The Church of Scientology officials were telling the beautiful Norwegian blonde in front of the camera that it was all perfectly normal for a training video. The hair and make up team, heavy lip stick and mascara, and a production unit flown in especially from the Church’s headquarters in California.
Anette Iren Johansen had no reason to doubt them. She’d given up her studies to be a veterinary surgeon to follow the Church. She’d spent tens of thousands on courses. She was a dedicated Scientologist.
But, in an exclusive interview with Daily Mail Online, Anette reveals that she unknowingly did what she claims was an audition to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend – and she believes that now that Tom is single after his divorce from Holmes, the screening process could be starting again.
It felt a little weird to have so many people fussing over her for such a minor video, but Anette didn’t ask any questions.She says no one would have told her it was an audition to be the girlfriend of Tom Cruise, the Church’s most famous devotee.
Scroll down for video
Lights! Camera! Action! Anette Iren Johansen thought she was making Scientology training films after her work as a volunteer in Sri Lanka following the tsunami but she says she found out later she was actually ‘auditioning’ to be Tom Cruise’s gal
Going clear: Anette was 27 and had joined Scientology in 2002 after seeing a flier about how the Church and Dianetics can expand the mind and mental capacity
When contacted by Daily Mail Online, the Church of Scientology denied any auditions ever took place.
Anette, originally from Norway but living in Copenhagen, Denmark at the time, explains: ‘There were four people auditioning me from Golden Era Productions – the media production arm of Scientology based in Hemet, California – and local people from Copenhagen helping out. 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 was April 2005. Anette was 27 and had joined Scientology three years earlier after seeing a flier about how the Church and Dianetics can expand the mind and mental capacity.
Anette became more interested in founder L. Ron Hubbard’s exploration into psychology. She quit her veterinary studies and became a loyal follower.
Anette became a member of her local ‘Ideal Org’ in Copenhagen, which is similar to being a regular Church-goer, but with more hidden demands as members are heavily persuaded to part with vast sums of money in return for going further up the Church’s spiritual ladder.
She had already appeared in several Scientology magazine features and may have already been on the radar of high ranking executives including leader David Miscavige, who is always keen to keep its favorite disciple Tom Cruise happy.
The ex-Scientologist came into the spotlight during her trip to Tsunami-hit Sri Lanka in January 2005 with other members from her Ideal Org. A crew from Golden Era Productions came to visit and film the Org’s work in the devastated areas. She was then asked to make a training film for the Church
She came into the spotlight during her trip to tsunami-hit Sri Lanka in January 2005 with other members from her Ideal Org.
A crew from Golden Era Productions came to visit and film the Org’s work in the devastated areas.
She explains: ‘They were filming me doing voluntary work in Sri Lanka just after the tsunami. I was giving aid, putting up tents, that sort of thing, and a team from Golden Era was coming to show that we were on the frontline and doing some good.
‘They then had this videotape of me. Marc Headley [an ex-Scientologist and former head of production at Golden Era] told me later that they had screened all potential girlfriends for Cruise in LA and the US, so were looking abroad, to try to better their prospects. I must have been on their radar. I had already been in a couple of magazines, then the Sri Lankan video, they must have had said: “Who is this girl?”
‘They see this blonde, Norwegian girl, she looks like she’s a dedicated Scientologist, she’s volunteering in Sri Lanka.’
About three months later, Anette, now 38, received a call. They wanted her to audition for a training video. She couldn’t believe her luck.
Chosen: Tom ultimately chose Katie homes to date – and be his bride. The rest, as they say, is history
Broken: When Penelope and Tom split, reportedly because she could not embrace Scientology, the search was on for a new woman
The Church of Scientology has vehemently denied claims made in the book Going Clear, published in 2013, that Tom Cruise auditioned a host of Hollywood beauties including Scarlett Johansson
‘I thought it was pretty exciting. I went to the Org 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 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.
I don’t wear so much make up, I don’t need to. But they had this make up team. They said we had to put on.
‘I thought this is a Scientology training video and I have to put make up, 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.
‘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.’
Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth were also claimed to be among the Hollywood beauties who auditioned for a role in Cruise’s life
‘They sent the tape to LA to Golden Era, they told me this. I didn’t know what to expect, then I received a call about a week later from the manager of this project or whatever he called it. 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.’
At the time, Greg Wilhere was Tom Cruise’s right hand man. He shadowed him everywhere. Such was his influence, Tom even named a character after him in the movie Days Of Thunder.
