By Michael Thurston ,AFP
LOS ANGELES — Katie Holmes talked about launching a “new phase” in her life weeks before her divorce bombshell, according to remarks published Thursday as Tom Cruise reportedly denied Scientology sparked the split. In an interview with Elle magazine, conducted before last Friday’s announcement that she was ending their five-year marriage, Holmes said she felt “sexier” than ever. “He has been Tom Cruise for 30 years — I know who I am and where I am and where I want to go, so I want to focus on that,” she said in excerpts published online from the magazine’s August edition. Asked if being Cruise’s wife helped her in the film industry, she said: “Things are not handed to anyone. If anything, you work a little bit harder when you’re in such visible circumstances.” And on being in her 30s, she added: “I definitely feel much more comfortable in my own skin. I feel sexier. I think in my 20s, it’s like you’re trying too hard to figure everything out, I’m starting to come into my own. “It’s like a new phase,” added the 33-year-old in the interview, reportedly conducted six weeks before she filed for divorce in New York, apparently taking Cruise entirely by surprise. Celebrity news website TMZ meanwhile cited sources close to Cruise as denying that Holmes filed for divorce because she fears he plans to take their 6-year-old daughter Suri deeper into the Church of Scientology. TMZ and other news media have cited sources in the Holmes camp as making that suggestion, triggering a denial from the controversial church, of which Cruise is one of the most prominent members.
The usually well-informed website on Thursday cited sources “directly connected” to Cruise claiming that Holmes’ team was leaking false stories to the media that she was trying to save Suri from the grips of Scientology. “She was totally committed to Scientology. She had enthusiasm for it and would voluntarily and gladly participate in it when Tom was off shooting movies,” said one Cruise source. “This is not a fight over religion. It’s being used as a way to hurt Tom,” the source added. The church has denied sending anyone to follow Holmes, while also dismissing reports that Cruise wanted their daughter to join the Sea Organization, described as a boot camp for the controversial religion. “There is no truth whatsoever to the TMZ.com report (or any other report) that the Church of Scientology has sent anyone to follow or surveil Katie Holmes,” lawyer Gary Soter told AFP in an emailed letter Monday. Meanwhile E! Online reported that Holmes is scheduled to face a family court judge in New York on July 17, adding that there is no emergency hearing scheduled on custody and child support for the couple’s daughter. Her lawyer told People magazine Wednesday that “other than her action for divorce, the only pending application filed by Ms. Holmes remains her request for an anonymous caption,” referring to when court papers are filed anonymously. The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Holmes hopes to avoid a public fight and will not haggle over money, but is concerned about how Suri is raised. It cited a source as saying that Scientology and what role it would play in the upbringing of the couple’s daughter was a key factor in the split.