By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When British documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux was unable to gain access to the Church of Scientology for a new film, he opted for what he thought would be the next best thing - to reenact scenes based on the memories of a former member. "My Scientology Movie," in U.S. theaters now, employs dramatizations and re-enactments of church practices in an attempt to give viewers an inside look at an organization that has so far kept filmmakers at arm's length. Theroux hired actors to stage scenes that he said were scripted by former senior Scientology member Marty Rathbun - who has written books and appeared in documentaries after leaving the religion - and his recollections of the church and its leader, David Miscavige.
Louis Theroux has swiftly become Britain’s most popular and most incisive documentarian, managing to disarm his subjects with his dry with and gawky British charm. Theroux’s new movie sees him venture into the dark heart of Scientology, but he’s trodden on dangerous ground before.
Louise Theroux said he thinks the Church of Scientology is “more scary” than reviled hate group the Westboro Baptist Church. In the film he tries and fails to enter the Church’s LA-based HQ, recreates scenes of alleged abuse by church leaders, and ends up pursued by Scientology members who are also making a documentary about him. It’s not the first time Theroux has delved into controversial American religious groups.
Marty Rathbun, the former high-ranking Scientology executive who is the subject of Louis Theroux’s new feature-length documentary, has accused the filmmakers of deception. Rathbun, who was at one time right hand to the church’s leader David Miscavige and ‘audited’ Tom Cruise, says that Theroux and Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn used him as ‘bait’ with which to ‘incite the wrath of the Church of Scientology’. Rathbun has been a vocal critic of Miscavige church since he left it in 2004, often using his blog Moving On Up A Little Higher as an outlet for his criticisms.