The day Tom Cruise tried to recruit Seth Rogen into Scientology

In a resurfaced clip, the Canadian actor jokes about how the ‘Top Gun’ star offered to tell him about what the religion is ‘really about’

Actors Seth Rogen and Tom Cruise.
Actors Seth Rogen and Tom Cruise.Daniele Venturelli / Jeff Spicer (Getty)

Tom Cruise may be a blockbuster star, but he’s not exactly known for any comedic movies. That’s why the Hollywood actor approached Judd Apatow, director of the comedic hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Seth Rogen, a Canadian actor and comedian, back in the early 2000s. But according to Rogen, no plan for a comedy emerged from the meeting, but Cruise did try to recruit him to the Church of Scientology.

In a resurfaced clip from a 2021 interview on The Howard Stern Show, Stern asks Rogen about the “bizarre” meeting, which took place around the time that Cruise was married to Katie Holmes (whom he would divorce in 2012). “A few hours into the meeting, the Scientology stuff comes up,” said Rogen, who added: “I’m a huge Tom Cruise fan. I see every Tom Cruise movie.”

The Superbad actor said that Cruise told him that the press was making him look bad because he was costing the pharmaceutical industry so much money – Scientologists believe that illnesses are largely psychosomatic and are hostile to medicine. According to Rogen, Cruise said: “It’s like with Scientology. If you let me just tell you what it was really about, just give me like 20 minutes to, like, really just tell you what it was about. You would say, ‘No fucking way. No fucking way.’”

“I remember being like, is that a good thing to be saying?” said Rogen, laughing.

The Canadian actor said after Cruise made his offer, there was a “very loaded moment,” in which he was not sure whether he or Apatow would be able to turn the Top Gun star down. “Can we come out of this? Are we strong enough to have him do this to us and not be converted?” he recalled thinking. “If they got him [Cruise], what chance do I have?” joked Rogen, who described himself as a “generally a weak-willed, weak-minded person.”

“Thank God Judd was like, ‘I think we’re good. Let’s just talk about movies and stuff.’ Woof. Dodged that bullet,” said Rogen.

Tom Cruise was first introduced to Scientology in 1986 thanks to his first wife, Mimi Rogers (they were married between 1987 and 1990). His commitment to the religion even led him to buy and reform the English mansion that was the former home of Scientology founder Ron Hubbard, according to The Telegraph. “Scientologists are told that Cruise is saving the world single-handedly, so he is considered a deity within Scientology,” said actress Leah Remini, a former member of the church, in the series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Among Hollywood’s stars, Scientology has both detractors and defenders. Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, left the church in 2012. Paul Haggis, the screenwriter of One Million Dollar Baby, also left, explaining his reasons in a 2009 letter. Writer William Burroughs, one of the main figures of the Beat Generation, was part of the church in the 1960s, but later abandoned the faith, arguing it didn’t allow critical discussion. Celebrities who are members of Scientology include John Travolta, Elisabeth Moss, Kelly Preston, Giovanni Ribisi, Jenna Elfman and Erika Christensen. A list that, for now, does not include Seth Rogen.

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