A former security guard for the Church of Scientology has revealed the behind-the-scenes rivalry between the church’s most high-profile members and how he was allegedly brutally punished for speaking to them.
Working at its global headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, Brendan Tighe, 37, had an unrivaled view of ‘Scientology VIPs’ Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.
A Scientologist for 30 years, he has given DailyMail.com his experiences and observations about the celebrity culture within the Church and the Travolta/Cruise rivalry, as they furiously vied for the official Number Two position under leader David Miscavige.
Speaking from his home in Dunedin, Florida, he told DailyMail.com: ‘Cruise is the only celeb with a direct line to Miscavige. Travolta and Kirstie don’t have that.
‘Travolta doesn’t get anything free, no one is giving him absurd gifts like an airplane hangar, custom-made bikes, or over the top favors.’
In 2008, when Cruise was awarded the Freedom Medal of Valor – the highest award in Scientology given to its most dedicated member – at a special gala in the UK, Travolta exploded in jealousy, according to Tighe.
Before Cruise, 55, came along, Travolta felt he was the ‘favorite son’ of leader David Miscavige.
Former Scientologist Brendan Tighe (pictured with his wife Kelly) was part of Tom Cruise’s security detail at the church’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida until 2009
Best frenemies? Tighe alleged the bitter rival between the church’s most elite members, Tom Cruise and John Travolta (pictured in 2004) which came about as they furiously vied for the official Number Two position under leader David Miscavige
‘It’s no secret that Cruise and Travolta despised each other. 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.
‘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 dictated a scathing letter to his chauffeur, who had to write to Miscavige asking “what the hell is this medal was all about?”‘
‘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 [the spy unit of Scientology] 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.’
DailyMail.com sought comment from Cruise and Travolta’s reps, but did not receive a response.
The Church claims that Daily Mail’s report ‘repeats unsubstantiated claims by an apostate who has a personal axe to grind’.
Tighe, 37, along with his sister Natalie, 36, were born into the Church through his mother Katie Paquette, who is still a high-ranking Scientology staff member today, and father Kevin Tighe, who was then a public Church member.
It was an unconventional lifestyle, which meant Tighe traveled around the US wherever his mother’s Church duties took her. He even had to join his mother when she was sent to the Rehabilitation Task Force (RPF) – a Scientology prison – for a supposed ‘crime against Scientology.’
There they were forced to live with ‘at least 50 people, mothers and children, in one single apartment in the most disgusting block Scientology could ever own,’ according to Tighe, who adds, ‘Remarkably, I can read and write, some people were illiterate.’
The Top Gun actor was awarded the Freedom Medal of Valor – the highest award in Scientology given to its most dedicated member – by Miscavige which is said to have made Travolta fire off an angry letter in jealousy
Travolta had believed he was leader David Miscavige’s ‘favorite son’ before the actor came along, Tighe said
In 1993, at 12 years old, he signed a billion-year contract with the Sea Org – the organization for the most dedicated staff, who sign their life away to the Church – and endured 18-hour days of hard labor and studying.
Before he turned 16, he was working in construction at the Los Angeles headquarters on Sunset Boulevard, using heavy machinery, high scaffolding, and breaking ‘every health regulation around with zero training.’
Like a lot of Sea Org members, they lived in fear of the strict rules and, sure enough, Tighe broke one when he was caught making out with a girl as a teen.
He was sent to RPF for five years, often working below ground level in the huge boiler room at the 64,571 sq ft Sunset Blvd base and then at the global headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, called Flag.
‘RPF was insane, the standards were disgusting, the berthing was vile. The ceiling had rotted out above my bunk bed, which meant the drainage from a bathtub was leaking onto me. I survived on power bars that my dad would send me, he’d smuggle them into me through the lining of a case, which was stuffed with them.
‘I had to constantly clean asbestos and pipes damaged in the boiler room, situated in the tunnels underneath the LA headquarters. There were three boilers the size of two-story houses, then five or six smaller ones, all completely wrapped in asbestos. I was only 16 years old and working on eight-inch steel pipes, welding thousands of yards of steel pipes at that age, it was absurdly dangerous.
‘After one year at RPF in LA, I got transferred to finish off at Flag. I was remodeling a lot of the hotel rooms, but then was handpicked to make all the specialty furniture for Cruise’s penthouse.’
To this day, Cruise, 55, still has his own suite on the top-floor of the Scientology-owned Osceola Inn, which is dedicated to his own personal taste.
Tighe says: ‘On every other floor at the Osceola, there were seven or eight hotel rooms, but he had the whole floor. It was British colonial style. There were two four-poster beds, all African mahogany, hand made plantation-style shutters 8ft tall.
