Okay, so I answered a few more questions. Thanks for all your input. This was fun. My Scientology Movie is out in the US in theaters and available for download as of this Friday March 10.

I am Louis Theroux and I make documentaries. My Scientology Movie is out in theaters and OnDemand, Amazon Video and iTunes this Friday, March 10. Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/s-9qUjE40wM Proof: https://twitter.com/louistheroux/status/839199696237166592

Comments: 1626 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

Reverend_Twitch3656 karma

Hey Louis! I've noticed that, often, the people you're filming are fairly respectful towards you, even when your views differ heavily from theirs. I especially noticed this in your films on Westboro. Aside from the occasional "you know you're going to hell, right?" they seemed to be very respectful and kind towards you.

My question is, has anyone ever changed how they acted towards you once the camera stopped rolling? If so, who was it and how did they change once you stopped filming?

*Hey! Louis answered this, although it's probably pretty far down since this comment got a lot of attention, so here's his answer.

Louis-Theroux67 karma

People sometimes forget that the Phelps clan preach that "God Hates Fags", not that they do themselves. They could be pretty civil - away from the pickets and when they weren't holding the signs.

Yeg123abc1807 karma

Is it safe to assume they are reading this AMA?

Louis-Theroux2379 karma


BoogeJr1003 karma

Hey Louis, how do you manage to keep your cool around some of the people featured in your documentaries, for instance The West Boro Baptist Church members or the Nazis in Louis and The Nazis? Have there been times where you've blown up or nearly blown up at these kinds of people or have you always managed to stay calm?

Louis-Theroux1785 karma

I get asked this probably more than any other question! It doesn't take much effort to keep my cool. It takes more effort sometimes to lose my cool - to raise the pressure in interviews. But I do my best. I guess I'm not a confrontational guy.

DamenDome939 karma

Hey Louis, big fan. Has the Church tried to contact you or perhaps even file suit against you since the release of the film?

Louis-Theroux1817 karma

They've sent me some scary legal letters.

ryeowoops902 karma

What is your opinion on the no context louis twitter/facebook accounts?

Louis-Theroux1130 karma

Very funny. I've only seen the Twitter one. Didn't know about he fb one!

chickenbean722 karma

Do you ever feel you are still being monitored?

Louis-Theroux2455 karma

Ha ha! Have you read the papers today? Do you have a Samsung Smart TV??

Grimpler717 karma

Hi Louis. Love your documentaries. Have you ever kept in contact with anyone you met?

Louis-Theroux1009 karma

Lots. But not all. Too many.

smellwood27716 karma

Hey Louis! How do you feel about the 'personality cult' that seems to have formed around you in recent years (especially in the UK)? Do you find the university societies and cushions with your face on flattering or weird?

Louis-Theroux1568 karma

I like it.

_lish_528 karma

What surprised you most about Scientology while filming?

Louis-Theroux1175 karma

The level of vitriol directed at ex-members, and at Marty Rathbun in particular. When you see it yourself, the nastiness is unreal. In the name of religion!

wallacec524 karma

What was your read on Mark Rathbun? After seeing My Scientology movie I was left struck by both his proud willingness to brag about how "powerful" he was within the world of Scientology, whilst simultaneously not wanting to face up to the damage he caused whilst doing so.

It left me wondering how much his word could be trusted, both in terms of his power within Scientology and his complicity in their abuses. Your film certainly coloured my attitude to his role in the Going Clear documentary too.

Louis-Theroux611 karma

Marty (aka Mark) is a complicated dude but I think he is being truthful when he describes himself at being at the top of the tree in Scientology. One of the things I enjoy in the movie is the journey we go on together and the way he wasn't shy about calling BS on me - his "emotional availability".

JC5429 karma

Are you going to say anything about the 3 documentaries coming out this year? :)

Louis-Theroux1265 karma

Three docs about crime in America. Murder in Milwaukee; sex trafficking in Houston; and opioid addiction.

3thicalhax0r379 karma

After filming how strong was your friendship with Jimmy Saville? Do you look back and see hints of his past?

Louis-Theroux735 karma

Oh man. It was complicated. Not really a friendship. But friendliness for sure. You need to watch the follow up doc I made "Savile".

JoeyJoeC307 karma

What is the most scariest moment you've had while filming a documentary?

Louis-Theroux596 karma

Auditioning for a Norwegian cruiseliner!

Account_Eliminator290 karma

Hi Louis my favourite thing you ever did was when you were with the very scary Neo Nazis when they accused you of being Jewish but you wouldn't confirm or deny that you weren't out of principle because why should it matter.

