Explaining Tom Cruise’s Golden Globes 2023 Absence — And Jerrod Carmichael’s Shelly Miscavige Joke

Golden Globe Awards - Jerrod Carmichael
Rich Polk/NBC

Following the host’s electric and daring opening monologue during the 2023 Golden Globes, comedian Jerrod Carmichael once again mentioned the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s diversity controversy by joking about the absent Tom Cruise and Scientology at large.

Cruise, who is a known Scientologist, gave all three of his Golden Globe Awards back to the HFPA organization after a report confirmed longstanding rumors that the board had no Black members, among other accusations. As a result, NBC withdrew from broadcasting the event in 2022, and several actors, including Cruise, expressed their disapproval of the HFPA. Cruise won the best actor honor in 1990 for Born on the Fourth of July and in 1997 for Jerry Maguire, as well as a best supporting actor award in 2000 for Magnolia.

After a year off the air, the ceremony has returned, with Carmichael acting as host and being very candid about why during the live event. And although the over $1.4 billion blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick is nominated for Best Picture of the Year, the show has noticeably snubbed Cruise for a nomination himself.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick


When returning from a commercial break, the camera locked on Carmichael holding up three awards before he stated, “backstage, I found these three Golden Globe Awards that Tom Cruise returned.” The audience makes a notable sound before the comedian cinches the joke with, “I have a pitch: I think maybe we take these three things and exchange them for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige.” The sound from the prestigious audience then turns into “ohs,” “ahs,” “gasps,” and a single, boisterous laugh.

Shelly Miscavige is a Scientology member and married to the religious organization’s leader, David Miscavige. She’s been missing since August of 2007, and her disappearance has been a point of contention for many. Actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini expressed suspicions about the disappearance being a cover-up. The joke may reference Cruise’s involvement or knowledge of the controversy.

It’s very daring to mention anything like his on a live stage in front of all the powerful Hollywood industry folks like he did, and saying it as he introduced two presenters from Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell, and Jay Ellis.