NEW YORK Andrew Morton, author of "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," published by St. Martin's Press, claims that the 45-year-old actor ranks second in command in the Church of Scientology.
The book, which came out this week, also says that some Scientologists believe that Cruise's daughter, Suri, was conceived using frozen sperm from Scientology founder and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Cruise's lawyer, Bertram Fields, said Wednesday that Morton's book is "absolutely loaded with false statements" and "Mr. Morton should be ashamed of himself for telling such vicious lies about a child to hype sales of his book."
The church has responded with a 15-page statement, calling the book "a bigoted, defamatory assault replete with lies" and saying Cruise "is a Scientology parishioner and holds no official or unofficial position in the church hierarchy."
The 54-year-old Morton, who has written books about Princess Diana, David and Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, Madonna and Monica Lewinsky talked about his book in an interview with the AP.Some highlights:
AP: Why Cruise?
AP: There have been reports that you were threatened by Scientologists while making this book.
AP: Cruise's lawyer, Bertram Fields, says this book is "packed with lies." What is your response?
AP: How do you view Cruise?
AP: You say in your book is that Cruise is second in command at the Church of Scientology. What evidence do you have?
Morton: Scientology would be a shadow of what it is today if it had not been for the involvement of Tom Cruise. He has been the poster boy.
More than that, he has been recruiting fellow celebrities people like Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith. ... More than that, he's been the frontman for the organization. Not just bringing people in, but seeing all the politicians, the movers and shakers in society to proselytize for his faith. In a way, he has also compromised himself as an actor by some of his behavior and some of his attacks, for example, on Brooke Shields for taking drugs for postpartum depression. That alienated a lot of his fans, especially women.
AP: Some of your critics say that you only interviewed disgruntled former Scientologists and not any practicing Scientologists for the book.
AP: You also say in your book that Scientology is to blame for Cruise and Nicole Kidman's breakup.
AP: Does Katie Holmes have a contract with Cruise?
Morton: I think ... in a way there is a parallel between her story and that of Princess Diana. Diana was enamored with Prince Charles when she was a schoolgirl, she had his picture on the wall and was telling her school friends that one day she would marry him. Similarly, with Katie, she used to tell her sisters that one day she would marry Tom Cruise. When she was on the set of "Dawson's Creek," she was teased mercilessly because she had this crush on Tom Cruise. When she met him ... he had her at hello. Very soon afterward, she found herself alienated from her friends. She found herself surrounded by Scientologists. She got rid of her manager. She got rid of her management.
AP: Did you ask Cruise to be interviewed for the book?
AP: Rogers & Cowan, the publicity firm that represents Cruise, issued a statement criticizing Morton for not interviewing "one person who has known or worked with Tom" in the past 25 years? Is that true?
Morton: Well, I've been working on this for the last two years. I interviewed everyone from scriptwriters to producers to actors to actresses to teachers to girlfriends to pupils to Scientologists to people who have audited him.