“People can obviously hold in their mind whatever they want to, and I can’t control that.”
For context, Elisabeth’s parents joined the organization before she was born, and she was raised as a Scientologist. Per the New Yorker, she achieved the “state of Clear” when she was 11 and, more recently, did a “Purification Rundown“in 2017.
Elisabeth has faced criticism for being a Scientologist in the past — especially given her character in the dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale.
When asked about Scientology by the New Yorker, Elisabeth replied, “I don’t want to come off as being cagey. If you and I met, just hanging out as friends, I’m, like, an open book about it.”
“I don’t want people to be distracted by something when they’re watching me. I want them to be seeing the character. I feel like, when actors reveal too much of their lives, I’m sometimes watching something and I’m going, ‘Oh, I know that she just broke up with that person,’ or, ‘I know that she loves to do hot yoga,’ or whatever it is.”
When the interviewer pointed out that people already associate Elisabeth with Scientology, she replied, “People can obviously hold in their mind whatever they want to, and I can’t control that. If it’s not that, it’s going to be something else.”
“It’s not really a closed-off religion. It’s a place that is very open to, like, welcoming in somebody who wants to learn more about it. I think that’s the thing that is probably the most misunderstood.”
As for how Elisabeth feels Scientology helped her growing up, she said, “Communication is something that I obviously use so much, not only in my job but in my interpersonal relationships as well. That is probably one of the No. 1 basic things that I grew up learning and grew up using and use every day: the power of just being able to listen to somebody, of making somebody feel heard, of not belittling them for what they think or believe, even if you think it’s wrong.”
When asked about how viewers may reconcile Scientology’s alleged abuses with her role in The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth continued, “I would just encourage people to find out for themselves. I’ve certainly been guilty of reading an article or watching something and taking that as gospel. … And obviously, something like religious freedom and resistance against a theocracy is very important to me.”
Elisabeth also addressed when she left the room during the 2017 Television Critics Association Awards as Leah Remini accepted an award for her docuseries about leaving Scientology. Leah said of the incident“I wish I was surprised, but that is kind of the teachings of Scientology: to not watch or listen to anything or anyone who speaks out against the abuses of it.”
“I went to the bathroom,” Elisabeth told the New Yorker about the moment. “I wish it was more exciting than that.”
As for Leah’s claims that Elisabeth is not allowed to speak to her Because of the organization’s policy on “acceptable truth,” Elisabeth said, “I have never been approached by her. I have never received any request to talk to her. So there hasn’t been an opportunity for her to say that. I don ‘t know her that well, so it’s not like we were friends.”