Actor Michael Pena is singing the praises of Scientology.
In a new interview with The Guardian, “The Martian” actor is opening up about his experience with the controversial Church of Scientology. An active member since 2000, Pena became involved with the organization as a way to curb his drinking habits.
“I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was doing it too much,” he says. “And then there was the next thing, and the next thing. For me, it isn’t religion like a belief; it’s practical things you do.”
Pena’s foray into Scientology came through the detox program Purification Rundown, followed by a program called Study Tech to help improve his reading skills. The actor credits that course for improving his acting prospects and movie scripts, stating, “[It] made me a better actor.”
Pena is well aware of the controversial nature of Scientology and the tabloid stories about his former fellow believers.
“I don’t read that stuff,” he tells The Guardian. “Okay, imagine we’re friends, you and me. Buddies. And there’s a tabloid story about you. There’s no way I’m going to read some f***ing tabloid story about you. Especially when I know it’s misinformed.”
Those “misinformed” stories come from former Scientologists, including recent defectors Leah Remini, Jason Lee and Paul Haggis. While Remini and Haggis have left the group, Scientology still counts John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Laura Prepon, Elisabeth Moss, and Kirstie Alley among its celebrity followers.