Ban tied to actor's Scientology ties
United Artists’ “Valkyrie” is strictly verboten as far as the German Defense Ministry is concerned.
Due to Tom Cruise’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology, the Teutonic governmental body has prohibited shooting the WWII thriller at German military sites.
Decision was based on Germany’s longstanding contention that Scientology is not a religion but an exploitative, profit-based business concern.
It’s not the first time Cruise has butted heads with the German government. In 1996, German politicians called for a boycott of “Mission: Impossible” and other Cruise films (the first in the franchise earned $24.2 million in Germany; volumes two and three brought in $27.7 million and $10.4 million. respectively). In 2004, the star was told that he could not film scenes for “Mission: Impossible III” in Berlin’s historic Reichstag, a site strictly off-limits for any lensing, though Scientology was apparently not part of the equation.
Cruise met with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Dan Coats in 2002 in an attempt to get German officials to soften their views on the Church of Scientology, which has been officially monitored there since 1997.
For years Cruise has been outspoken in his enthusiasm for science-fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s alleged faith, claiming that it cured his dyslexia, among other benefits. During the filming of Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” Cruise had a tent on set offering counseling from Scientology ministers. In 2005 Cruise referred to psychiatry — which Scientology rejects — as a “Nazi science.”
The Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie produced “Valkyrie” tells the story of resistance hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who led an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 using a bomb in a briefcase, wounding the dictator. McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander wrote the script; Singer is skedded to start lensing in mid-July.
“Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise’s personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie’s plot, themes or content,” said UA chief exec Paula Wagner in a statement Monday. “And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice,” she added.
“Production is going ahead and the movie is going to be shot in Germany,” UA spokesman Allan Mayer told Daily Variety. “As to what particular locations will be used, that’s still being decided.”
In a statement to wire services, German Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said his agency had yet to receive official filming requests from the film’s producers; the primary location is said to be the Benderblock memorial within Berlin’s Defense Ministry headquarters, where von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were executed.
“Valkyrie,” which co-stars Kenneth Branagh, takes its title from the failed plot’s code name, Operation Valkyrie.