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Entertainment & Arts

Leah Remini gets emotional about Katie Holmes in interview on Scientology

Leah Remini’s explosive “20/20" interview last Friday was still the talk of the tabs on Monday following her appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The former “King of Queens” star, 46, who detailed her departure from the Church of Scientology in an hourlong interview with ABC News’ Dan Harris while promoting her new memoir “Troublemaker,” had more to say on Monday about the celebrities she mentioned in the interview, namely movie star and prominent Scientologist Tom Cruise and his ex-wife, Katie Holmes.

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After 30 years in the church and a high-profile exit in 2013, Remini lambasted officials and policies of the church, which was founded on the writings of sci-fi novelist L. Ron Hubbard. But the real talker of the interview was her treatment of the “Mission: Impossible” star and Holmes.

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In the follow-up interview on “GMA,” Remini became emotional about Holmes and defended her defection from the church after Holmes' 2012 divorce from Cruise, saying the “Ray Donovan” actress “had to protect her daughter, which in a way connects us.”

During her Friday segment, she was singing a different tune. The Brooklyn native criticized the couple and said she was reprimanded for once telling Cruise to “get a friggin’ room” when he was “forcibly kissing” Holmes in front of her.

Then, following the A-listers’ high-profile wedding (which Remini said became a climactic event in her perception of the church), the actress said Holmes wrote a “knowledge report,” or complaint letter, which Remini showed to ABC. In it, Holmes said she was “dismayed by the behavior of Leah Remini during the events leading up to our wedding and our wedding” and that it was “very upsetting.”

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Remini said she was also written up by high-ranking officials for changing her seat to join pal Jennifer Lopez and then-husband Marc Anthony at the reception, as well as asking Cruise’s best man, church leader David Miscavige, about the whereabouts of his wife, Shelly. She said she was reprimanded and had to undergo “reprogramming” for her “horrible behavior.”

“They were just trying to get me to recant what I said, to apologize for ruining the wedding of the century,” Remini said in the Friday “20/20" exclusive.

Though Holmes neither confirmed nor denied writing the report, she did issue a statement to ABC News on the matter: “I regret having upset Leah in the past and wish her only the best in the future.”

When asked on “GMA” how she felt about the matter, Remini said she sympathized with the former “Dawson’s Creek” star.

“At that time that Katie and this particular crew were writing reports, it caused me a lot of time and pain and my family being 'reprogrammed,’” Remini told Amy Robach. "So at the time I was fighting with her, for lack of a better word, within the church. And now I know really what she was going through because at the time I was thinking of myself and my family and what we were going through, and although painful, I had no idea she was going through probably a lot more.”

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Remini, in tears, continued: “In looking back now and seeing her and [her daughter] Suri out there in the world and her being able to be with her daughter and live her life, I’m touched by it. I’m touched by it because I now know she did what she did, leaving in the way she did, because she had to protect her daughter, which in a way connects us now.”

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The “Saved by the Bell” and “Cheers” guest star said she left the church to protect her own daughter, Sofia.

“I didn’t want my daughter to choose the church, ultimately, which is what I felt I would be raising was that. You choose your church, which so many families do in these kind of extremist religions,” she said.

Remini’s family -- including her mother, who was introduced to the church when Remini was 8; her husband, Angelo Pagan, who joined the church because of Remini; and her sister Nicole Remini -- left Scientology with her.

Cruise declined to comment for the “20/20" interview, but the church posted a series of statements regarding ABC’s inquiries on its website.

On Cruise and Holmes, the organization said: “The Church of Scientology declines to gossip with Leah Remini. ... both alleged incidents speak volumes about Leah Remini’s character, as does her callous disregard for the privacy of others.”

The church also said Remini had been “expelled” after numerous “ethical lapses.”

“She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again,” it said. 

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad

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