Very few people are likely shocked to learn that there are plenty of big time celebrities who are also members of the Church of Scientology. As anybody who’s ever spent more than a weekend in Los Angeles knows, the city is littered with “celebrity centers” luring would-be congregants with veiled promises of fame and fortune. The fact is, this particular faith does seem to churn out a lot of A-listers.
South Park famously sent up the two most famous members – Tom Cruise and John Travolta – in an unforgettably hilarious episode. In recent years, King of Queens star Leah Remini has made headlines and a documentary trashing Scientology as a former member who has dared to expose its more controversial practices. All of which prompted another prominent member – Kirstie Alley, of Cheers fame – to publicly slam Remini in response. But if you think these high profile celebs are the beginning and end of the Scientology famous folks roster, prepare yourself.
Here are 15 Stars You Had No Idea Were Scientologists.
15 Elisabeth Moss
Long before she was Peggy on Mad Men or Offred in The Handmaid's Tale, actress Elisabeth Moss was a Scientologist.
Since Moss is not one to be too vocal about her faith, the issue came into the forefront when former fellow church member Leah Remini brought it into the open. Apparently, the two actresses had been best buds for years when they were both happily in the organization, but Remini’s defection has forever broken their friendship up. This prompted Moss to openly defend Scientology recently, thus making her involvement a lot more public.
There have also been rumors that church officials were at one point trying to line up Elisabeth to be Tom Cruise’s new wife after his messy divorce from Katie Holmes. But so far we don’t know if that’s a real thing or just another bit of Don Draper false advertising
14 Michael Peña
Best known for his role as a member of Scott Lang’s crew in Ant-Man, Michael Peña has a roster of geek-worthy credits in film such as Battle: Los Angeles and The Martian, not to mention “serious” Hollywood fare like Million Dollar Baby and American Hustle.
Coming to the faith early in his career, Peña credits his exploration of Scientology with successfully addressing his former alcohol problem as well as improving his skills as an actor. One thing we can tell for sure – he started getting cast in bigger movies after he joined up! As for any of the not-so-nice stuff people say about any of the controversies the organization has received, he keeps it real, saying, “I don’t read that stuff.”
13 Giovanni Ribisi
Starting his career as a child actor in guest appearances on such series as Married…with Children and The Wonder Years, Giovanni Ribisi headed to the pinnacle of nerdom when he got the part of Parker Selfridge in James Cameron’s 3-D extraterrestrial spectacle Avatar. And even before that, his role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow landed him a place in many a geek heart.
Ribisi worked with Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan and must be a real “family guy” to Seth McFarlane as he’s been in all three of the man’s feature films.
Speaking of family, both his wife, actress Mariah O’Brien (Gas, Food, Lodging) and his twin sister Marissa (married to yet another celeb Scientologist, see below) are in the church.
12 Bijou Phillips
Talk about celebrity royalty! Bijou Phillips’ dad was the leader of the seminal '60s band The Mommas & The Poppas. Her half-sisters are McKenzie Phillips of the classic sitcom One Day at a Time and Cyhnna Phillips of the '90s super-offspring musical group Wilson Phillips. So it’s no surprise that Bijou found her own place in stardom, appearing in a whole bunch of horror B-movies.
Besides playing a featured torture victim in Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II, she’s also had roles in schlocky 21st century remakes of classic horror flicks like It’s Alive and The Wizard of Gore. Her hubby, Danny Masterson, is also in the church, best known for his stint as Steven Hyde on That '70s Show… and he’s not the only Scientologist on that show, as we’ll see.
11 Laura Prepon
As mentioned earlier, That '70s Show had more than one Scientologist member in the cast. Along with co-star Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, now the star of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, revealed her place in the faith back in 2007. And she’s not only a Scientologist, she is a really, really passionate Scientologist.
In 2015, Prepon gave an interview to the church’s official magazine, called – you guessed it – Celebrity. In a widely panned and often rambling talk, Ms. Prepon espoused the virtues of the Purification Rundown, New Era Dianetics, and Tone Scale. Seriously, between outer space overlords and alien ghosts, non-members can’t be blamed for seeing some of the Scientology liturgy as just plain goofy.
Her current fiancé and babby-daddy, actor Ben Foster doesn’t seem to be one of the Hubbard flock… yet. Time will tell if their upcoming wedding will feature some auditing.
10 Neil Gaiman
Welcome to the land of the Dream King, whose legendary library must also carry a copy of Dianetics, it seems. Legendary Sandman comic book writer Neil Gaiman was not only brought up as a Scientologist - his father was the official spokesman for the organization’s United Kingdom branch. And yes, he’s got sisters who still work for the church, but his wife – rock star Amanda Palmer – won’t really confirm whether or not she is.
Gaiman himself doesn’t claim to be an adherent to any particular faith. But one thing we can say for sure that Gaiman has in common with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard: both men have proven to be pretty effective fantasy writers!
9 Lisa Marie Presley
One would think that the daughter of the most legendary rock and roll star ever wouldn’t need any Celebrity Center help to further her career. But, hey, Elvis Presley has long since left the building and his baby girl Lisa Marie may have figured it couldn’t hurt to join up. Where did she get the idea? Looks like her Hound Dog daddy was actually checking into Scientology before his untimely demise in 1977.
Church teachings include a strongly anti-drug stance, a tenet Lisa Marie was very dedicated to, which makes sense seeing as to how her father ultimately succumbed to addiction. Regardless, the singer and humanitarian split with the flock in 2016. Her mom and daughter, however, are still in the church, which must just make for a very weird Thanksgiving this year.