At 12 years old Tighe (pictured in 2005) signed a billion-year contract with the Sea Org and endured 18-hour days of hard labor and studying
Brendan was punished and sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) – a Scientology prison – and forced to do hard labor
After one year at RPF in LA, Tighe was transferred to finish off at Flag and then was handpicked to make all the specialty furniture for Cruise’s penthouse (pictured)
‘Built-in, custom-made, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, two giant 8ft by 12ft wide entertainment systems and bead-board ceilings. They’d also put up special satellite dishes for his TV. The penthouse had triple the amount of cameras than anywhere else, often disguised as smoke alarms.’
After Tighe had finished RPF in 2002, he was approached by the deputy security chief who gave him a position at The Sandcastle, a Church-owned hotel mostly used by public Scientologists, who were visiting Clearwater HQ for courses and auditing, and Scientology VIPs.
The Sandcastle security control room, where Brendan worked, monitored most areas where Scientology VIPs studied and lived, including Travolta and Cruise’s personal quarters. From 2004, Brendan became the head of security at The Sandcastle until he left five years later.
The Top Gun actor would often stay for months at a time, along with his huge entourage, and complete the ‘Operating Thetan Levels’, the highest of Church studies.
‘I wasn’t his personal bodyguard, that was a guy called Algar, but for seven years in a row, I was doing his security detail, such as guarding him when he walked down the street and would be checking all the cameras in his living area. I was a top priority with the dentist, I always had to have my teeth whitened and regular check ups. You had to have a good smile for Tom Cruise,’ says Tighe.
‘Five of us were ordered to get gun licenses out of 47 security, we’d have a gun strapped to our legs, it was specifically for Cruise and Miscavige. It was amped up when the protester group called Anonymous started in the early 2000s.
‘In all those years, I think he said hi to me three times, even though I’d be in the hotel every single day. When you see him glad-handing everyone in videos, he never did that at Flag, he kept to himself. Even if he was on a course with 200 people, he’d have a three-person security buffer from anyone.
Brendan doing security at an International Association of Scientology Gala circa 2007
Sea Org Day in 2005
Flag Building, the global headquarters for Scientology in Clearwater, Florida
‘You’d hear that he would travel to obscure Scientology Orgs and shake their hands, but it’s just photo occasions, he’s not like that. He had to have everything private, every detail. I found that odd.
‘His routine would be – wake up, gym for an hour, then breakfast of all kinds of ‘shakes, lots of food and protein, all sent to his room by his personal chef, who was one of my close friends called Nico. He just liked bacon and eggs and protein shakes. Then he’d gym again before the day is out. When he would go to exercise, he would want the entire gym wing all to himself.
‘He’d then go to study, including auditing sessions and refresher courses, he’d be constantly in the classroom. Cruise was a perfectionist and would hang around for several weeks even after being allowed to go, as he wanted more auditing, more courses.
‘It was beneath Cruise to have his own hotel card, so we had to make sure that he could go through all these doors and they would open and close perfectly. There’s hundreds of doors, with magnetic locks and punch codes. If it took him 30 seconds to go down a hallway, no one else was allowed to use it, same with any public areas and even the urinals. If anything was out of place, like someone had pissed on the floor, Cruise would tell the security. Sometimes it would get back to Miscavige, then someone would really be in trouble.
‘He had his own private jet so he could go in and out without anyone seeing, Miscavige also got granted use of it. We’d know weeks, if not months, in advance if he was coming, he never just popped in for a day or two.
‘There were times where he’d have to do movie reshoots during his coursework, but he’d be straight back, or they’d even do it locally very secretly, where directors and producers would meet him at Flag. All his movies fitted around Scientology.
The only person he did have time for is Miscavige, and the pair would ride around Clearwater on their motorbikes or go to the movies.
Brendan had befriended Cruise’s mother Mary Lee, who converted in the mid 2000s
While working as the PR officer for a fundraising unit he invited Mary Lee to an awards banquet. Above is her thank you letter to Tighe
Invitation to Brendan to start the Operating Thetan Level 2 – there are eight levels in Scientology, which followers study and it costs a lot of money
‘When I witnessed it for the first time, I thought I was going to have a heart attack, they were putting on their motorbike gear on a public street, in full view of everyone. They’d then drive to the movies, which they’d do a lot, I don’t know how no one ever noticed them. They’d then ride back, talk for an hour by the road, then go their separate ways,’ says Tighe.
‘Cruise emulates Miscavige in every way.’
But it was his relationship with children Isabella and Connor which stuck with Tighe. Nothing got in the way of his studies, family was second to Scientology, The kids would even stay in different lodgings.
‘Although he was at the Osceola, he’d rent a few rooms at The Sandcastle for his staff, Isabella and Connor, and their teachers and caretakers. I never, ever saw him with his kids apart from one time in 2007 when it was his birthday on the 4th of July. I don’t want to paint a bleak picture, but I was watching hundreds of cameras and I never saw them with him. They’d even be making faces into the cameras.’
