Elisabeth Moss knows there are certain subjects that should be off the table in celebrity interviews, but The Handmaid’s Tale star also admits that taboo topics are unavoidable when talking about her Emmy-winning Hulu series. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian drama that touches on concepts surrounding both religion and politics.
In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Moss, who is a longtime member of the controversial Church of Scientology, revealed that given the subject matter of her show, questions about religion come with the territory. But that doesn’t mean she wants to talk about it, or even has to.
When asked to compare Scientology to the themes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss was very careful with her response. The actress explained that she can only speak to her own experiences, and not those belonging to others, but she did say her work on the Hulu show aligns with her belief system.
“It’s a complicated thing because the things that I believe in, I can only speak to my personal experience and my personal beliefs… The things that I believe in personally, for me, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the ability to do something that is artistically fulfilling but is also personally fulfilling, I’ve never had that. The Handmaid’s Tale lines up so perfectly parallel with my own beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the things that this country was actually built on.”
When pressed to remark on the recent criticism of Scientology — some of which was spawned by the explosive 2015 HBO documentary Going Clear, actress Leah Remini’s defection from the church, and the buzzy Scientology and the Aftermath docuseries — Moss said that she chooses to express herself in her work and her art, not in interviews. But the actress defended the right for people to believe in what they want to believe, noting that problems could arise if that right is taken away.
“I think people should be allowed to talk about what they want to talk about and believe what they want to believe, and you can’t take that away — and when you start to take that away, when you start to say, ‘you can’t think that,’ ‘you can’t believe that,’ ‘you can’t say that,’ then you get into trouble.”
Moss made a reference to her show by elaborating that taking away a person’s right to talk about, or believe in, what they want would cause society to turn into a place that resembles Gilead, the totalitarian society featured in The Handmaid’s Tale.
While she didn’t dive deeply into her religious beliefs, Moss did distance herself from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s reportedly anti-LGBT writings in the interview. Although she didn’t comment directly on criticism of Hubbard, the actress made it clear that’s not where she stands. Moss said the subject is too much for her to “unpack” in an interview, but she reiterated that she is a huge feminist and supporter of the LGBTQ community — one who firmly believes that people should be able to love who they want to love. But Moss once again reiterated that she can’t speak to what others believe.
“That’s all I can say. I can’t speak to what other people believe… That’s where I stand and the only place I can speak from is my own.”
Elisabeth Moss has been confronted about her belief in Scientology in the past. In 2017, Moss responded to a social media fan who asked her about similarities between Scientology and Gilead. After an Instagram follower asked Moss if The Handmaid’s Tale made her “think twice about Scientology” given “both Gilead and Scientology both believe that all outside sources (aka news) are wrong or evil,” the star fired back with a rare defense of her religion, according to People.
“That’s actually not true at all about Scientology,” Moss responded. “Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and THT hit me on a very personal level.”
While she doesn’t often talk about her religion in public, Elisabeth Moss’s actions sometimes speak louder than words. In 2017, Moss famously walked out of the room during ex-Scientologist Leah Remini’s acceptance speech at the Television Critics Awards.
Remini later told Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen, per YouTube, that Scientologists are required to leave when a person who speaks out against their church is in close proximity. Remini said Scientologists “literally run away” when they see her. Still, shortly after the TCA incident, Remini told The Hollywood Reporter that she holds nothing against Elisabeth Moss, and would never expect her to converse with her at a celebrity event.