The other unusual step it takes is with Marty Rathbun, who you might recognise from other Scientology exposé docs—he’s the guy who was essentially the number two in the organisation, but left the Church in 2004. Most films about Scientology tend to treat anyone who left, and is willing to talk shit about the Church, as beyond reproach; Theroux doesn’t do that at all with Rathburn. He pushes him hard. Other ex-members say that Rathburn was behind a lot of the Church’s nefarious, life-ruining tactics in his 22 years with them, which he doesn’t like to bring up. Theroux doesn’t let him off the hook easily. Yeah, of course we’d like to see Louis actually interview the current head of the Church, but he realises that Rathburn is a fascinating, flawed character, and he’s almost as interesting as the Church itself.
The best thing about the film though? It’s hilarious. Remember that BBC documentary from a few years back, where the reporter lost his shit at the Scientologists? Theroux does the opposite of that. As filming goes on and word gets out to the Church, the production starts to get followed, and eventually hounded, by Scientologists, filming their every move. It’s pretty disturbing, especially when Marty Rathburn explains how it’s kind of ruined his life. But Theroux’s reaction is golden. Instead of freaking out and getting angry, he just starts filming them back. And being really polite. And trying to be friends with them. And it freaks them the fuck out. It’s amazing, and so simple, transforming an organisation that’s presented by the media as being terrifying and unforgiving as just pathetic and weird.
My Scientology Movie is in UK cinemas October 7.