Scientologists in Hollywood tried to derail a movie inspired by the religion’s founder, its studio claims. The Master was partly based on L Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology in the 1950s.
Unnamed Scientologists applied lots of pressure to stop The Master being made and have it changed once filming began, studio head Harvey Weinstein said
We’ve had pressure and we’ve resisted pressure. Originally people said to me ‘don’t make it’. Lots of pressure.
And then, as we were making it, we had pressure to change it. Paul’s not doing that and I didn’t think he chose me [to work with] because I was going to acquiesce either.
The movie tells the story of a cult leader known as The Master, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a troubled World War II veteran, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who is drawn into his world. It won awards for acting and directing after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and is seen as an early contender for The Oscars.
Asked about the reaction from Scientologists in Hollywood, Weinstein said:
I’m not going to get into names, but they feel strongly that they think it’s a religion and as such they think the subject matter shouldn’t be explored.
The Church of Scientology has denied trying to block the film.