8 Alanna Masterson (The Walking Dead)
Does art imitate life? Critics of Scientology might say that of Alanna Masterson, who is known for living among the zombies… and for her role of Tara on The Walking Dead. Just like her brother Danny (mentioned in the Bijou Phillips entry above), she was raised in the faith by family. Her father also happens to be former church member and retired professional Australian rugby player Joe Reiache. These days he spends time criticizing his former religion, basically calling it an evil cult.
Unfortunately, this stance has estranged him from his kids, something he blames Scientology brainwashing for. But here, if art does imitate life, we already know Alana can survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland teeming with the undead, so hopefully she’s cool.
7 Beck Hansen (Musician)
Yes, believe it or not the original Gen X “Loser” himself is a Scientologist! Like others on this list, Beck’s membership starts way back, being raised Scientologist by his family. He’s not one to wear the religion on his sleeve, and as far as he says, he’s seen nothing but good works coming from the organization.
Like many of his fellow celebrity faithful, Beck still practices and is married to a member of the Church – none other than Marissa Ribisi, mentioned above in her twin brother Giovanni’s entry. The way Mr. Hansen puts it, "Yeah, people in my family do it. I've read books, and I've learned about it. I mean, what I'm doing—I have a job, raising kids, I have friends, I have my interests, so I think my life is pretty full. I'm not off doing some weirdo stuff.”
Paradoxically, Beck fans love him exactly because he is a weirdo, so go figure.
6 Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Ay caramba! Bart Simpson is a Scientologist! Well, not exactly. But the very talented lady behind the voice of Springfield’s favorite bad boy certainly is.
A couple of years after starting her role on The Simpsons, Nancy Cartwright converted from Roman Catholicism to Scientology. And she’s certainly not shy about it, devoting a lot of time to many of the church’ non-profit organizations (to be fair – Nancy does charity work outside the church, too.)
Going that extra mile, however, she also donated what was reported to be $10 million directly to the organization, almost double her estimated annual salary for playing Bart. You can’t knock her for her lack of commitment. The only question now is how Marge will react when she finds out the truth…
5 Sonny Bono
From his meteoric rise to fame as half of the musical duo Sonny & Cher to his shocking accidental death by skiing into a tree, Mr. Bono had one hell of a career. The writer and performer of the uber-hit single “I’ve Got You Babe” went from a successful TV and musical mainstay to the halls of congress, where he served as the representative to California’s 44th district until the day he died.
His widow, Jean Bono, claims that he spent years trying to break away from the church and that his initial involvement in the '70s was all because of his former wife, superstar diva Cher, urged him to give it a try.
For her part, Cher has stated that Scientologists are all “crazies” and she herself was never a member. So did The Goddess of Pop really take old Sonny down that path? As the song says, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” then maybe we’d know.
4 Mimi Rogers
Here’s a bonafide legacy Scientology member if ever there was one. Not only was Mimi Rogers father a follower of the intergalactic faith, he signed on way back in 1952 and became BFF’ with none other than the religion’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard! So we can really say she was born into the life.
On top of that, Rogers was Tom Cruise’s very first wife, marrying the top-of-the-food-chain Scientology celeb way back in 1987. Not only that, she served as an “auditor” for Sonny Bono when he came around to the church.
While her membership may have helped her early career, the former Mad Men actress has since left the organization behind, becoming a “Suppressive Person” in the lingo of the church. Which basically means they now think she sucks. Fortunately, her acting is still top notch.
3 Jennifer Aspen (Glee)
One thing about celebrity Scientologists – they sure do get work. Jennifer Aspen enjoyed a nice recurring stint on season one of Glee that fans will never forget, playing Terri’s controlling sister in that utterly wacky “fake baby” sub-plot.
While that role was as short-lived as her character’s phantom fetus, a quick glance at Aspen’s professional career reveals an impressive and steady portfolio of guest roles on everything from Beverly Hills 90210 and Grey's Anatomy to Will & Grace and Two and a Half Men.
And we can't forget to mention her years as Daphne Jablonsky on Party of Five. Was it Scientology who has helped her be such a prolific actress over the years? Only the great Xenu knows for sure.
2 Greta van Susteren (TV News Host)
Oh Greta! What can we say about this attorney-turned-news anchor’s astounding career? For starters, she undoubtedly owes her TV success to the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial of 1995. CNN hired her as a “legal analyst” leading her to hosting gigs on the network. Later on she moved on to Fox News for many years, and even MSNCB (that show didn’t last due to poor ratings). .
It’s a pretty amazing trajectory for a formerly humble trial lawyer. Could her member in the Church of Scientology have helped get her places? Well, the timing seems right. Her husband, former Big Tobacco attorney John P. Coale, joined the faith way back in the early '80s, and the couple got hitched up in 1988.
1 Doug E. Fresh (Rapper)
The man who practically invented the art of beatboxing is also a bonafide follower of L. Ron Hubbard’s flock. The Old School rapper made his name back in the day as an early pioneer of hip-hop music, coming up alongside fellow MCs Slick Rick and Keith Sweat. Doug E. has stated that he had been introduced to his faith by former girlfriend Miss Jones, an early '80s R&B singer and radio DJ.
Fresh claimed in an interview that he was the first rapper to join Scientology, making him yet another kind of pioneer. Putting his musical talents to good use, he performed for a huge church galley in the early 2000s, as well as recorded music for an album promoting the religion, along with fellow musically-inclined members Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, and Edgar Winter. And it was mixed at the L. Ron Hubbard Music Studio!
Do you know of other less-prominent Scientologists in Hollywood? Share them in the comments!