Michael Pena is aware of the all the negative press that the Scientology faith gets. He just tends to tune it out.
In fact, in an interview with The Guardian, "The Martian" actor says that the religion helped save his career, but it didn't have anything to do with getting into Tom Cruise, John Travolta or Jenna Elfman's Hollywood circle, all of whom are prominent Scientologists. Instead, he said the Study Tech classes helped him hone in on his craft and, in turn, get parts in blockbusters like Marvel's "Ant-Man."
The classes, Michael said, "made me a better actor because I felt like it helped my understanding of scripts."
One thing he doesn't read, though, is much hearsay about the Church of Scientology, which he joined in 2000. A large part of that press, at least in the mainstream media, is usually not overly positive toward the religion, but that doesn't bother him. He is aware of what is typically being said though.
"Yeah, but I don't read that stuff," he said. "Yeah but - OK, imagine we're friends, you and me. Buddies. And there's a tabloid story about you. There's no way I'm going to read some f--king tabloid story about you. Especially when I know it's misinformed."
The actor said it was less Hollywood connections or faith that originally drew him to the church. It was more that he wanted a change in his lifestyle, so he joined the Scientology detox program Purification Rundown to curb his drinking.
"I wasn't an alcoholic, but I was doing it too much," he said. "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."
The church, of course, is highly controversial. In 2015, former Scientologist Leah Remini wrote a vicious book after leaving the religion that is called "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology."
"I decided I didn't want to raise my daughter in the church because from what I've experience and what I saw, the church becomes your everything," she said. "It becomes your mother, your father, your everything. You are dependent on the church."