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Michael Peña is a versatile and talented actor who has appeared in dozens of popular films. Over the years, he has acted in high-profile action films, independent dramas, and hit comedies. Many fans love him for his open, charming nature, and for the effortless way that he works as part of an ensemble cast. There’s one part of his life that Peña keeps private, however — his dedication to Scientology. The actor has only talked about religion on a handful of occasions. But in 2016, he opened up in a revealing interview highlighting the many ways he believes Scientology positively influences his life.

There’s no doubt that Scientology is a controversial religion, especially in light of the allegations of abuse and improper behavior within the church’s structure. Many of these allegations come from former Scientologists like Leah Remini. In spite of this, many high-profile actors maintain their ties to the church. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Elisabeth Moss, and Laura Prepon are all famous stars known as some of Scientology’s top members.

Many of these stars keep their association with Scientology under the radar, rarely referencing it when promoting their projects. It is that much rarer when celebrity Scientologists opt to open up about their religion of choice. But every now and then, one does.

What did Michael Peña say about his devotion to Scientology?

michael pena scientology
Michael Pena attends the European Premiere of Marvel’s “Ant-Man” at Odeon Leicester Square on July 8, 2015 in London, England. | Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Peña discussed how he got started with Scientology. He joined the church in 2000. “I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was doing it too much,” the actor said. Peña said Scientology helped give him the tools he needed to improve his life. “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.”

Peña said that a Scientology program called Study Tech helped him to become a more confident reader. “Which made me a better actor because I felt like it helped my understanding of scripts,” he revealed. The actor noted that he doesn’t take the criticism of the religion to heart, and doesn’t follow any media that is openly critical of Scientology.

“I don’t read that stuff,” Peña said. However, he admitted he’s at least aware of the backlash against the controversial religion. However, it doesn’t impede his relationships. “Yeah but – OK, imagine we’re friends, you and me,” he said to the interviewer. “Buddies. And there’s a tabloid story about you. There’s no way I’m going to read some f****** tabloid story about you.” He also called such articles and programs “misinformed.”

Michael Peña is beloved for his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

While Peña has acted in movies such as Crash, World Trade Center, Tower Heist, End of Watch, American Hustle, The Martian, and Shooter, he is probably best known for his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has appeared in the blockbuster superhero movies Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp, with his humorous commentary and deadpan line delivery making waves with Marvel fans.

Up next, Peña can be seen in the highly-anticipated movie Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is set to be released on February 17. As the official kickoff of Marvel’s Phase 5, there’s a lot of anticipation riding on the film. And many fans are looking forward to seeing Peña back in action as Luis.