1) Did they ever find out that you were not Jewish during that filming?

2) Did you intend for it to be a 'stance' at the time, or was it just a strange impromptu response, that you later justified to yourself?

Louis-Theroux18 karma

I'd decided prior to filming that it would be more interesting if I never said whether or not I was Jewish. Whether they ever "found out" I don't know.

amonalpha265 karma

Hi Louis

Are there any specific personality traits or weakness that the church exploits?

Louis-Theroux516 karma

The process of bringing in new members is sometimes called "find their ruin" - find the soft spot of vulnerability that Scn tech can "fix". But it varies from person to person.

LemongrabTheFab247 karma

Louis! Are you afraid that Scientology might try to ruin your life/extort/imprison or otherwise harm you?

Louis-Theroux535 karma

I don't think so. They have too many enemies to spend the time it would take to destroy me. At least I hope so.

ryeowoops212 karma

Can you recommend some of your favourite documentaries/documentary subjects to anyone that wants to get kickstarted on a documentary marathon?

Louis-Theroux438 karma

Dude, that was answered in an earlier post. Scroll up.

rajcoont188 karma

Hi Louis, long time fan since TV Nation days! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Having followed your work for so long as well as being close to the same age as you i think, I have found it interesting to watch your work beome more humanistic and 'serious' for lack of a better word.....Was there any specific incidents or experiences that made you want to start persuing this type of subject matter? or has it happened naturally on it's own through age/experience?

Would you like to return to doing lighter or less serious one on ones with unusual folks or are the broader themes from the last few years docs more where your interests lie now?

Lastly I got a rather large per diem from work today and put it in my wallet while singing "my money don't jiggle jiggle, it folds" so thank you for your lyrical gifts

Louis-Theroux259 karma

I think I just got older and more curious about more serious stories. It was a slow evolution. The Scientology Movie is definitely a bit of a return to the Weird Weekends mode though. Funnier and a bit more antic.

Auckland345188 karma

How often do you find that your views are challenged or changed during the making of your documentaries? Do you have any notable experiences of it that you are willing to share?

Louis-Theroux429 karma

I felt more open to the idea of "canned hunts" for trophy animals after I did the show. It's not my cup of tea but compared with industrial farming it's nothing like as bad and probably helps keep stocks of animals healthy.

Brobinson97178 karma

Are there any topics you'd like to revisit like you did with porn and the westboro baptist church?

Louis-Theroux521 karma

Yes but I have to be careful not to get too caught up in my old stories. I'm curious about the ones involving children. Would love to follow up with Lamb and Lynx from my show on neo-Nazis in California.

chickenbean172 karma

Is the aggression towards outsiders and press looking in common? Is it taught as good practice within the organisation?

Louis-Theroux561 karma

Scn views the journalists as little better than "sexual perverts". We are both 1.1 on the tone scale (speaking as a journalist and pervert).

itsaride154 karma

Is there anything about Savile that hasn't been revealed publically that would surprise us?

Louis-Theroux307 karma

Wow. Tricky question. Probably a lot.

wilof144 karma

Hello Louis, absolutely love your work and I'm a big fan. I've watch everything you've made and I'm looking forward to your new project.

I just wanted to know if you have watch making a murderer and if so what's your view of it?

Would you interview Steven Avery?

Thanks for your time.

Louis-Theroux296 karma

Yes, I enjoyed Making a Murderer. Also the Jinx. And the OJ series. And serial.

bouloo133 karma

Hi Louis!

Have you ever struggled to keep your composure during filming and remain professional? Out of disgust or for some other reason?

And do you think Donald Trump will write an angery 3 am tweet about your SAD! decision to create a documentary surrounding him? Would you respond to it if he did? How would you respond?

Thanks for doing such fantastic documentaries and covering such interesting topics. I can't think of one time I've heard any criticism about your docs. Keep doing you!

Louis-Theroux271 karma

I'm pretty good at keeping my composure. Sometimes it's okay to laugh or get annoyed. I did an interview with a plastic surgeon who specialized in "phalloplasties" - making penises. Something about him made me laugh. But he was okay with it.

MayoOnChips123 karma

What was it like growing up with Adam and Joe? Do you have a favourite memory of your time together, either as teenagers or as adults? This never fails to crack me up

Please tell Dr Buckles that I love him, bye.

Louis-Theroux167 karma

We used to go and see cheesy horror films in the West End together. I remember one called The Stuff that was about an attack by monster that resembled frozen yoghurt.

harione96118 karma

Thank you so much for doing this. Massive fan.

