After a high-profile book tour that included a blockbuster interview on 20/20, Leah Remini’s memoir about her life in the Church of Scientology, Troublemaker, was released Tuesday. The book is a quick read (the final 50 pages or so are just photos), but covers a lot of ground—from Leah’s mother first explaining Scientology to her at a young age, to her bizarre friendship with Tom Cruise and other celebrities in the church.
But these aren’t the kinds of juicy stories one might see on blind gossip sites. While Lawrence Wright painted a terrifying portrait of Scientology in Going Clear, Remini’s first-person account skips most of the horror and presents the Church as a sad, soul-numbing place led by some people whose behavior is almost too strange to be horrifying.
Though Remini goes into detail about how she came to join the church, her time in the Sea Org, and how she balanced Scientology and her career, her stories about fellow celebrities are why some people (including myself) felt inclined to grab a copy at midnight. Here are some of the most memorable passages.
On being at Tom Cruise’s house when he really wants cookies:
Once when Angelo and I were over, Tom decided he wanted to make cookies. He walked into the kitchen, where a batch of prepackaged cookie dough had been prepared and was sitting on the counter, a perfect loaf ready for cutting and baking. Tom was looking for flour and other ingredients and must not have seen the cookie dough, and he instantly got angry.
“Guys, where’s the cookie stuff?” he said, furrowing his brow.
His assistants came running in wanting to explain that it was right there, on a nearby counter, but all one of them could say was, “Uh, Tom.” They both grew more flustered, and Tom got angry. “Goddamn it!”
Looking at the dough sitting on a cutting board, obvious to all of us except Tom, I wished his assistant would say, “Hey, the stuff is right under your nose, dumb-ass.” But she didn’t. She couldn’t. Instead, Katie whispered something to Tom, who repeated, “Can I just get the stuff for the cookies, guys?”
On how it feels when Tom Cruise asks you to play hide-and-seek:
As the dinners continued and we spent more time with Tom, I came to think of him as a big kid with his loud laugh, high energy, and goofy ideas of fun. Like when he invited some Scientologists and a few other celebrities like Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, to his house and announced he wanted to play hide-and-seek. 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.
“I can’t play—I’m wearing Jimmy Choos,” I said.
“Well, good,” Tom said with his signature grin. “So you’re It, then.” And with that he tagged me and ran to hide.
On finding baby Suri Cruise on the bathroom floor during a wedding:
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. 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 shit together.
On sitting next to Jennifer Lopez at Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s wedding:
Tom stood there with that everything-is-great look plastered on his face even as the crowd grew uncomfortable. Finally Jennifer leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Do you think Katie’s coming?”
On what happens when you ask Tommy Davis (a Scientology official) about Shelly Miscavige:
“You don’t have the rank to be asking about Shelly Miscavige,” he replied, and with that he shut down the conversation.”
On what happens when Katie Holmes doesn’t like how you acted at her wedding:
Jasmine, the MAA conducting the interrogation, showed me the Knowledge Report written by Katie Holmes, in which she referred to my behavior during the wedding weekend as “very upsetting,” and accused me of disrupting the party, which she claimed was a “poor example to others.” She went on to say, “[She] made the party all about her,” and concluded the report with reference to the fact that all of this so-called bad behavior “disturbed me greatly.” Jasmine told me I was a bad example for Scientologists and then asked me, “What do you say about this report?”
“What do I say about this childish report that looks like it was written by a seventh grader with all the exclamation marks?”
On who you think about when you leave Scientology:
During this confusing early period, I sometimes felt adrift, but I had one figure I kept front and center in my mind to keep from going crazy: Nicole Kidman.
That’s right, Tom Cruise’s ex was my guardian angel. Although I never met her or attempted to meet her, I thought about her a lot. While I stared at the dark ceiling at night, unable to sleep, I would say to myself, “Remember Nicole Kidman. She was declared an SP and left the church, and she’s doing okay. Her career is still going, and she has a husband and family… Just remember Nicole Kidman. She left and she’s okay…
But I think my favorite quote had nothing to do with Scientology at all.
On Jennifer Aniston during their early days of acting:
Jennifer Aniston and I had become friendly from seeing each other so much at various auditions. She was normal, unlike most other actresses, who, if you tried to make small talk, like asking where they were from, would accuse you of trying to “psych them out.”
I didn’t expect my main takeaway from a memoir about Scientology to be how friendly Jennifer Aniston is, but here we are.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Getty.