‘They would be taken to amusement parks, do schooling in their hotel rooms. I heard staff talk about how they constantly had to make sure that the kids were on Cruise’s side.
By the mid-2000s, Cruise, who came from a strict Catholic upbringing in Louisville, Kentucky, had converted his mother Mary Lee to Scientology, and his three sisters – Cass, Marian and Lee Ann – they were all working for him in some capacity.
Cruise is the only one with a ‘direct line’ to leader David Miscavige (pictured), Tighe claims
‘Cruise’s mom was always there at Flag, she was a lovely woman, we would talk for hours sometimes, she was so nice. His mom always remembered my name. I would feel safer talking to her when Cruise wasn’t in town, I wouldn’t want to get caught by him.
‘She was getting lots and lots of auditing and was very happy about it, she was so proud of her son, she was the sweetest woman in the world. My take on it was that he was still a mommy’s boy, but his sisters were under his thumb.
‘After I left security in 2009, I was the PR officer for a fundraising unit and organized an awards banquet and show. Mary Lee was personally invited by me and sent me a thank you letter.’
The two-sided letter said: ‘Beings of this universe, The entertainment was great, the food was great, the table decor was great; could have danced all night. Much love, Mary Lee South.’
Yet Tighe tells a different story about his sisters and Cruise’s attitude to them.
‘He wanted all his sisters and their children at the same super high level as him, being super dedicated Scientologists and not dragging him down in anyway.
‘They would work for him either in management or housekeeping, but, in talking to his family, it was always about making him happy.’
Nothing was left to chance with Cruise and when he divorced from Nicole Kidman in 2001, it was leader Miscavige’s chief aim to find him a girlfriend.
After leaving RPF Brendan was given a position at The Sandcastle (pictured) a Church-owned hotel where he monitored most areas where Scientology VIPs studied and lived, including Travolta and Cruise’s personal quarters
Rumors of auditions have grown over the years as various former members have claimed women inside and outside Scientology, including Hollywood stars, were put up for interview.
Tighe found out by accident about these auditions, as the reports by Cruise’s handler, Tommy Davis, were being sent to the wrong fax and Tighe had access to them.
‘Tommy had to do a lot of research on the Internet on these people and see what prospects they were. Cruise was desperate to have a stable relationship, it was very clear from the interviews that it was a priority for Miscavige to get him a girl. It didn’t have to be a Scientologist, but someone who could be molded into one.
‘They were finding it impossible in Scientology to find someone from the reports that I’d read. They had to be at the same point on the tone scale, which means at the same level of understanding. So they were looking at Hollywood stars, Tommy was getting grilled on them: Who didn’t have a porn past? Who hadn’t done nude scene in movies? Who hadn’t a major drug history?
‘So many prospects had done something wrong, like sex movies that had been leaked; it was impossible to find someone qualified.
‘The one I believe the most is Scarlett Johansson, who was good friends with [Scientology member] Erika Christensen. At the time of the interviews, they ceased being friends. Erika said they stopped being friends as Scarlett was 1.1 on the tone scale, which meant covert hostility, it’s considered the worst on the backstabbing scale.
Erika said she couldn’t be friends with Scarlett and I believe it was because Scarlett rejected Cruise. Erika and Cruise weren’t best buddies, but, after Scarlett’s interview went south, she was informed that Scarlett wasn’t someone to associate with.’
Tighe said he had met church member Kirstie Alley several times. He also claims to have helped Kelly Preston get a birthday gift for Travolta
Tighe would also accidentally get the reports on Cruise’s latest brainwaves, who would then make handler Davis fire off a note to Miscavige. In a Scientology promo video from 2008, Cruise was interviewed about what the Church means to him, and he’s seen laughing on camera. The clip went viral and Tighe says Cruise wanted the clip played continuously on Scientology TV, which he wanted created just for him.
‘Tommy would get slapped around for the littlest thing that Cruise was not happy about. Tommy was the buffer between Cruise and Miscavige, Miscavige would never directly deny any Cruise’s requests, but usually they’d go through Tommy, who’d then have to handle it delicately,’ says Tighe.
‘For example, after he got the Freedom Medal, in one of the reports, it said that Cruise wanted to create a TV network on Scientology. He was so pumped up about his medal that he wanted them to create a video of the ceremony, then play it 24/7 on some new channel he wanted.
‘He wanted the full interview, the one where he’s laughing his a** off, on the TV network, he thought it was the best thing ever. Tommy had the worst task of having to tell him we couldn’t do it.’
When Cruise eventually settled down with Dawsons Creek actress Katie Holmes, 39, and they had a daughter Suri, now 11, security proved even more difficult.
‘Cruise and Katie would be super competitive, they’d race down opposing stairwells to get to the gym, silly things like that to see who could run there faster.
