Leah Remini has been facing an uphill battle since leaving the Church of Scientology.
Ahead of her A&E docu-series’, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, debut Tuesday, Remini talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her experience both in and out of the Church and recalled a time when notable Scientologist Tom Cruise pressured her to try and quash a report about the religion. (At the time, Remini’s hit series King of Queens was airing on CBS.)
“I got pressure to call [CEO] Les Moonves at CBS to try and get a 60 Minutes report squashed. I got a call from the church and Tom to call Les Moonves and use my influence to squash the story,” Remini explained.
Remini did as she was asked, and dialed in Cruise on the phone call.
“So I called Les Moonves, even though I was really uncomfortable with it. And he said, ‘Listen—you’re not the only one who has called me about this and I have no right to interject my opinion of what I like or don’t like with the news organization of CBS and I will absolutely not engage this conversation. I’ll tell you or anyone else who calls me.'”
She continued, “He said, ‘I don’t give a s–t if it’s you, if it’s Tom Cruise, if it’s Jenna Elfman, you’re all going to get the same story from me.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ And then I called them back and said, ‘Hey, I tried.'”
Remini has strong feelings about Cruise’s high-profile involvement, but she argues that he caused people to leave—not join. “I don’t think he normalized it at all. I think it’s just the opposite. I think there was a time where maybe Scientology was more accepted and I didn’t particularly find him to be a great example of Scientology—of which I made that very known to my church,” she told THR. “But Tom is very protected in the church and the church will go to any means to ensure that he stays in.”
Remini recalled a specific time Cruise’s involvement probably hurt the Church’s membership. “Especially when [Scientology leader] David Miscavige stood up in front of a Scientology event and said that Tom was ‘the best example of a Scientologist.’ And I know the heartbreak of the average person who works day and night to pay a quarter-of-a-million dollars for their ‘religious freedom’ in Scientology,” she explained. “Those people were the example— not somebody who makes $10-$20 million a picture.”