This post has been updated. See below for details.
Ever since word leaked about an upcoming Vanity Fair cover story that alleges that the Church of Scientology vetted possible wives for Tom Cruise, a relatively unknown actress named Nazanin Boniadi has occupied a glaring press spotlight.
Tuesday the Huffington Post elaborated on who the Tehran-born, London-raised actress is and refers to a story that ran in the Persian Mirror more than six years ago that called Boniadi the "Persian Audrey Hepburn."
The same article says that Boniadi, whose friends call her "Naz," studied biology at UC Irvine where she excelled academically, earning the prestigious Chang Pin-Chun Undergraduate Research Award for her studies in the field of cancer research. But acting was ultimately what she wanted to do most and she went on to score small roles on a number of television shows including "General Hospital" and "How I Met Your Mother."
Although Boniadi isn't quoted in the explosive Vanity Fair article, director Paul Haggis (a known critic of the Church of Scientology) has spoken out, saying that Boniadi shared her ordeal with him and that she had, in fact, auditioned to be Cruise's wife in late 2004 and early 2005.
When Boniadi refused to indulge Cruise in public displays of affection, the story alleges, she was sent to live at the church's Celebrity Center, where she was told that Cruise no longer wanted to see her. From there she was sent to church headquarters in Florida where, the story says, she was punished and made to clean toilets with a toothbrush.
Reps for Cruise have denied the contents of the Vanity Fair article, but not before the allegations caused a firestorm on the Web, adding fuel to the constantly fomenting controversy regarding the cult-like nature of the Church of Scientology.
[Update, Sept. 5 at 12:53 p.m.: The Church of Scientology issued a response to the allegations in the Vanity Fair piece, saying "the entire story appearing in Vanity Fair is hogwash. There was no project, secret or otherwise, ever conducted by the Church to find a bride (via audition or otherwise) for any member of the Church. Never." Read the complete response here.]