My Scientology Movie isn’t exactly narrative, but it isn’t a straight documentary, either. The 2015 film, released this month in the U.S. and available now on Amazon Prime, mixes interviews with former members and dramatic reenactments to illustrate the alleged abuses they suffered at the hands of the church. “The structure was a function of the fact that we couldn’t get access to the subject,” writer Louis Theroux tells Rolling Stone, referring to the church’s notoriously tight lips. “It became clear that we needed to take a different approach.”
Theroux and his co-writer and director John Dower sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss this method, as well as what they learned about the church by making the film. “The thing that struck me most was just how humorless they are,” says Dower. “The Scientologists I came across appeared to have no sense of humor, or irony.”
But, they joke, perhaps church leader David Miscavige is really a closet fan of Theroux, who is known for his BBC documentary series Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekend where he investigates misunderstood communities and subcultures. “That guy was a lot better when he did the one on the porn industry,” jokes Theroux, in a mock-Miscavige voice. “That was a good episode. Now this stuff’s just drivel.”
The Church of Scientology did not reply to a request for comment.
Louis Theroux and ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun visit ex-Scientologist Tom De Vocht and discuss Scientology leader David Miscavige in ‘My Scientology Movie.’