But Anette knew none of this. To her, it was still an audition for a training video even thought the interrogation seemed strange.
‘He asked if he could ask personal questions. I was with other members, so 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.
‘He said any sexual perversions, I said no. He then asked if I had any homosexuality, any sex with the person of the same sex. He wanted to make sure I knew what he meant by sexual irregularities, so asked about perversions, homosexuality, threesomes, and I said no.
‘He wanted to make sure my sexual record was clean. I didn’t dare ask any questions back because he was very strict.
‘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. He started off with how you doing sort of thing, then I had to give examples of sexual irregularities. I said I didn’t have any.
‘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.
‘A few years later, I read an interview with Paul Haggis [film director and ex-Scientologist] about Tom Cruise and auditions and I thought: “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,’ she claims.
Only one other woman has ever been exposed for performing in a Tom Cruise girlfriend audition even though the Church has apparently run through hundreds of video tapes, according to former Scientologists, including Marc Headley.
THE ‘CASTING COUCH’ AUDITIONS TO FIND TOM CRUISE A NEW BRIDE
The Church of Scientology has vehemently denied claims made in the book Going Clear, published in 2013, that Tom Cruise auditioned a host of Hollywood beauties including Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Bosworth to be his wife before settling on Katie Holmes.
Allegedly disappointed by his split from Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz in 2004 after she failed to embrace Scientology, Cruise, 53, allowed senior members of the church to summon the unwitting stars to read for a non-existent part in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series.
According to Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison Belief, the Top Gun star initiated the unusual casting couch-style marriage interviews after a complaint to his sister at a Scientology church opening in Madrid that no one had been able to find him a new girlfriend.
British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi
The Hollywood mega-star also allegedly made the same complaint to Scientologist leader and his best friend David Miscavige after his three-year relationship with Cruz ended, who according to the book wasted no time in beginning the search for a suitable Mrs. Cruise.
Lawyers for Tom Cruise have vehemently insisted that no such conversations ever occurred while he was in Spain.
However, the tell-all book, penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, alleges that Scientologist matchmakers arranged for ‘auditions’ at the organization’s Celebrity Center in Los Angeles and invited the bevy of what were young and promising actresses.
The book claims that each of the girls including hell-raiser Lohan, who was 18 in 2004, Alba, who is now happily married with two children and Johansson, were not chosen and in 2005 Cruise instead met Katie Holmes and then infamously jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch.
Holmes, who is now 36, split from Cruise in 2012 and took primary custody of their child, Suri.
The book also claims that prior to the auditions of the would-be stars, Cruise was hooked up with British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi, who is now 35 and starred in Homeland.
Vanity Fair magazine’s special correspondent Maureen Orth reported that Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige was part of the search to find Tom Cruise a suitable girlfriend.
The magazine contended that Boniadi was convinced by Scientology leaders that she had been selected for a project that would help further her religion and would lead to her meeting ‘world leaders’ and having an influential role in the church.
Allegedly, top Scientology official Greg Wilhere told the actress to darken her hair, remove her orthodontic braces and that she break up with her long term boyfriend, who was also part of the controversial religion and with whom she was reportedly deeply in love.
When she refused to do that, Wilhere allegedly showed Boniadi evidence that her boyfriend had cheated on her and that led her to break up their relationship.
This may be because most did not even know they were going through an audition or were ordered to keep quiet because they were still in Scientology.
Iranian model Nazanin Boniadi got through the screen test but was cast aside after a couple of months because she supposedly insulted David Miscavige when she couldn’t understand his accent.
If you pass, like Nazanin, you’ll be prepped for your first date or, if you’re like Anette and fail, you’ll never hear from them again.
‘In January, when he broke up with Nazanin, that was about the time I was filming in Sri Lanka. So obviously 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.
‘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.’
Anette finally left Scientology after 10 years with a debt of around $150,000. This included parting with $40,000 during a visit by leader David Miscavige to the Copenhagen Org in 2006.
She was told the money would go to rescue children from psychiatry, Scientology’s main enemy.
After several high profile defections in the late 2000s, Anette became more skeptical of Scientology and planned her route out. In 2012, she stopped donating money, sold her car and apartment, and moved back to Norway.
Today Anette, now 38, is studying pharmacy in Oslo and blogs about her experiences during her decade in Scientology. She also coaches people who have left manipulative groups or relationships.
Anette, now 38, says she left Scientology after 10 years with a debt of around $150,000. This included parting with $40,000 during a visit by leader David Miscavige to the Copenhagen Org in 2006