An ex-member of the controversial Church of Scientology says he witnessed a bitter rivalry between A-list actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and claims he was severely mistreated for interacting with one of the stars.
Brendan Tighe, 37, gave an exclusive account of his time around “Scientology VIPs” to the Daily Mail after spending 30 years as a dedicated follower of the religion. The secretive Church of Scientology is infamous for attracting celebrity followers and rumored to be very controlling of its members.
Tighe himself was born into a Scientologist family but said he decided to leave in 2011 after enduring a severe beating and punishment two years prior, which in retrospect he believes was handed out for speaking with John Travolta.
As a teen, Tighe claims he was sent to a Scientology prison called Rehabilitation Task Force (RPF) for five years for a minor infraction, where he worked on the organization’s construction sites and in boiler rooms in California and Florida. “RPF was insane, the standards were disgusting, the berthing was vile,” he told the paper.
“I had to constantly clean asbestos and pipes damaged in the boiler room, situated in the tunnels underneath the LA headquarters … it was absurdly dangerous.”
After a one-year Los Angeles RPF stint, the young man was then relocated to Scientology’s Clearwater, FL headquarters known as “Flag.” There, he says he was ordered to build custom furniture for Tom Cruise’s personal penthouse at the Church’s Osceola Inn.
“On every other floor at the Osceola, there were seven or eight hotel rooms, but he had the whole floor,” Tighe told the Daily Mail. “The penthouse had triple the amount of cameras than anywhere else, often disguised as smoke alarms.”
In 2002, after serving his time, Tighe was selected to work security at The Sandcastle—another Clearwater-area hotel for the religion’s VIPs—where he said Cruise frequently lived for long stretches while studying at Flag. Tighe claimed that he was able to monitor the rooms of VIP guests when he worked in the security control room.
It was during this era that Tighe noticed friction between some of the organizations most famous members. “It’s no secret that Cruise and Travolta despised each other,” he said to the Daily Mail.
According to Tighe, Travolta was Church leader David Miscavige’s “favorite son” before Cruise joined the group and was awarded the organization’s highest honor—the Freedom Medal of Valor—in 2008.
“The closest person Miscavige had ever said that about before was Travolta, he was told by Miscavige that he was he most dedicated Scientologist and had introduced more members than anyone, so it was like getting his title stripped, he was jealous.”
“Travolta wasn’t invited to Cruise’s wedding with Katie Holmes, it told me everything. I can assure you Travolta doesn’t recognize Cruise as a superior in any way. When Cruise got that medal Travolta was so p***ed off.”
“I’d say it’s a 50/50 split whether Cruise is even respected in Scientology. When Cruise got the medal, the Office of Special Affairs was on high alert for any comments that were negative – it built up a lot of resentment within the ranks of Scientology, they didn’t think he deserved it.”
While Tighe said that Cruise only acknowledged him a few times during the time he worked at the hotel, Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston were friendlier. But he now says he believes he was punished for talking to Travolta, believing that the he and the actor had “a lot in common” because his uncle once dated the daughter of one of Travolta’s co-stars in “Pulp Fiction.”
“I told the Scientology VIP president and Travolta’s handler, as I wanted to follow protocol and let them know I had been speaking to celebrities. They said it was OK, but three weeks later, I’m in bed and suddenly got violently pulled out,” Tighe recalls. “I was given the beating of my life and punished for months.”
Tighe’s father quit the Church in 2010, a year before he decided to do the same. Sister Natalie and mom Katie Paquette—a higher-up in the organization—remain Scientologists today.
“As painful as it is,” Tighe says, “Life does go on.”
[Feature image: John Travolta/Associated Press]