Tom Cruise didn't have the best summer.
First, his wife of five years, Katie Holmes, filed for divorce in June, setting off a chain reaction of rumors and reports about everything from how Holmes orchestrated the divorce, to the terms of custody of their 6-year-old daughter, to how much the actress would keep in the divorce settlement. Soon after, "Rock Of Ages," which starred Cruise as rock star Stacee Jaxx, flopped at the box office. Then, came the bombshell: Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth's cover story claiming that the Church of Scientology auditioned potential girlfriends for Cruise in 2004.
The Church of Scientology struck back against Orth's article by penning an eight-page letter to Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief, Graydon Carter, where the group denounced the report as ignorant and bigoted, and threatened legal action. (The Church of Scientology has yet to move forward with any lawsuit.)
Cruise has remained relatively quiet on all fronts. The actor threatened legal action against a National Enquirer story that claimed Cruise abused Holmes and his daughter, Suri, and also provided brief statement to Us Weekly calling Orth's article "lies designed to sell magazines." But with Paramount scheduled to release Cruise's lastest film, "Jack Reacher," in December, the world's highest-paid actor may be forced to deal with all the backlash -- or not, at least if a new report in The Hollywood Reporter is accurate.
According to THR, Orth's article poses a new problem for Cruise as it involves him directly in some of Scientology's shadier allegations -- though, Bert Fields, Cruise's longtime attorney, told the magazine that no intelligent person should believe Orth's story, which never actually claimed Cruise was aware of the reported girlfriend-auditioning process.
"He has a right to believe what he wants to believe," Cruise's publicist, Amanda Lundberg, told THR. "Do I think fans care about it? No. Do I think he owes anybody an explanation? No. He has a job to do, and he does it better than anybody. He has nothing to apologize for."
Damage control has begun, but, according to THR, this might be the last we hear about it from Cruise's camp. As one unnamed Paramount executive told THR, as far as publicity goes for "Jack Reacher," "You're not going to see him everywhere."
The actor reportedly plans to tour Europe and Asia in support of the film, but will keep a lower profile in the States.
It's unlikely that the amount of press Cruise does for the film will matter given that he's a huge star and author Lee Child's "Jack Reacher" series comes with a huge following, but one former Cruise associate claims that the actor is at a crossroads and may not even know it.
"I have never known anybody who loved being a movie star more," the source told THR. "I would tell him to choose: You either have to be at the top of Scientology because that's where your passion lies, or you have to be a movie star. The two are not compatible. … You can't manage a movie career and a freak show."
For more, click over to The Hollywood Reporter.