Johnny Depp and Vanity Fair: Confused About Scientology, Or Just Trolling?

Categories: Scientology

JohnnyDeppTease.jpg
Vanity Fair magazine is teasing its November issue with an excerpt from its interview with Johnny Depp, timed to promote his new movie, Rum Diary.

One utterance from the Pirates of the Caribbean star has been picked up and flung around the Internets with requisite chuckling -- Depp appears to take a jab at Scientology:

Nick Tosches, Depp friend of a decade and writer of this month's cover profile, says the Rum Diary actor is "the same old Johnny" who pumped gas to make ends meet and for a period attended Scientology study groups because they paid $3 per meeting. "I went to a bunch, man. It was so great, it was so fantastic," Depp says.

It is a funny quote. But it's also utter bullshit.

It is true that Scientology courts celebrities and will lovebomb and stalk any actor who shows even the slightest interest in L. Ron Hubbard's weird ideas.

But "study groups" that pay attendees?

No way, say the many defectors the Voice talks to on a regular basis.

"Ha! Scientology paying people?" scoffed Jefferson Hawkins, a longtime former executive who was largely responsible for marketing the church and bringing in new members, including celebrities. "They were usually trying to get every cent they could, even from people just in the door. I never heard anything like this. Scientology, by its own policy, requires people to pay as they go. Hubbard said this was how to select out the 'able' in society -- those who could pay."

Mike Rinder, Scientology's former chief spokesman and someone who worked in the church for about 30 years, was also skeptical. "Tony, never heard of such a thing. I don't know of any [Scientology organization] that has ever paid anyone to attend anything. Sounds to me like he is mixed up or pulling someone's leg."

I started to wonder that myself, especially after talking to someone who actually works with Depp and knows his history quite well.

"That quote has no credibility," the person told me. "First of all, Scientology never paid anyone to attend anything. Johnny was involved with Juliette Lewis at one point, and I was afraid that he might get involved in it. But he didn't."

The person then added an afterthought: "He could be fooling around."

I like Depp, so I'll just assume that's the case.


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]


My Voice Nation Help
47 comments
KeepOnLearning
KeepOnLearning

Another BFL. 

I've never, never heard of any Scientology meeting that paid anyone to attend. 

VV loses no opportunity to print unverified snark about anything Scientologesque. 

janecollins
janecollins

my sisters friend makes $50 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her cheque was $6200 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it here CashHard.com

janecollins
janecollins

my sisters friend makes $50 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her cheque was $6200 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it here CashHard.com

AnonOrange
AnonOrange

Scientologists are giving free Dianetics seminars and auditing to the members of the Nation of Islam, at their mosque in San Bernardino. I confirmed that about 3 months ago. They've also paid for extras at events to increase the crowd size (Saint-Hill, 2-3 years ago).It's quite possible that Johnny Depp was paid to attend these lectures to fill up the room and impress some big whale also in attendance at the lecture.

Margaret (the real one)
Margaret (the real one)

It's really sad, actually, that someone has to resort to faking my name ... that they can't just engage in normal dialogue.  Ah well.

hgc
hgc

"It's really sad, actually, that someone has to resort to faking my name ... that they can't just engage in normal dialogue.  Ah well."

Is humorlessness a wrench or a hammer in Hubbardtech toolbox?

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Well I guess it's pretty obvious *I'M* not a Scientologist, because I thought it was hilarious!

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Margaret, it's impossible to engage in normal dialogue with you - fake name or not! But it sure is fun trying. ;-)

Marg Mesa
Marg Mesa

Yes, the insults and name-calling we spew at each other do make a normal dialogue rather difficult.   ;-)

Margaret

Marg Mesa
Marg Mesa

OMG, you're right!  I'm sorry guys ... I didn't mean to hog the conversation.  My bad.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Well I didn't see any name-calling, but if you wanna launch some, go for it!

Guest
Guest

Actually, what makes normal dialogue difficult is when 26% of all the comments are from the same poster.  That's right, 52 of 199 comments on the last thread were authored by Margaret (the real one (a.k.a. Marg Mesa), not the funny one).

Marcotai
Marcotai

I can feel the "horror' coming from Scientology-haters here, discovering that Depp may be a Scientologist.LOL

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Marco, nobody actually believes that Depp is or ever was a Scientologist. He's way too cute!

Xenu Says
Xenu Says

It's safe to say no intelligent person with internet access would take the risk of being associated with scientology at this point, now the the founder LRH and the current ecclesiastical leader miscabbage have been thoroughly exposed. 

Marcotai
Marcotai

Really? LOLOLOLOL

Dingo Dongo
Dingo Dongo

Say what you will about Marcotai, but the man loves to laugh.

Visitor
Visitor

He dated Juliette Lewis the scientologist?  LOL He certainly was desperate, and in need of an optometrist. (and a long hot shower after)

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Perhaps Depp is confusing Scientology with Christian Science, which does have study rooms.Maybe he was paid to study. Certainly when I was young,  I would have had to be paid in order to go in :)

Seriously, in all my many years as staff and as a 'new public' field staff member for many orgs, never once did anyone pay anyone to come in and never once were there study groups. The only thing I could think of is that maybe, if it was indeed Scientology that he's referring to correctly, that some staff member decided to pay people to come in and be available to have a paying student run Dianetics 'Book 1' counseling on him in order to complete the course. This would have taken place in the Division 6 courseroom, set up for individual studies with occasional 'twinning up' of students. No study group, for sure. 

