Fears that a Tom Cruise-controlled United Artists studio will produce Scientology-influenced cinema have spread beyond Hollywood all the way to Hamburg, Germany. Really.
The grandson of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg–the man who managed to set off a bomb in Adolf Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair in 1944 killing several members of Hitler’s inner circle but not the Fuhrer himself–is unhappy that United Artists is set to produce the story of his grandfather’s failed coup attempt with Cruise in the starring role.
Or as MSNBC’s Scoop so cheekily puts it, “Tom Cruise is set to play the role of a man who tried to kill Adolf Hitler–but the descendants of the would-be assassin are saying ‘nein’ to the casting.”
“I have nothing against him [Cruise] and can even separate his work from his beliefs in Scientology,” the described staunchly Catholic Stauffenberg told the Scotsman. “But I and other family members are worried that the picture will be financed by the sect and be used to get across its propaganda.”
Unfortunately the family Stauffenberg can do nothing about this. My grandfather is a figure from history,” Stauffenberg added.
The Germans have been wary of Scientology for years; after all, they’ve had experience dealing with secretive and authoritarian groups. The government considers Scientology a secular organization that takes pernicious advantage of its membership. It keeps the organization under the surveillance of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The recent opening of a 43,000 square foot Scientology Center in Berlin has sparked renewed debate about the group.
Obviously, Cruise is trying to get back in to the good graces of both Hollywood and the heartland by trying to wipe the couch jumping memory right out of the public’s head by playing an inspirational figure who represents right and good. But why choose Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg? This is a man who hails from a country whose government inherently distrusts the very religion that people blame for Cruise’s career meltdown. Perhaps it’s a wily publicity stunt–or a potential Oscar-caliber performance.
Or perhaps the greatest challenge Cruise will face with the film is not the controversy it foments, but as one publication has noted, Stauffenberg’s Bavarian accent.