It’s not the first time filmmakers risked their lives to write an exposé on Scientology. The Scientology members denounced HBO’s Going Clear, which indirectly gave the documentary more publicity. So when Louis Theroux decided to create a documentary about the so-called religion, the members were quick to dismiss Theroux’s attempts and threaten him with legal action. Despite their antics, the film was still made and Theroux did an AMA on Reddit about the film.
Here are eight things we learned about Scientology and Theroux:
1. Scientology recruiting deliberately exploits your weaknesses
Theroux explains how the cult preys on a member’s weakness. “The process of bringing in new members is sometimes called ‘find their ruin’ – find the soft spot of vulnerability that Scn tech can “fix”. But it varies from person to person.”
2. Members leaving the church makes Scientologists really mad
Theroux observed a large amount of “vitriol hate” from members directed toward former members, especially Mark Rathbun [a former senior executive of the Church of Scientology]. He notes, “the nastiness is unreal.”
3. Speaking of Rathbun….
He’s one “complicated dude.” In the film, Rathbun is Theroux’s lead and is an ex-member in the Scientology community. “One of the things I enjoy in the movie is the journey we go on together and the way he wasn’t shy about calling BS on me – his ’emotional availability.'”
4. The scariest moment he had while doing a documentary
“Auditioning for a Norwegian cruiseliner!” He later answered the same question (perhaps more seriously…) and clarified that “for physical safety”, the skinhead music festival caused him some anxiety.
5. His upcoming three documentaries will focus on crime in America.
The topics include “Murder in Milwaukee, Sex Trafficking in Houston, and Opioid Addiction.”
6. Theroux wouldn’t mind going into fiction
His dad and brother are fiction writers. He sees it as “a family business.”
7. Aggression towards outsiders and journalists is common for Scientology.
Theroux noted, “Scn views the journalists as little better than ‘sexual perverts’. We are both 1.1 on the tone scale (speaking as a journalist and pervert).”
8. The Scientologists are definitely watching him
When asked whether the church was probably reading the AMA, Theroux responded simply: “yes.”