10 Celebrities Who Were in Cults and Escaped

celebrities who escaped cults
Source: MEGA

May 17 2024, Published 12:05 a.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to FlipboardShare to Email

Allison Mack

allison mack
Source: MEGA

Allison Mack was a member of the "self-help" group NXIVM, founded by Keith Raniere in 1998. While she no longer has ties with it, she soon faced "the biggest mistake and greatest regret" of her life when she was sentenced to three years in federal prison for her involvement in the s-- cult and its founder.

Mack was found guilty of branding and brainwashing women to make them Raniere's s—slave.

"I am sorry to those of you that I brought into NXIVM. I am sorry I ever exposed you to the nefarious and emotionally abusive schemes of a twisted man. I am sorry that I encouraged you to use your resources to participate in something that was ultimately so ugly," she said.

Article continues below advertisement

Bethany Joy Lenz

bethany joy lenz
Source: MEGA

For 10 years, Bethany Joy Lenz endured being a member of a cult. The One Tree Hill alum shared more details in her debut memoir, Dinner for Vampires.

"An only child who often had to fend for herself and always wanted a place to belong, Lenz found the safe haven she'd been searching for in a Bible study group with other Hollywood creatives," a description shared by Simon & Schuster stated. "However, the group soon morphed into something more sinister — a slowly woven web of manipulation, abuse, and fear under the guise of a church covenant called The Big House Family."

Lenz also opened up about it on the "Drama Queens" podcast, saying they felt a lot of pressure to get things right.

"Also, I don't know how much I can say because there are still people and legal things in place that make it more complicated for the timing of that," she went on.

Glenn Close

glenn close
Source: MEGA

Founded by Reverend Frank Buchman in the 1930s, Moral Re-Armament once welcomed Glenn Close and her family after they moved to Switzerland. The group said it aimed to promote well-being among its members, but the Crooked House actress claimed she grew up while being watched all the time.

"Each of us had to go through that process of forgiveness," said Close. "It wasn't easy for my parents to talk about, certainly my father. But I guess I've made my career figuring out the why's of behavior, and I did the same thing with my parents."

She escaped the cult to study acting at the College of William & Mary when she turned 22.

Article continues below advertisement

Joaquin Phoenix

joaquin phoenix
Source: MEGA

Joaquin Phoenix was one of the celebrities who was a member of the cult Children of God.

"I think my parents thought they'd found a community that shared their ideals," Phoenix told Playboy. "Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It's usually someone saying, 'We're like-minded people. This is a community,' but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out."

He told Variety that Children of God's introduction of the "flirty fishing" policy pushed his parents to leave the cult.

Article continues below advertisement

Keira Maguire

keira maguire
Source: MEGA

Keira Maguire's father, Alistah Laishkochav, founded the cult The Seaside Sect after leaving his home country and moving to Australia.

Woman's Day first confirmed her background with the group, prompting Maguire to soon share her story and how she grew up with the cult leader's nine wives and over 60 children.

"I didn't know who my mum was until I was five. It sounds strange, but it just is what it is. I didn't even have birthdays," she shared. "I think I had my first birthday when I was seven. For other people, it might be really sad. But it's not, because it's my story."

Glenn Close
Article continues below advertisement

Michelle Pfeiffer

michelle pfeiffer
Source: MEGA

Michelle Pfeiffer was one of the celebrities linked to the cult breatharianism, a group promoting sunlight as their source of nourishment. She left after her husband, Peter Horton, told her about the dangers of the cult.

"They were very controlling," she said in a 2013 interview. "I wasn't living with them but I was there a lot and they were always telling me I needed to come more. I had to pay for all the time I was there, so it was financially very draining. They believed that people in their highest state were breatharian."

Article continues below advertisement

Patricia Arquette

patricia arquette
Source: MEGA

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette and her siblings became part of the Skymont Subud cult, an international cult that began in Indonesia and was established by their parents and friends. A few years later, she managed to leave the commune and launch her acting career.

Article continues below advertisement

Rose McGowan

rose mcgowan
Source: MEGA

Rose McGowan escaped Children of God — where women reportedly became sexual objects — when she was nine after enduring years of a twisted and traumatic childhood in the cult. Their family discovered the sexual relationships between adults and children within the group, prompting them to leave.

"I remember watching how the [cult's] men were with the women, and at a very early age I decided I did not want to be like those women. They were basically there to serve the men sexually — you were allowed to have more than one wife," she told People.

They moved to the U.S. afterward before returning to Italy with her then-boyfriend, Marilyn Manson.

Article continues below advertisement

Toni Braxton

toni braxton
Source: MEGA

Toni Braxton spent her childhood as a member of the Apostolic Pentecostal congregation group, Pillar of Truth, where they were reportedly forced to "cover their nakedness" if they did not want to go to h---.

She detailed her experience in her memoir Unbreak My Heart and opened up about her family's "religious extremism."

"In my heart, I believed I had taken a life – an action that I thought God might one day punish me for," she wrote. "I have sometimes wondered whether God was punishing me for the abortion I had years ago by allowing my son to have autism. Or by giving me so many health issues."

Article continues below advertisement

Winona Ryder

winona ryder
Source: MEGA

In 1978, Winona Ryder and her family started living in California's Rainbow Commune, where seven other families joined them.

"The place we lived at was 380 acres of redwoods. It was beautiful," she recalled.

The 300-acre plot of land did not have electricity, which helped Ryder become a reader and grow interested in acting. A few years later, her acting skills helped her family leave the cult to start anew.


Want OK! each day? Sign up here!

More From OK! Magazine

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 OK!™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. OK! is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.