Couple of questions, if I may.

1) What do you do to relax?

and 2) What has been your scariest moment when making your documentaries?

Louis-Theroux273 karma

1) cook 2) for physical safety, the skinhead music festival caused me some anxiety

Holty12345100 karma

What is something you have always wanted to make a documentary on, but have yet to do so?

Louis-Theroux488 karma

I am interested in radical Islam. I would have loved to do a doc on Isis and go to Raqqa but I was too chicken.

afriendcalledben81 karma

I heard a podcast with you and Richard Herring that was an incredibly tense listen. Was that all for show or was there actually a tension between you two after he used the word 'pathetic'? And, if so, what is it about him that managed to get under your skin after the church of Scientology tried and failed.


Edit: Added link

Louis-Theroux124 karma

Ha ha! No tension! I think we were joking around!

liamquane76 karma

Have you ever thought about going into fiction?

Louis-Theroux200 karma

Yes, my brother and dad and a couple of uncles write fiction. It's like the family business.

s4m4771 karma

Hi Louis, I am a massive fan of your work. My question is, how do you get people to open up to you so well? Specifically with Marty Rathburn. I have never seen a documentarian that people can open up to so freely!

Louis-Theroux136 karma

Thank you. I just try be interested and polite.

2apples1orange68 karma


As your work brings you into contact with people who hold strong opinions that go against societal norms, do you ever find yourself beginning to agree with them, therefore making you rethink yours own opinions on the subject matter?

(to go mildly native, so to speak)

Louis-Theroux171 karma

Going native is part of the job, in an emotional sense - forming an a rapport and a bit of an attachment. It's helpful that I have a team with me - director, sound recordist, AP. They can yank me up if I get in too deep. We sometimes decompress back at the hotel.

rajcoont67 karma

What has been a critical moment/piece of footage you weren't able to include in one of your docs due to a technical snafu that you wish you had gotten?

Louis-Theroux214 karma

I had a climactic argument with Tom Metzger in my neo-Nazis doc in his car. There was a technical hitch which we only noticed back at the hotel. So we called him up at his house and said "we need to have that conversation again". I think it was better the second time.

fcukthatnoise65 karma

Have you had time to reflect on the relationship you had with Jimmy Saville and regret it? Love your work and everything you do!!!

Louis-Theroux179 karma

Yes. A lot. Making the follow-up doc last year was easily the most stressful thing I've ever done.

DashinDesperado62 karma

Have any of the actors you hired been harassed since the filming?

Louis-Theroux113 karma

Not to my knowledge. And i hope they won't be. A couple pulled out of filming due to fears about that though.

phony5454555 karma

Hi Louis, thanks for doing this AMA.

Your style is extremely hands on, like we saw in the gambling episodes, the westboro baptists and even a cameo in a gay dumentary, take a peek.

What would you think is a strength/weakness of your way of portraying stories? How hard is it to keep your own biases out when telling the story?

Louis-Theroux147 karma

The strenght is that its about forming relationships in a very human way. Also, I can kind of put myself on the same level as my subject - defuse any "aloofness" - by diving in, getting naked, rapping, working out as a wrestler etc. The downside I suppose is that I sometimes get accused of narcissism. In fact the CoS said that about me on a new website they put up.

loyalroyal031055 karma

Hi Louis,

The format of your film has parallels with Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act Of Killing.

Has his work influenced you?

When you set about making your movie was this your initial plan, or did you hope for more access to the church?

Louis-Theroux113 karma

Yes! That movie was a big influence on our approach to the reenactments. Love that film and JO was one of the first people I wanted to show the film to when we finished. He was very nice about it.

jakethemole53 karma

Anymore plans for new Weird Weekends? if so any areas you'd like to explore?

Louis-Theroux115 karma

I haven't made an episode of Weird Weekends in 18 years. No plans to go back. But it was nice to do a story like My Scientology Movie that had a more funny flavour.

JoeyJoeC45 karma

Have you ever genuinely feared for your life while filming?

Louis-Theroux174 karma

My life?? I've had moments of panic. In a riot in Lagos. At a roadblock in the West Bank. In a township called Diepsluit in Johannesburg. But I never thought I was dying. Except maybe during turbulence in a small plane.

coryrenton45 karma

which interview subject have you wanted to get but haven't been able to yet? would you consider teaming up with jon ronson to make a buddy documentary?

