the amount of money and time she donated to the church, only to be blacklisted when she started questioning the organization's techniques and challenging one of its most prominent members, Tom Cruise.
There are plenty of anecdotes about Cruise in Troublemaker, but one gets the sense that Remini has enough material in the vault to fill a separate book entirely dedicated to the Mission Impossible star. Remini says she was welcomed into Cruise's inner circle after she donated $1 million to the International Association of Scientologists. (She notes that Kirstie Alley and John Travolta, other Scientology A-listers, were never part of Cruise's entourage because it was rumored that "Tom didn't like them.") Some of her more eyebrow-raising memories are as follows:
-Remini's discomfort that two Sea Org members were always present at Tom Cruise's house, even during informal dinner parties. "It was hard to place, but there was an energy in the air, like we were being watched," Remini writes. "I had my own theory; it was to make sure nothing upset Tom, and if it did, to immediately report it to the church, specifically to David Miscavige." After one dinner, one of the observers submitted a "Knowledge Report" to church leaders noting that Remini's husband, Angelo, had made a joke about another celebrity in front of Cruise.
-The time Cruise insisted on playing hide-and-seek with some dinner guests, including other Scientologists as well as Jada Pinkett Smith. "At first I thought he was joking, but no, he literally wanted to play hide-and-seek with a bunch of grown-ups in what was probably close to a 7,000-square-foot house on almost three full acres of secluded land," Remini writes. (She refused to participate because she was wearing Jimmy Choos.)
-The time Cruise berated his assistant for not getting cookie dough when he wanted to make cookies. (In actuality, it was sitting in front of him on the kitchen counter but he didn't notice it.) According to Remini: "Tom raised his hand above his head. 'LRH' [Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard] is here,' he said, then lowered his hand to his chin and said, 'And Dave [Scientology leader David Miscavige] and I are here.' Then, with his hand down at his waist, he said, 'And you are here.'"
-At Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes, members of his entourage were continually trying to separate Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony from Remini and her husband, even though Cruise had specifically asked Remini to invite them and they didn't know anyone else there. "The only explanation I could come up with was that they viewed me as just a springboard for Tom and Katie to get to Jennifer and Marc and for the church to get to them for recruitment," she writes.
-Remini's recollection of hearing 7-month-old Suri crying from a bathroom during the wedding ceremony: "When I opened the door, I found three women, including Tom's sister and his assistant, standing over the baby, who was lying on the tile floor," Remini writes. "I didn't know if they were changing her diaper or what, but the three women were looking at her like they thought she was L. Ron Hubbard incarnate. Rather than talking to her in a soothing voice, they kept saying, 'Suri! Suri!' in a tone that sounded like they were telling an adult to get her sh-- together."
-On their way to the airport after the wedding, Remini and her husband shared a van with Cruise's older children, Connor and Bella. Remini took the opportunity to ask them about their mother, Nicole Kidman, and wondered if they saw much of her. "Not if I have a choice," Bella responded, according to Remini. "Our mom is a f---ing SP (Scientology's term for Suppressive Person, or someone who is hostile to the church)."
But it's not just the Tom Cruise material that is disturbing. Remini's involvement with Scientology dates back to when she was a young girl in Brooklyn and her mother began dating a man who was a member. She recalls that her mother's subsequent interest in Scientology became more than just a hobby, and carried over to the rules in their household. "If Nic and I got into a physical fight over, let's say, whether to watch Solid Gold or Fantasy Island, Mom would shout, 'You guys do TR-0,' which meant we had to sit and look at each other until we loved each other again," Remini recalls about getting into fights with her sister. "Sometimes it took a while."
Here are the wildest reveals about Scientology from Troublemaker:
1. The Tone Scale. Scientology assesses people according to their level on the "Tone Scale," which is a measurement of a person's emotional state that ranges from 40.0 at the top ("Serenity of Beingness") to 40.0 at the bottom ("Total Failure"). Those who are below 2.0 ("Antagonism") are considered a detriment to themselves and others. Remini and others were tasked with measuring strangers' tones as part of an exercise for a course on the Tone Scale. "You had to stop complete strangers on Hollywood Boulevard, get them to answer questions, and then assess their tone: 2.5 for Boredom, .7 for Hopeless," she writes. "We were sent out with clipboards and required to pretend that we needed people to answer questions for a survey being conducted by the Hubbard Such-and-Such Research Center, but it was all just a ruse for us to practice assessing different tone levels." According to Remini, Scientology's well-documented opposition to homosexuality also relates to the Tone Scale. On the Scale, homosexuality is a 1.1 on the scale ("Covert Hostility"), which, according to Remini, "is considered by Scientologists to be a person avoided at all costs."
2. Auditing. The process by which Scientologists unveil "hidden pain, stress, or anxiety," known as auditing, is conducted in sessions that range from 20 minutes to 20 hours. The person being audited is referred to as a PC ("preclear"), and answers a series of questions while holding two empty "cans" that are hooked up to an electropsychometer. "It is believed that the thoughts in a person's mind affect the flow of energy between the cans and cause the needle on the dial to move," Remini writes. Any movement in the needle indicates an issue that needs to be discussed and overcome.
3. Couples counseling. When Remini confessed to church authorities that she was having an affair with a married man (who later became her husband), they told her she could undo the damage she had caused by paying for him and his wife to go to couples counseling provided by the church. It cost her $5,000.
4. Silent births. Scientologists advocate for silent births without the use of drugs because of the fear that anything said during labor will be recorded in the baby's "reactive mind, the place where pain is stored." Women are allowed to make sounds during birth, but not say actual words.
5. Contact assists. After Remini's daughter, Sofia, was born, high-ranking officials in the church advised that Remini should not react to any pain her daughter suffered, but instead offer a "Contact Assist": placing the injured body part against the object that injured it. "So if she hit her leg on the corner of the coffee table, I was supposed to remain quiet and gently touch the hurt part of her leg to the exact spot on the table where she hit it - and continue to repeat that action until she said it was better," Remini writes.
6. Transgressions. Not unlike the Catholic concept of reconciliation, Scientologists are required to divulge their past transgressions. When Remini worked at Scientology headquarters as a teen, she used to steal food including custard and hamburgers from the dining hall. When she confessed to this "transgression" 20 years later during an auditing session, her auditor ordered her to pay the church $40,000. After the Cruise/Holmes wedding, Remini's insistence that she and Jennifer Lopez sit together went on her permanent Scientology record as a "transgression." She was later reprimanded by church authorities for unbecoming behavior at the wedding, and forced to undergo weeks of auditing as well as send apology notes to Holmes and some of the other guests.
Troublemaker is available now. What do you think of Remini's recollections?