Who is Nazanin Boniadi, the actress who “won” Tom Cruise’s wife audition?

32-year-old actress Nazanin Boniadi’s name is on everyone’s lips right now, but until recently not many people had ever heard of her. She briefly dated Tom Cruise in 2004, and now she’s at the center of an explosive Vanity Fair report for allegedly winning a “wife audition” for Cruise. She was reportedly up against some tough company. Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson were also in the running.

Who is she? What Hollywood roles has she had?

Nazanin Boniadi is an English-Iranian actress who was born in Tehran. Before landing her very first acting role as Leyla Mi on General Hospital, Nazanin got a Bachelor’s Degree with honors at the University of California Irvine. Her role on GH was history-making: Nazanin was the first contract actor to portray a Middle Eastern character on U.S. daytime TV. Her character died February 2009 after being exposed to a biotoxin.

Nazanin has since landed supporting roles in Charlie Wilson’s War, Iron Man, and The Next Three Days (which was directed by Paul Haggis, a former Scientologist who has exposed Scientology before, and corroborates the newest Vanity Fair article.) She also played a love interest, Nora for Neil Patrick Harris’ character on two seasons of How I Met Your Mother in 2011, and played opposite George Clooney in a European commercial/short film for Nespresso called The Swap.

What was the fallout of her breakup with Cruise?

According to the Vanity Fair report, Cruise had his staff break up with Naz because she offended Scientology leader David Miscavige. The offense? He spoke so rapidly she kept having to say “excuse me?” to understand what he was saying.

“Anything [Nazanin] said or did that Cruise found fault with he immediately reported to a member of the Scientology staff, and she would be audited for it. This began with her very first words to him, ‘Very well done,’ regarding his receiving Scientology’s Freedom Medal of Valor. The phrase implied that Cruise was her junior. According to the knowledgeable source, Boniadi also offended Scientology chief David Miscavige, who speaks rapidly, because she kept saying, ‘Excuse me?’ when she was entertaining him and his wife during a visit to Telluride. In Scientology, the ability to have your communication ‘land’ is crucial. Boniadi was excoriated by Cruise for disrespecting Miscavige.”

According to Radar Online, Nazanin was punished by The Church of Scientology after her split from Cruise, and suffered a breakdown from working long hours.

“Naz had a breakdown after her breakup with Tom Cruise, partly because of the punishment she endured,” a source tellsRadar. “She was forced to clean toilets with a toothbrush at the Church of Scientology headquarters in Florida amongst other chores. Naz worked 10-15 hours a day and was told she was being punished for talking about her relationship with Cruise.

She fell very hard and very fast for Tom, but he just grew bored with her and moved on. However, Naz wasn’t able to do that and when she was finally released from her punishment at the Church of Scientology she didn’t know what to do and she was just absolutely lost. Naz had a total and complete breakdown. Naz’s mother, who was also a member of the Church at the time, recognized her daughter was in trouble and needed to get immediate mental health attention. Her mom truly saved her daughter’s life.”


Cruise’s rep has called the Vanity Fair report “lies,” but he reportedly has no plans to sue.