Has Tom Cruise drifted away from the Church of Scientology as Mission Impossible star becomes a recluse during Covid?

SPIRALLING budgets and delays have sparked major woes for studio chiefs as the latest Mission Impossible film continues to grind along painfully slowly.

But it’s the major lifestyle changes of its producer and ­leading man Tom Cruise that have raised most eyebrows.

The prolific filmmaker — who boasts more than £10billion in box office takings — has become uncharacteristically reclusive. And most surprisingly of all, he has appeared to drift away from the Church of Scientology.

The controversial religion, founded by American sci-fi author L Ron Hubbard, has been a mainstay of his visits to the UK for decades.

On previous trips Tom has been a regular at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead — its British headquarters.

The star was heavily involved in an expensive renovation of the site in 2015, and is understood to have stayed there while filming and working over here — flying back and forth to ­London and elsewhere from the 18th Century pile in his private helicopter.

But this time, things appear to be ­different. Instead of basing ­himself at the property, Tom, 59, has not been seen in the area at all.

He is keeping himself entirely off the radar — first at a smart apartment in Knightsbridge where he was able to enter discreetly through an underground car park, and more recently at a secluded home in the Kent countryside close to Biggin Hill airport, within easy reach of his private jet.

He is not thought to have visited Saint Hill Manor once — and film sources suspect his change in outlook could be linked to a falling out of love with Scientology amid the Covid pandemic.

In public, the church says it has no official position on vaccinations, but it is understood that many of the group are reluctant to take jabs and avoid conventional medical treatment.

In a section titled How To Prevent The Spread Of Illness With Isolation, its official website tells followers, “An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure,” but does not specifically refer to vaccines at all.

And a senior set source explained: “Tom appears extremely withdrawn at the moment — he’s really keeping ­himself to himself, but something seems to have changed. He’s obviously under a great deal of pressure with this film and the studio are now getting on the case because things are so delayed and apparently over-budget.

“It isn’t really anyone’s fault and Tom has a long history of making incredible films that more than justify the big costs, but there’s no doubt things are weighing on his shoulders just now.”

The Sun previously revealed the extent of Tom’s anxiety when a leaked on-set tape recording of the superstar berating staffers emerged. It earned him praise from many for his insistence on sticking to Covid protocols to avoid further delays. But the insider added: “What’s really surprising this time around is what he’s up to away from the set.

“He’s usually at the Scientology mansion a lot, which seems to be how he likes to relax, and then also out and about in London. It’s quite surprising that he hasn’t been to the football while he’s here, because he usually loves to get ­in­vol­ved in big events while he’s in town.

“He has the helicopter so he can go anywhere very quickly, but he hasn’t been to East Grinstead at all. A number of us wonder if the Covid situation and his religious beliefs are pulling him in different directions with so much pressure in­volved in getting this film finished.”

The superstar has been an active member of the church since 1990 — after being introduced by his first wife Mimi Rogers. He has since often spoken out in support of the organisation. The church’s most senior figure David Miscavige was best man at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes, 42, though the marriage later collapsed with the actress saying she wanted to protect their daughter, Suri, now 15, from Scientology.

Tom is continuing to work on the new Mission Impossible film despite several crew members quitting in the wake of his furious tirade over a breach in social distancing and mask-wearing protocol — following two lengthy previous delays.

The Sun revealed in December how, having spotted two of the crew standing within two metres of each other at the set in Leavesden, Herts, Tom raged: “I am beyond your apologies. We are not shutting this f*ing movie down. Is it understood? “If I see it again, you’re fing gone. And so are you. So you’re gonna cost him his job.

“Do you understand the responsibility that you have? Because I will deal with your reason, and if you can’t be reasonable, and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired. That’s it.”



'There was a lot at stake at that point'

Tom, who plays spy Ethan Hunt in the hit franchise, later stood by his outburst, telling film magazine Empire: “I said what I said.” He added: “There was a lot at stake at that point. All those emotions were going through my mind.

“I was thinking about the people I work with, and my industry. And for the whole crew to know that we’d started rolling on a movie was just a huge relief.”

But despite production coming to an end — under increasing time and financial constraints — major wrangles behind the scenes continue to spark disputes.

A key planned scene involving a train crashing over a quarry ledge, which had cost huge sums to construct, is now understood to be facing the axe — angering the star, who saw the pivotal moment as a major set piece.

There is also growing anger among locals near Darlton Quarry in Derbyshire over repeated road closures and ­disruptions around the set site.

And only weeks ago the entire production was halted for several weeks — prompting speculation among ­crew members whether Tom himself may have tested positive for Covid.




As one put it: “If it was anyone else, we’d have ploughed on. We can’t afford another hold up.” Despite the troubles, it’s understood Tom has enjoyed an increasingly close relationship with British co-star Hayley Atwell, 39, after hitting it off on set.

Tom, who also has two adopted children with second wife Nicole Kidman, has been single since his 2012 break-up from Katie — despite briefly being linked to actresses ­Elisabeth Moss and Laura Prepon.

Stunning Captain America star Hayley previously dated model Evan Jones, and was in a romance with a British doctor until early last year. A spokesman for the actress has declined to comment on her closeness with Cruise, while a rep for the actor did not respond.

SECT’S SCI-FI ROOTS

THE Church of Scientology was created by American science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1953.

Three years earlier he had written self-help book Dianetics, which explored the links between the mind and the body. Hubbard was the church’s leader until his death, aged 74, in 1986, when David Miscavige, 61, took over.

Followers of Scientology believe people are “immortal alien beings” called thetans who are trapped on Earth in their human form.

They believe each thetan has lived a number of lives, prior to this one, both on Earth and on other planets.

Through the practice of Scientology, readings and classes known as auditing, members believe they can “free themselves of their human form and reclaim their true selves”.

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