While shooting the movie’s iconic Thunder Road car race in 1977, filmmaker Randal Kleiser came down with a nasty foot infection, thought to be caused by standing in the contaminated Los Angeles River.
The infection left Randal, then 30, huddled in his trailer with a raging fever. Production on the film was halted.
He recalled the incident in a new interview with Vanity Fair, and described a strange encounter with John, who was 23 at the time and believed to have taken up Scientology two years previously.
According to Randal, John visited his trailer and asked to perform a “touch assist” – an alleged church healing practice long sneered at by conventional medicine.
“I was lying there with this fever and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me, and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’”
John apparently replied, “Thank you,” and left the trailer.
Randal reveals, “The next day, I was better. And of course he claimed it was because of the touch assist.”
It’s not the first time John has been outspoken about this method – used because Scientologists eschew the use of drugs and modern therapy.
In a 2012 piece for Scientology’s Celebrity Magazine, John claimed to have fixed a car-accident victim’s fractured bones.
“I was in Shanghai recently at a work event, and the Master of Ceremonies’ best friend had recently gotten into a car wreck,” he says.
“He had broken his ankle and was in constant pain. I asked him permission to do some Scientology assists. People were standing around watching as I did them. You could actually see him confronting the pain and after a while he looked up at me and said, ‘I feel better.’ So I said, ‘OK, end of assist.”
At the time, a Scientology insider was quick to insist to E! News that John wasn’t claiming to have “cured” the pain, rather that his “assist” helped the body’s “natural processes of healing itself at a more rapid pace.”
In 2010, John came under fire for flying Scientology volunteer ministers to earthquake-damaged Haiti to perform similar practices.