Actress Leah Remini, whose A&E documentary series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” traces her departure from the controversial church and her efforts to help fellow refugees from it, says she had felt pressured by the church to recruit her “King of Queens” co-star Kevin James.
“They always tried to get me to [do so, asking] ‘Why is he not in? Why have you not promoted it to him?’ I was like, ‘Because he’s Catholic. He doesn’t want anything to do with it,’ ” Remini, 47, told People magazine in online excerpts posted Wednesday from Friday’s new issue. “They let it go after a while, but usually you’d be expected to recruit, especially with somebody you work with for nine years.”
The actress, who recently joined James’ CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” for its upcoming second season, starred with Stony Brook native James in that network’s 1998-2007 series “The King of Queens.” Neither star has commented on social media about the interview. James’ representative did not immediately respond to a Newsday request for comment.
Remini, whose Scientology series was nominated for two Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Informational Series or Special, additionally told the magazine that former church members who have spoken to her for that show are “getting bullied by Scientology, their children are disconnecting, their parents are disconnecting, and I just hope that I’ve helped even one person to not give up their lives for an ideology.”
A Scientology spokesman denied to People that Remini had been urged to recruit James, and told the magazine in a statement, “It is Remini who is the attacker. Her whole anti-Scientology shtick was scripted and choreographed by her, casting herself in her drama as the ‘victim’ so she could cash in on her false narrative while savaging her friends and those who helped her most of her life.” The church made no mention of the interview on its social media feeds.
Remini made a widely publicized break with the church in June 2013. She had been made to join at age 9, when her mother brought her and her sisters to Scientology in Florida before the family subsequently moved to Los Angeles, continuing with the church there.