‘Scientology and him was always first, without a doubt.
‘Katie was always nicer to us than Cruise. Cruise never said: “Hey, I know you work hard behind the scenes for us.” Just never happened. Whenever she was there, she’d get giant amounts of Cold Stone ice cream for us, she wanted to make sure all the staff got something behind the scenes.
Tighe quit his post as security guard in 2009 after a succession of violent incidents with higher command, eventually leaving the Church two years later. Above he is pictured with his wife and kids
‘Suri was mostly kept invisible. I saw her a few times, but mostly wrapped up tightly to Katie. She definitely stayed in the penthouse, whereas the other kids didn’t even stay in the same building. I never saw him hold the baby.
‘It was Katie carrying baby in and out of the hotel room. People could say you weren’t there, but, more often than not, I was seeing it on a monitor. I can see virtually everything – there were two cameras on the penthouse floor and rotating cameras on the balcony.
‘Most of the time, Katie looked like a deer in the headlights, like she was being dragged around and having a hard time keeping up with him. Cruise is on the go all the time.
‘I never saw any level of intimacy, only when they were going to the gym and the 4th of July fireworks display in 2007, which was also his birthday, and she presented him with a motorbike. They were together for five years while I was at Flag.
The Scientology way of life for the other two most famous members – John Travolta and Kirstie Alley – couldn’t have been anymore different.
‘With Travolta and Alley, they’ve been in it longer than Cruise, they came in the hard way, no mollycoddling like Cruise. It’s been a crutch in their lives. It’s a lifestyle thing, it’s like going to Church,’ says Tighe.
‘Kirstie Alley I met hundreds of times and helped her with so much. She would have her latest crush, often an Italian as they came to Flag a lot, so she would hang out with all the Italian Scientologists.
‘She’d have wild parties, well, as wild as they get in Scientology, and blow lots of money. She spent so much money that she’d have to fund raise for the IAS [International Association of Scientologists] – she was doing it virtually full-time, getting 10 per cent commission on any donation.
They were making $2 million a week at Flag, a lot of it coming from celebrities, and that wasn’t Cruise, we’re talking Kirstie’s level.
‘Scientology saved her, and it was like a safe haven for her. She’d go in and out of different modes. There was a big event and she decided to buy 200 designer dresses and give them Sea Org women so they had something nice to wear, even renting hotel rooms so they had somewhere to get dressed.
‘Next, she’d flip and be eating a bag of popcorn down the hallway in baggy clothes trying to hide her weight. For her Flag was somewhere to hang out, she’d walk along in her bathrobe and slippers.
‘She would go off her diet a lot, they would have hundreds of boxes of Jenny Craig meals in the freezer when she was giving up on her diet and we’d have to get rid of the stuff. She’s very much into Scientology though, zero doubt in her mind.’
With Travolta, Tighe had a more personal experience through his uncle, Michael Tighe, a famous New York photographer, who’d snapped celebrities including the Grease actor.
‘My uncle has done several photo assignments with Travolta over the years. As Travolta only does auditing late at night, when I was doing security, he asked me my name, I told him, he said is Michael Tighe your uncle, I said yes. From then on, every night for weeks, we’d talk.
‘Travolta was always interested in other people, we just spoke about sports, and we had a lot in common as Amanda Plummer – daughter of actor Christopher Plummer, who was in Pulp Fiction – went out with my uncle for a long time, they were engaged.
‘By coincidence, my uncle gave my parents a portrait of Travolta, I asked to borrow it, and bumped into Kelly Preston, and showed it her. She loved it, and said she wanted it for Travolta’s birthday, so I gave her my uncle’s number.
‘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.
‘I was hauled in front of the security chief, who was livid that Vanity Fair had turned up without anyone knowing and were interviewing him and I got the blame for absolutely no reason, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I felt it was punishment for daring to speak to a celebrity. I was given the beating of my life and punished for months.’
Tighe quit his post as security guard in 2009 after a succession of incidents with higher command, eventually leaving the Church two years later.
His father Kevin left in 2010 after 35 years in the fold, but his sister Natalie and mom Katie remain, where Tighe thinks they’ll stay for the rest of their lives.
Tighe went onto set up his own handyman business and, two years later, met Kelly, a staunch Christian, whom he married in 2016. They have two children, Emma, three and Mason, nine months. Scientology is firmly behind him and he’s not fearful about living just a few miles down the road from the Church headquarters, where he’s spent most of his life.
‘The last time I saw my mom, she was at the door and I said: ‘If you’re here as my mother, great, but if you’re here on behalf of Scientology, I don’t want to see you.’ She screamed my name and I closed the door. I can’t envisage the day when she ever leaves. I’ve got the pictures on our bookshelf, and my kid will ask about it: “Who’s that?” That’s the only time I try to remember about it. As painful as it is, life does go on.’