One night about seven years ago, the actor Jason Beghe stumbled upon his own Wikipedia page. At the bottom he found a four-word phrase that nauseated him: “Public supporter of Scientology.” Beghe, who currently stars in the hit NBC show Chicago P.D., had left the church in disgust months earlier, though he hadn’t yet made that public. “I wrote a non-confrontational assertion that I wasn’t a Scientologist anymore, and Wikipedia kept rejecting it,” he says. “My buddy explained the information had to be verified.”
Beghe decided to take more dramatic action. He posted a two-hour video on YouTube in which he claimed the organization was “very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution.” The video shot around the world. It also put him in Scientology’s crosshairs. (They call Beghe “unreliable, dishonest and biased,” and group him with other former members who have spoken out against the church. Click here to read a detailed letter where they respond to the allegations that Beghe makes in this Q&A.)
A journeyman character actor who’s had roles in everything from Thelma & Louise to G.I. Jane, Beghe is the most charismatic talking head in Going Clear, the new Scientology documentary from director Alex Gibney. In the film, Beghe rails at the church in a raspy tough-guy voice (it was damaged after he yanked tubes out of his throat while hospitalized for a 1999 car accident). But Going Clear reveals only part of his story, and he phoned up Rolling Stone to tell us more.
What did you think of Going Clear?
I’ve only had time to see a rough cut on my iPad. I’m also not the guy to ask since it’s all old news to me. I suspect it’s going to be effective as a movie and parts are really eye-opening. I think it provides useful evidence and information to make people think twice about getting involved in Scientology. And hopefully if someone is involved, this might start greasing the path for them to get out.
I think a lot of people who see this will learn things they never knew.
The funny thing is that it’s all out there, but it’s in Lawrence Wright’s book or these small chatrooms. People find movies more accessible.
I suppose before the Internet it was a lot easier for anyone to suppress information.
Yeah, they tried in the beginning, but they’re so incompetent at handling these things. They always use a hammer. They don’t have any fine tools. They’re very rough. There was a great description of them by a guy in Anonymous. He said they’re constantly shooting foot bullets. Every time they try to handle something, they shoot themselves in the foot. You can almost count on them to do it.
They must be doing something right if they’re continuing to make all this money.
Well, yeah, if you find that rewarding. There’s easier ways to make money. I just think there’s some kind of evil intention at the root of it if that’s how you chose to do it.