Paul Haggis’s angry 2009 resignation from the Church of Scientology and subsequent participation in damning exposés and documentaries earned him a permanent spot on the notoriously vengeful group’s shit list. Enough for them to try to catfish him? Wouldn’t be the strangest thing they’ve been accused of!

Haggis tells Tony Ortega he received an email on April 6 from someone purporting to be a reporter for Time magazine. But the request quickly unravelled. Via the Hollywood Reporter.

Dear Mr. Haggis,

I am writing a piece for Time Magazine on the ‘golden age’ of film. - I would very much like to interview you for the piece and include “Crash” as a example of recent film that has that beautiful cinematic ‘touch’.

Other directors participating in the film include David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, Francis-Ford Coppola, Sam Mendes, Darren Arronofsky and David Fincher.

This can be done over the phone or via email. My deadline for the piece is April 15th, 4pm EST.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Mark Webber

Haggis says he forwarded the email to his staff, telling them to schedule the phone interview, when they noticed the purported author had no other credits to his name. And when the staffers went to confirm the piece with Time, an editor claimed he hadn’t assigned it and had never heard of Webber.

The Haggis team then took apart Webber’s email, digging into its hidden data, and soon were able to figure out where it had been sent from.

They found that the email had begun its journey from a computer located in Los Angeles at 5165 Fountain Avenue in a structure known as the Anthony Building — a building that the Church of Scientology owns. The church uses the Anthony for “berthing,” the housing of its Sea Org workers, who have signed billion-year contracts and have promised to do virtually anything asked of them, lifetime after lifetime. And “Webber’s” Yahoo email account had been created just a few days earlier, on April 1.

Although it’s clear the article was a bogus overture, Scientology, unsurprisingly, claims it had nothing to do with it. But Haggis says he’s fallen for it with them before.

The Crash director told Ortega that Webber’s pitch isn’t the first time the Church of Scientology has reached out to him. In an email he sent to the former Village Voice editor, Haggis recalled when Scientology previously posed an interview:

The last time this happened to me was when I was told (only after I arrived) that I had offended Tom Cruise by telling a joke to Steven Spielberg — and it was Greg Wilhere, second in charge of the church, who had me in that small room, with his back to the door, and wouldn’t let me leave until I wrote a suitably contrite letter to Tom. And Tommy Davis and staff were outside waiting. After that incident I never again agreed to an interview — unless they came to me, which they did in 2009. Nine senior executives showed up to try and persuade me to tear up my letter of resignation and leave quietly, or face the consequences.


Contact the author at gabrielle@gawker.com.