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Tom Cruise barred from German sites

Defense Ministry cites his membership in the Church of Scientology in forbidding filming within its facilities.

June 26, 2007|From Reuters

BERLIN — Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star, Tom Cruise, is a Scientologist, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology, which the German government does not recognize as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

The U.S. actor has been cast as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the attempt to assassinate the Nazi dictator in July 1944 with a briefcase bomb.

Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the filmmakers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult."

He continued, "In general, the Bundeswehr [German military] has a special interest in the serious and authentic portrayal of the events of July 20, 1944, and Stauffenberg's person."

Paula Wagner chief executive of United Artists, described the film on Monday as a "historically accurate thriller" about a "heroic and principled figure." In a statement, she said, "Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise's personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie's plot, themes or content. And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice."

Stauffenberg had been deeply opposed to the Nazis' treatment of Jews and led the plot at Hitler's "Wolf's Lair" headquarters, which left the leader wounded.

The film, slated for a 2008 release, is to be directed by Bryan Singer and is called "Valkyrie," after Operation Valkyrie, the plot's code name. Kenneth Branagh co-stars. The main site of interest would be the "Bendlerblock" memorial inside the Defense Ministry complex in Berlin.

A Times staff writer contributed to this report.

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