Recently, Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis participated in a lengthy New Yorker interview in which he condemned his former religion, Scientology, calling it a cult and detailing the organization's indecent practices.
Also this month, word resurfaced about There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson's previously-on-hold Scientology movie The Master starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman as an L. Ron Hubbard-like religious leader who shepherds a young and troubled adherent into his Scientology-modeled cult called "The Cause." Apparently billionairess Megan Ellison, the 25-year-old daughter of Oracle boss Larry Ellison, is on board to finance the picture.
While Anderson's film is inspired by Scientology's beginnings in the 1950s and '60s, when Hubbard spent years aboard a yacht writing his religious texts and allegedly consuming heroic amounts of drugs, we wondered what interest Haggis might have in writing a present-day film account of Scientology, now that he's speaking out against his former church.
Because we have some ideas about how to cast the major characters.
Role (in flashback): L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology
Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Unfortunately the veteran actor Don S. Davis, known for his roles in Stargate SG-1 and Twin Peaks, died in 2009. The veteran actor would have made a perfect Hubbard--he very closely resembled him. But Hoffman would undoubtedly be the next logical choice, and obviously Anderson recognized that potential.
We think John Travolta would also make an excellent Hubbard; his characterization as Brig. Gen. Quintard in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line was very Hubbard-esque. But that would take Travolta officially leaving the church.
Role (in flashback): Mary Sue Hubbard, third wife of L.R.H.
Actress: Melissa Leo
Reese Witherspoon is already attached to Anderson's film for the same role. But we think Leo's particularly hot right now given her stellar turn in The Fighter and her ongoing role in HBO's Treme. She even has an eerie resemblance to Mary Sue.
Role: David Miscavige, Chairman, Religious Technology Center
Actor: Eric Roberts
Roberts has the maniacal charisma it takes to play a role like Miscavige, Scientology's leader, Hubbard's protégé and the church's most powerful player. He was the guy who announced Hubbard's death to church members in 1986, saying Hubbard had decided to "discard" his physical body in order to complete more "research." Miscavige was Tom Cruise's best man at his wedding to Katie Holmes.
Check out Miscavige ranting about psychiatry. Roberts would own this role.
Role: Tom Cruise
Actor: Jeremy Renner
Think about it. Had Cruise been younger, he would have been a strong contender for Renner's role in The Hurt Locker. Plus, just like Cruise, there were questions swirling about Renner's sexual orientation after he announced that he was taking his mother as a date to last year's Oscars. Renner's already been nominated for two Academy Awards. Cruise has three noms. He's Cruise's spiritual heir (and a better actor).
Second Choice: Jake Gyllenhaal
Role: Katie Holmes
Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Of course, looking at The Dark Knight it's a no brainer, but if Renner didn't work out; that'd be weird.
Role: John Travolta Actor: Nicolas Cage
Isn't it obvious? No question Cage can play Travolta (Look no further than Face/Off for proof), but would he? Probably not. Cage's affiliation with Scientology is hazy. His former wife Lisa Marie Presley is a Scientologist, so no doubt he knows his way around the Celebrity Centre. But wait, here's the other thing: Is there any role Cage will currently turn down? His financial woes have led to a period in which he'll take just about any role--leading to hits like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Kick-Ass, to schlock like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Season of the Witch.
The only thing predictable about Cage is his unpredictability.
Role: Tommy Davis, head of Celebrity Centre International, son of actress Anne Archer
Actor: Colin Farrell
Davis is currently the Church's go-to guy for damage-control interviews, but inevitably, he seems to wind up causing even more damage. Plus, Davis always looks like he hasn't slept in days. We think Colin Farrell's off-the-cuff, disheveled demeanor would make for a great portrayal of the Scientology spokesman.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Of course, there would be a better actor for the job. Tom Cruise. Davis himself seems to have modeled his public speaking after Cruise's. In the video below, watch Davis (at the 3:40 mark) put on his Cruise face when ABC's Martin Bashir asks him about Xenu.