Until this past Saturday, Nazanin Boniadi was a relatively unknown actress, but that has all changed thanks to an upcoming Vanity Fair article detailing how she was recruited by Scientology leaders to be Tom Cruise's wife in 2004.
Maureen Orth's Vanity Fair article alleges that Boniadi, an actress and member of the Church of Scientology, spent a month being audited and was forced to share personal secrets and details of her sex life with a high-ranking Scientology official before she was approved to date Cruise from November 2004 until January 2005.
A rep for Cruise has already denied Vanity Fair's cover story, telling ABC News in a statement, "Lies in a different font are still lies -- designed to sell magazines."
When Orth's article hits newsstands on Sept. 6, the 32-year-old actress is poised to be at the center of one the most salacious stories to involve Cruise and the Church of Scientology. But who is the woman who allegedly didn't make the cut in Cruise's extensive wife-auditioning process?
Boniadi was born in Iran, and moved to London with her parents while she was still an infant. She was raised in London, but later moved to the United States to attend the University of California Irvine, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. Though Naz, as she's known to friends, excelled in school -- even winning the Chang Pin-Chun Undergraduate Research Award for molecular research involving cancer treatment and heart transplant rejection -- she ultimately decided that performing was her true calling.
In 2007, she landed her first big break with a recurring role on "General Hospital" and the spinoff "General Hospital: Night Shift." In the following years she landed small roles on TV and in films, but is perhaps best known for her role on "How I Met Your Mother," where she romanced Neil Patrick Harris' character for nine episodes.
Though Boniadi herself isn't quoted in Vanity Fair's article, director and former Scientologist Paul Haggis, who cast her in his 2010 film "The Next Three Days," revealed to Showbiz411.com that the wife-auditioning process did, in fact, take place.
"Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent. However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members; how they so callously punished her and then so effectively silenced her when it was done. It wasn’t just the threats; they actually made her feel ashamed, when all she had been was human and trusting," he told the website.
Vanity Fair's story alleges that once it was decided Boniadi didn't make the cut to be Cruise's wife, she was punished by Scientology officials, who made her scrub toilets with a toothbrush, clean bathroom tiles with acid and dig ditches in the middle of the night, and later was sent out to hawk Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics on street corners.
More lurid details into her ordeal will soon be revealed, but even before the article started causing a buzz this past weekend there were reports that Cruise was already recruiting a suitable replacement for ex-wife Katie Holmes. In July, many scoffed at the National Enquirer's report that Yolanda Pecoraro, a virtually unknown actress and devout Scientologist, had been handpicked to become Tom's next love interest -- though it seems she may have already failed the audition back in 2004.
In author Andrew Morton's 2008 book, "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," he writes that Pecoraro first met Cruise at the opening of a new Scientology center in Spain in 2004 and allegedly became his girlfriend. The relationship didn't last long, but she's allegedly now in the running to take Holmes' place as the next Mrs. Tom Cruise.