Maybe he was joking about about being recruited for staff and getting a $3.00 weekly pay like many of us have when we were foolish enough to sign up? One has to study ones basic staff policies and 'hat'. No one expects that little bit of cash, so maybe he's being facitious?

In any event, my bet is that it's a joke or he's confusing the cult with Christian Science.

Margaret
Margaret

It's well known that Dr. Hubbard Ph.D. gave millions in support of the higher education he so exemplified.  He encouraged all scientologists to get Ph.Ds.  See my earlier post for details, then meet me back here.

johnny d
johnny d

oh so "its well known" is it? sorry Maggy its not "well known". And please, for gods sake enough with kissing old Hoobard's ass, its getting ugly Margo and do you really think people are that interested in reading your "earlier posts" and then would really want to "meet you back here"? Margaret, this post is about Depp and a $3.00 something or other. It's not about you and your incessant ranting on Hub-a-dubs "genius'....okay?......Oh my word, the ego of some people.

hgc
hgc

People, people! The Dr. Hubbard Ph.D comment is obvious parody. This "Margaret" is having some fun encapsulating the voluminous comments of the original "Margaret" in as few words as possible. Nice job! 

Jill
Jill

One loves L Ron Hubbard, the other is ridiculing LRH.  

None
None

Two margarets in the same thread (gasp)!!

Could they possibly be the same person??

Who knows?!

Margaret
Margaret

No need to apologize!  That's the fun of a parody... the joke is on you:)  

Now for the rest of you, have you read my earlier response describing in picayune detail my tremulous feelings about the man, the legend, the hero, the mathematician LRH?  Come back here and chat when you have. 

johnny d
johnny d

My apologies to "this Margaret", she sounded so much like "that Margaret", how was i to know?

F_Randy_Hullabaloo
F_Randy_Hullabaloo

Dr. Hubbard -- LawL!  And don't bother explaining it again, please. You've already posted way too much spam about Doctor Hubbard.... Dr. Hubbard, Ph.D. -- LAWL!

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Margaret, please name a scientologist who got a PhD from funds given to him or her by L Ron Hubbard.

Arielle
Arielle

What the hell are you talking about? Not only did LRH not encourage Scientologists get PHDs, in fact he routinely recruited members into the Sea Org at the tender age of 15, never allowing those kids to complete their high-school education. Margaret - as somebody in here has already advised you - drop the cans.

hgc
hgc

I don't think that that's the same Margaret you think it is. Someone is taking the piss. 

F_Randy_Hullabaloo
F_Randy_Hullabaloo

"LOL. Scientologists post such crazy shit sometimes, that it's hard for me to tell whether it's a troll or a real scilon posting"

Same difference.

Dr. Hubbard -- LAWL!

Arielle
Arielle

LOL. Scientologists post such crazy shit sometimes, that it's hard for me to tell whether it's a troll or a real scilon posting.

SFF
SFF

I'm reminded of Orwell's description of "doublethink", which allows one to "tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing them and to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies."

Anon A
Anon A

Maybe the Scientologists were handing out free hot dogs at their meetings and Depp just judged their value as being $3.

After all, the Washington DC Org tries to lure unsuspecting passers-by with free hot dogs from time to time.  Until protester "AnonSparrow" steps up and sets them straight, that is.

That should be "Captain Jack" AnonSparrow, actually.

Andrea Valenzuela
Andrea Valenzuela

Well, Johnny talked about this before...Here is the quote from Johnny Vibe Magazine 2001:"VIBE: why are so many Hollywood actors into Scientology?

JD: ............. A while ago, I took over this little apartment on Hollywood Boulevard from a friend of mine. I was dead broke, scrounging. He'd go to Mexico all the time and leave all these pesos lying around. I'd change them at the corner check-cashing place so I could get a meal and some cigarettes. I did that until I found this Scientology place down the street. They'd give you $3 to take this weird fuckin' test. I'd answer all kinds of strange questions under different names. I survived that way for a little while."

MarkStark
MarkStark

He's conflating some things from his past. First, it was getting $3 to take a personality test, and now it is $3 to participate in a cult study group.

It would be funny if people down on their luck showed up expecting to be paid for doing Scientology. They'll be in for a rude shock.

Margaret
Margaret

Hmmm ... being paid to take a personality test?  Never heard of it.  Though if it was in the early- or mid-80s, I'd say it was in the realm of possibility.

mrgreebly
mrgreebly

19 days left and the threshold for newer petitions is now 25000.

This one only needs 5000-bargain price.

Sign the US Government Petition to investigate the Church of Scientology and it's abuses. The Government must give a response.

It’s all about a volume of voices, don’t be afraid anymore it is your right to get answers. Anyone can sign join those voices.

If problems registering go here 1st:

wwws dot whitehouse dot gov/user/register

+back to the Petition:

wh dot gov/4Os

If the Sign button is grey and not green simply log out and log back in.

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

Thanks for clarifying that bit about Scientology paying people to do study groups. I read that piece and wondered why I didn't get into *that* part of Scientology myself, instead of the Sea Org. It would've paid more.

mirele
mirele

I wonder if Vanity Fair will get a visit from the fearsome Scientology legal help for failing to fact check Depp's utterances...o wait, that would assume that VF is more than a magazine for eye candy and clothes horses.

NCSP
NCSP

I wondered the same thing. The only thing I could think was maybe he was bringing friends in, like an FSM who gets a cut. But yeah, it's more likely to be bullshit.

Margaret
Margaret

Oh, FSM commissions and "personality tests" ... hadn't thought of that.  That theory might have some legs.

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