“The news of Kirstie Alley’s passing is very sad,” Remini, 52 — who was embroiled in a feud with the Look Who’s Talking actress over Scientology for years — told Rolling Stone in an interview published on Wednesday, December 7.
The Second Act star added that she is thinking of Alley’s two children – son William True Stevenson and daughter Lillie Price Stevenson, whom she shared with ex-husband Parker Stevenson — who are members of the Church of Scientology.
“Although Scientologists don’t believe in prayers, my prayers do go out to her two children, who are now without their mom,” she said. “I hope they can, one day, free themselves of this dangerous and toxic organization.”
Alley’s family confirmed on Monday, December 5, that the It Takes Two actress died after a short battle with cancer. Her rep later revealed that Alley was diagnosed with colon cancer not long before her passing.
The King of Queens alum and the former Cheers star had a tumultuous relationship for years due to their involvement with the Church of Scientology. Remini left the organization in 2013, but Alley remained a devoted follower of the faith until her death.
The Emmy winner has been outspoken about her time with the church since her exit, discussing it in her docuseries, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, as well as her memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. She also cohosts a podcast called Scientology: Fair Game with fellow apostate Mike Rinder.
After Remini left the church, she told Ellen DeGeneres that she had “lost friends” because of the choice, referencing the group’s reported practice of “disconnection,” where current members aren’t permitted to speak to people who leave.
In a December 2013 interview with Howard Stern, Alley called Remini a “bigot” for her comments and claimed that “disconnection” is not really practiced within the church. “First of all, I just want to everyone to know I have hundreds of friends and people that I know that have come into Scientology and left Scientology,” the Kansas native said at the time. “It is not true that you cannot [leave] … You’re not shunned, you’re not chased. All that stuff’s bulls–t.”
She added that she personally hadn’t seen Remini in nearly a decade because they were both busy — not because the Second Act star had left the church. “The truth is, I don’t think I’ve seen Leah for seven or eight years, not for any reason other than I’m acting, and she’s acting,” Alley claimed. “I didn’t care if she was in or out.”
Two years later, Remini said she “understood” Alley’s position. “I know the policy,” she told Stern, 68, in November 2015. “I know why she thinks she’s angry with me, and I know, again, hiding behind that veil is something that is per policy. They see me as an enemy.”
Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who was Alley’s partner on two seasons of Dancing With the Stars, also got involved, claiming that his friendship with Remini was the reason Alley stopped talking to him. “A note was sent to a friend telling me I was ‘disconnected,’ as in, I am no longer allowed to be Kirstie’s friend,” he claimed to Us Weekly in 2016. “I find it ridiculous for an adult human being to ‘disconnect’ from someone. But everyone is entitled to their own insanity.”
Remini and the Masked Singer alum, meanwhile, clashed again earlier this year after Alley made headlines for her tweet about what was “real” or “fake” regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “So @kirstiealley can comment on things she knows nothing about like mental health, psychiatric drugs, and virology, but she won’t comment on Putin who is an evil tyrant?” Remini tweeted in February. “No comment about Russia invading Ukraine? The killing of innocent people? The displacement of Ukrainians?”
Alley clapped back with her own tweet, writing: “I don’t care what the punk ass twats say. I will continue to pray for the people of the Ukraine. … I pray to the same God you do. So get over your nasty selves.”