Michael Pena: The Hollywood actor happy to talk about being a Scientologist

The Martian actor says Scientology helped him become a better actor 

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The Independent Online

It is a religion surrounded by controversy and shrouded in secrecy.

Louis Theroux's years spent trying to get to the heart of Scientology and under the skin of its leaders has culminated with an “illuminating” feature length film, but little contact with its members. 

Scientology was developed by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, with enigmatic leader David Miscavige currently at the helm. Its most famous followers include Tom Cruise, who has given impassioned defences of the Church in the past but is reportedly more reticent to speak about it in interviews now. 

Many of its followers hail from Hollywood circles; few speak openly about what they practice. But one actor is happy to talk about what being a Scientologist has involved for him. 

Michael Peña joined the Church of Scientology in 2000, telling The Guardian he felt that he was drinking too much at the time. He joined their Purification Rundown, a detox programme. “And then there was the next thing, and the next thing,” he explained. “For me, it isn’t religion like a belief; it’s practical things you do.”

Peña, who stars alongside Alexander Skarsgård in War on Everyone, claims a second Scientology-led programme, Study Tech, made him more confident at reading scripts, which in turn “made me a better actor because I felt like it helped my understanding of scripts”. 

The 40-year-old dismissed reports detailing controversial claims about the organisation which he says he roundly ignores. 

“OK, imagine we’re friends, you and me,” he explained. “Buddies. And there’s a tabloid story about you. There’s no way I’m going to read some f**king tabloid story about you. Especially when I know it’s misinformed.”