Sep. 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM ET
Hollywood is full of auditions, but back in 2004 a very unusual casting call was allegedly put out for young women: The Church of Scientology wanted to find a potential spouse for Tom Cruise.
That's according to the new issue of Vanity Fair magazine, which features a cover story ("What Katie Didn't Know: Marriage, Scientology-Style") about the reported audition process. According to the article, a secret project was initiated within Scientology to get Cruise, perhaps Scientology's highest-profile member, a girlfriend and potential wife. Scientology members were brought in to audition for a training film, then asked what they knew about the "Top Gun" actor.
Finding the right Scientologist for Cruise was crucial, according to former head of Scientology's in-house studio Marc Headley, who said he watched several audition tapes. "You can't do anything to displease Scientology, because Tom Cruise will freak out," he told Vanity Fair. (For the record, Scientology reps deny there was a search, and Cruise declined an interview with the magazine.)
"The allegations about the Church supposedly 'auditioning' prospective brides for Tom Cruise is a false piece of gossip that has been floating around the tabloids for several years sourced to a group of anti-Scientologists," a Scientology rep told NBCNews in a statement.
According to Vanity Fair, Scientologists thought they found the right woman for Cruise in Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born actress and then-Scientologist who has appeared on shows like "How I Met Your Mother." The two dated for several months, during which the article says she reported back to an official about every detail of their lives together, and signed multiple confidentiality agreements. But the two didn't mesh, and eventually she was asked to move out, told by a Scientology official, "Naz, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
Reportedly, Boniadi confided in a Scientology friend about the relationship, and when officials found out she was punished with manual, menial labor such as digging ditches and cleaning toilets with a toothbrush. A Scientology spokesperson told Vanity Fair, "The Church does not punish people, especially in (that) manner."
Boniadi has since left Scientology. Cruise wed actress Katie Holmes in 2006; the couple's divorce was finalized in August.