Louis-Theroux70 karma

Ha ha! Jon once asked to profile me for an article in a UK newspaper and I politely declined. I was too worried about how he might make me look!

screamadelica_45 karma

Hey Louis, seen MSM already, loved it. Can you elaborate on your music tastes, as it's a side of your life I haven't heard you go into much (beyond "Groove is in the Heart"). After watching most of your documentaries available online, I've come to asociate them with plinky plonky latin jazz (like the weird weekends theme), to the point where the jazz at the beginning of MSM made me think "shit, this is a proper louis theroux FILM, isn't it?". Have you ever considered a documentary on the effects of fame on musicians etc? Anyways hope you're well, keep the documentaries coming, keen to see the one on comedians you discussed with richard herring on rhlstp! Thanks :)

Louis-Theroux293 karma

I like hip hop and rnb maybe more than people realize. I'd love to make a doc on R Kelly.

PyroSlam40 karma

Hi Louis 2 questions

1) any tips on making documentaries ? 2) can you summaries Scientology in 10 words?

Louis-Theroux167 karma

1) take subjects which you disagree with (it creates more dramatic tension). 2) no

_lish_39 karma

What was the most challenging part of making the documentary?

Louis-Theroux76 karma

Coming up with the idea of doing reenactments and figuring out how we could make them be something more than a stunt.

Daza9233 karma

Hi Louis,

Loved My Scientology Movie, my question is have you had any issues with scientologists since filming and releasing the film? Noticed any strange vehicles following you around?

All the best.

Louis-Theroux91 karma

Um, not today.

Houstons-Problem31 karma

How long does the process of making one documentary typically take?

Louis-Theroux66 karma

Depends. The Scientology one was shot over the course of a year and edited for six months. But the TV ones don't take that long.

Veritaserumtravel30 karma

If you had some kind of family secret / something that had been swept under the rug would you have still made the documentary? Are you at all worried about them coming after your family?

Louis-Theroux107 karma

How do you know I don't have a secret!?

chayzee9028 karma

Hi Louis!Out of all the interesting characters you have met along the way while filming your documentaries, who do you often think about and wonder how they are doing?

Louis-Theroux67 karma

So many. For some reason some of the UFO guys especially. Thor Templar and Rev Robert Short.

Mother-Dick23 karma

What's Lake Palmer up to these days?

Louis-Theroux37 karma

Dunno. I hope he's well.

sleepstandingup22 karma

You’ve spent a lot of time with the extreme right wing, neo nazis, and the like. Do you know, or can you speculate on, how they view Richard Spencer getting punched or the attacks on people at the Yiannopoulos speech at Berkeley?

And in general, do you have a sense of how they feel about the current political situation in the United States? Would you ever revisit the Nazis of Louis and the Nazis?

Love your work.

Louis-Theroux81 karma

I think they'd oppose the punching of their fellow-neo Nazis! But TBH I don't believe in punching neo-Nazis either. It gives them credibility.

_roux22 karma

Hey Louis!

Any updates on Mike from the 'Head to the Hills' documentary (since being a truck driver)?

Also any chance of another follow up book on some of the weird weekend guys?

Louis-Theroux57 karma

I have tried to reach Mike Cain, the militia guy, but can't get to him. Alas, Mike Oehler, who lived in an underground house, died not too long ago.

shelikesthecock21 karma

how much of a debt do we all owe to Operation Clambake?

Louis-Theroux23 karma

Awesome website.

blackbirdpie14 karma

Hi Louis!

Do you know if the church has anyone lined up to take over David Miscavige's role if he were to pass away/ get locked up?

Or do you think the operation would collapse without his nefarious over-seeing?

Loved the movie and am looking forward to your upcoming BBC docs, peace x

Louis-Theroux55 karma

I don't know but I was thinking last night that if LRH died in 1986, by Scn doctrine his thetan (in its new body) would be 31 now. Where is he?

Louis-Theroux34 karma

Asked and answered.

_lish_14 karma

Has your point of view on Scientology changed since the movie?

Louis-Theroux34 karma

It's hard for me not to see them in a more personal way - because of the way they target people. I feel less detached.

cannl858212 karma

Hi Louis! Big fan of your documentaries, especially those on the Westboro Baptist Church, and Nazi's. I have a couple of questions.

  1. What do you, personally, believe happened to Michele Miscavige? Do you think that she is still alive?

  2. Any more topics that you're hoping to create documentaries about, eventually?

Louis-Theroux24 karma

I think Shelly Miscavige is alive and living at Lake Arrowhead at the Scn base up there. We talked about including something about her in the doc but it's hard to get close.

rrffddd3 karma

Hi Louis, massive fan of yours! Have you got any plans of returning to the Westboro baptist church?

Louis-Theroux9 karma