London - She was the spirited little girl whom her mother described as “deliciously cheeky”.
A toddler who wanted to be a bear when she grew up, and who set a seal on the apparent happiness of her adoptive parents.
Isabella Jane Cruise was born on December 22, 1992, in a hospital in Miami, Florida, to a married Scientologist mother-of-two.
The story was that this woman had decided she could not afford to look after a third child, and so was put in touch by the Church of Scientology with superstar couple Tom Cruise - a devotee of the movement - and his young wife Nicole Kidman. They had been married for two years and had suffered, Kidman later said, a “very traumatic” ectopic pregnancy.
Soon after delivery, the baby girl was placed in Kidman’s arms in the hospital.
Tom Cruise said that he barely slept that first night for watching the baby breathe.
Nicole told Desert Island Discs: “When I held Bella in my arms, that was the pregnancy, that was everything. I look into those eyes and that crazy love happens. It opens up a part of your heart you didn’t even know was there.”
Twenty-two years later, though, that tender bond appears completely ruptured. For Kidman, 48, was not among those celebrating her daughter’s wedding last month.
Indeed, only a handful of friends were present for the marriage of Bella Cruise and Max Parker, an IT consultant, in a Scientologist ceremony at The Dorchester hotel in London.
Afterwards, the men in the party repaired to the roof terrace with brandy and cigars, while the women, including the bride, posed for pictures with a bunch of white balloons.
Then came the reception - an alcohol-fuelled party held in a trendy Shoreditch bar. Bella’s pal Simon Grubb posted pictures of himself eating a burger for breakfast the next day and noted: “Today I feel bad!!!! Very bad, Ha ha!!!!”
In fact, not only were Bella’s parents absent from those toasting the newlyweds, it is said Nicole didn’t even know it was happening.
A source told the New York Post: “The wedding was a Scientology ceremony. Nicole wasn’t there. She didn’t even know about it.”
To make this even more wounding, Kidman was in London on the day of the wedding - September 18 - preparing for her West End stage role as British scientist Rosalind Franklin. It would seem that Bella has almost totally cast her mother aside.
Indeed, she hasn’t called her “Mom” for years. That honour last belonged to Tom’s third wife, Katie Holmes, whom Bella loved.
Nor did Bella support Nicole at the funeral last year of her father Anthony, who died suddenly of a heart attack. Actually, the two of them have not been pictured together since 2006, which was the year of Nicole’s impulsive wedding to country singer Keith Urban.
Although they are said to speak from time to time, it is not the kind of mother-daughter bond that most people would recognise. Nor, it seems, does Nicole enjoy a particularly close relationship with her son, Connor, adopted in 1995 at the age of four months. So why the fracture?
The story begins with an old-fashioned tale of globe-trotting luxury. Bella and Connor travelled in Tom’s £21-million private jet, Sweet Nic, which had a jacuzzi and cinema, between family homes in Sydney and Los Angeles.
The youngsters spent nearly three years in England at a rented house in Hertfordshire while Tom and Nicole were filming Eyes Wide Shut with director Stanley Kubrick.
In an interview in 1999, Nicole said: “They’re deliciously cheeky. You don’t want kids to be angels; you want them to have a spirit because it’s a tough world.
“The kids are not treated with kid gloves. We try to keep them grounded. We may fly to LA on a private jet, but then when we’re in Britain we’ll go to the Lake District, take a packed lunch and go on a six-hour hike with the children on our backs.”
There was no question of taking them to a film premiere, as Nicole believed the “glamour of it all” might “corrupt” them.
Tom added with pride: “I don’t know if Bella will be an actress. Right now, she says she wants to be a bear when she grows up. Connor wants to be a pilot, and I’ve been taking him up with me in my plane since his second birthday.”
There were hopes to have a bigger family. The couple’s publicist, Pat Kingsley, said at the time: “They want to have a natural child. They also want to adopt more.”
It wasn’t to be. Not long after making Eyes Wide Shut, in February 2001, when Bella was eight, they split. Nicole claimed to be blindsided, but blamed Tom for being emotionally distant. It transpired that she had been pregnant, but reportedly miscarried the baby.
Cruise, meanwhile, seemed less regretful. His jet was renamed Sweet Bella, and when he was asked what had gone wrong with the marriage, he snarled: “Ask Nic. She knows.”
Nicole relocated to New York and, initially, she and Tom shared custody of the children. In an interview in 2003, she spoke about her “great kids” and said she would take them to Starbucks for juice every morning and they were allowed two doughnuts a week.
They accompanied her to Sydney to celebrate her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.
Meanwhile, Tom would take them to the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, for courses and “auditing” sessions, where followers talk about memories as a supposed step on the way to spiritual freedom.
The custody arrangement did not hold. Nicole was absent for a lot of 2004, making the film Cold Mountain in Romania, and returned hoping to spend time with the children - but instead they went to Scientology summer camp.
