The information that Danny Masterson’s friends shared about him in their letters of support to the judge in his rape trial painted a picture of a respectful and responsible young man who saw himself as a leader among the young cast of That ’70s Show, some of whom were new to Hollywood.
Although Masterson has been found guilty of drugging his victims, in her letter, That ’70s Show co-star Mila Kunis wrote: “One of the most remarkable aspects of Danny’s character is his unwavering commitment to discouraging the use of drugs.”
Ashton Kutcher’s letter to the sentencing judge said: “Any time that we were to meet someone or interact with someone who was on drugs, or did drugs, he made it clear that that wouldn’t be a good person to be friends with.”
This attempt to make Masterson sound upstanding only goes to prove that he was indoctrinating his co-stars into The Church of Scientology. One of the Church’s major beliefs is that drugs are a destructive force on members’ lives and should be avoided at all costs. They have their own, controversial, detox organization called Narconon. In 2005, Tom Cruise — Scientology’s greatest success story — brought a lot of negative attention to himself, and the church, by publicly denouncing all types of drugs, including proven psychiatric medications. He famously got into a feud with Brooke Shields about how to treat post-partum depression and called The Today Show’s Matt Lauer “glib” during a 2005 interview that quickly turned hostile.
The other folks who wrote letters of support to the sentencing judge go even further in making Masterson sound like a little Tom Cruise in training, although it’s hard to be littlier than Tom Cruise (cause he’s short, y’all.)
Childhood friend Eric Balfour attested to his “integrity and sincerity,” and his dedication to his family. Wilmer Valderrama’s personal assistant, Daniel Acuna, wrote about how Masterson acted as a caring advisor to his co-stars, guiding them to stay out of financial and social trouble off-set. And Ethan Suplee, his co-star on The Ranch, talks about how he modeled and insisted on good on-set behavior.
Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things. But if the tone and language sound familiar it’s because this is how Tom Cruise’s castmates often speak of him. And how he speaks about himself.
Speculating on Scientology’s influence on American life predates Tom Cruise’s “couch jumping” incident on Oprah and the death of John Travolta’s son, Jett. Tony Ortega has been writing about it for decades. Yashar Ali has taken up the torch on social media, often in defense of Leah Remini. They both know how much control the church holds over its members, and how carefully it orchestrates the events in the lives of its members. Yashar Ali dove into a theory in an X thread about how much control Scientology may have had over all of the letters sent to Masterson’s sentencing judge. It’s not hard to believe that the church can exert control over the language of those types of letters.
It’s also not hard to believe that it may have had control over the language used to describe working with Tom Cruise. But what’s most likely is that the church was molding Danny Masterson in the image of Tom Cruise. Who wouldn’t want to be Tom Cruise? But, within the church, that also comes with heavy responsibilities to recruit new members and be a public example of virtue and morality. Masterson failed hard at that, but I’m sure it’s nothing 30 years in prison and a few security checks can’t take care of.