“But why can't they go public, you know what I mean?” Rodriguez continues. “Like, Brad and Angelina—that's just a shame for them. Right, Katie?”
“Yeah. I mean, I'm just so happy,” Holmes says in reply as a makeup artist begins to powder her cheeks. (Holmes's skin, in contrast to the evidence of a recent barrage of embarrassing tabloid photos, is perfect.) “And I love celebrating our happiness. I can't keep it in.”
Meanwhile, the tabloids report that friends back in Toledo, Ohio, where Holmes grew up, are worried about her. (“People who say that aren't my friends,” she says.) They wonder whether Cruise is sabotaging her career by steering her away from roles that deal with subject matter that Scientology disapproves of—in particular, the role of the drug-addled Edie Sedgwick in George Hickenlooper's upcoming Factory Girl, which Holmes pulled out of. “Tom's so supportive and he's such an inspiration,” she protests. “I just felt that the role wasn't right for me, and in light of my Batman Begins schedule and everything, it was just not the right time. When I pick roles, I ask, first, Is this a story that I want to tell? Can I help move this story along, and will I be an asset to it? I'm excited to keep expanding and finding different roles to play.” What about a film with Cruise? “That would be such an honor. Such an honor.”
Cruise may not be imposing his will on Holmes's career, but, with Rodriguez's help, he appears to have made a strong bid for her soul. After the interview, when I ask Rodriguez how long she's worked with Holmes—reports call her a longtime employee of the Church of Scientology—she waves her hand and says, “Oh, no, we're just best friends....Well, Katie has a lot of friends.” And how long have you been friends? “Oh, a while,” Rodriguez answers. “I don't know.”
It turns out the two women were introduced only six weeks earlier—right around the time when Holmes met Cruise. (Holmes prefers to keep the details of the couple's first date to herself, but Cruise is said to have invited her to a sushi dinner on his plane.) Rodriguez comes from a family of wealthy Bay area Scientologists; she attended a boarding school in Oregon linked to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, then went to work for the church, reportedly attaining membership in the Sea Org—Scientology's elite religious order, whose members commit to the church for one billion years—in 1998. No one close to Holmes will venture to say exactly what Rodriguez's role in the actress's life is these days.
On the day we meet, Holmes tells me she's not a Scientologist. (Three days later, in Europe, she will announce that she has converted.) “You know, it's really exciting,” the actress says of the religion. “I just started auditing”—Scientology's word for receiving spiritual counseling—“and I'm taking some courses, and I really like it. I feel it's really helping. What I like about it is that, you know, I was raised Catholic, and you can be a Catholic and a Scientologist, Jewish and a Scientologist.” Holmes went to Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic high school in Toledo, and was accepted at Columbia University before she landed the role of the lovelorn tomboy Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek. Her parents, devout Catholics, are said to be a weekly fixture at Christ the King church in Toledo. “I'm learning,” Holmes says, as the makeup artist applies eye shadow, “to celebrate my own spirit, my own being.”