By 2005 the children were with Tom Cruise full-time and being home schooled by his sister Cass, a rather stern-looking brunette with three children of her own.
Why? Well, as Nicole admitted later, the end of the marriage was a huge blow: “I had to really dig deep and find my way through depression.” Speaking about her divorce this weekend, the actress said it was by throwing herself into her work, in a bid to quell the pain, that resulted in her winning an Oscar in 2003 for The Hours.
“Out of my divorce came work that was applauded,” she said. “That culminated in winning an Oscar and that caused an epiphany, which was: ‘This isn’t the answer.’ I was holding a gold statue and I was the loneliest I’d ever been.”
For the fact is that Nicole had embraced Scientology to please her husband, but then walked away from it. The consequence seems to have been that she lost her children to their father and his faith.
The church denies that it had any role in splitting Tom from Nicole, or Nicole from her children, but the facts are these: Now adults, Bella and Connor are proud Scientologists. Connor lives in Clearwater, close to the church’s HQ, and his father is contemplating a move to Florida to be near to him.
Bella and her husband Max are said to have set up home in East Grinstead, West Sussex, not far from the UK home of Scientology at Saint Hill. Though Max is not a Scientologist, the view seems to be that, given time, he will convert.
The religion, which was started by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, holds that human beings are vessels for the spirits of Thetans - frozen souls who were dropped off on Earth by the galactic emperor Xenu.
It has been asserted by numerous former Scientologists that Connor and Bella were steered away from their mother and that Nicole was regarded as an ‘SP’ - a Suppressive Person, who would damage their spiritual well-being.
John Brousseau, a former follower, claimed in an interview with Vanity Fair that the children told him: “JB, Nic is an SP! We hate seeing her.”
From 2005, Bella and Connor lived in a devout and enclosed family, headed by Tom, in LA. Sources close to Cruise say the situation from here on was simple: no one came through the door who was not a Scientologist.
By April 2005, when Bella was 13, there was a new family member: Katie Holmes. The sweet-natured actress, 16 years Tom’s junior, converted to Scientology and became engaged to him that June. Little Suri was born in 2006, with Connor and Bella reportedly at the ‘silent birth’ (the practice advised by L. Ron Hubbard that everyone at the birth refrains from speaking). Significantly, Bella and Connor called Katie “Mom” from this point on.
She and Tom were married later that year. It was a union that had the full support of his teenage children. Before the wedding, Cruise said: “After I began dating Kate, Bella looked at me and said: ‘Don’t let this one go. She’s the one.’ “
The new family unit were mostly based in LA. Cruise said the day consisted of “Family breakfast... hanging out and watching movies, watching football, the evening with the family, colouring and reading books to Suri.”
How much education was imparted is uncertain. Scientologists are not exponents of traditional education as they believe our souls are millions of years old.
Children are not given rules as they are thought to be capable of making autonomous decisions from birth.
Connor dabbled in acting and Bella dreamed of a career as a scriptwriter. In 2007, during a visit, Nicole told Bella she would not approve of her getting tattoos - but Bella went ahead anyway.
By then Nicole had also remarried - to country singer Keith Urban - and her focus was elsewhere. This weekend, she admitted that she married Urban ‘without knowing him very well’ because she was so desperate to have more children.
Her gamble paid off. Aged 40, she fell pregnant with Sunday Rose, who was born in 2008.
Faith, her second child, arrived in 2011 via a “gestational” surrogate (who carried the baby, but was not related to her).
I was told that at this time Nicole would worry in private over Bella, who turned 18 in 2011. She felt that Bella spent most of her time acting as a companion to toddler Suri.
A source says: “Nicole talks to the kids, but doesn’t see a lot of them. She and Keith spend a lot of time in Nashville and Australia, and the kids don’t want to be away from their own lives.”
The abrupt end of the Holmes-Cruise marriage in summer 2012 came as a huge shock to Bella. She ceased work as an assistant at Katie’s fashion label and within months came to live in Britain.
She did two years of an art degree before opting for a hairdressing diploma with Vidal Sassoon. She then signed up at the Delamar Academy of Make-up and Hair at Ealing Studios and is intending to become a make-up artist.
Her relationship with her father has remained positive. Tom, it is said, paid for her wedding, but decided not to attend because his daughter was keen to keep it quiet.
There is, though, a sense of drift.
“Bella is lost,” says a source. “She’s not pretty enough to be an actress and not smart enough to go to college and get a real job. It’s the same with Connor, who travels the world partying and DJ-ing.”
And what of her impulsive marriage to a man she’s known for less than a year? In this, Bella is simply following the example of Tom and Nicole, who married each other after a whirlwind romance, and have each married again in similar haste. You can only hope Bella has better luck than they did.
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