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Stars Who Were Shockingly Involved In Cults: Michelle Pfeiffer, Joaquin Phoenix, Allison Mack, More

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Source: MEGA (3)

Feb. 22 2021, Updated 12:03 a.m. ET

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Cults have been a part of popular culture for a long time. They have also been the backdrop of several hit recent documentaries.

Despite cults with bizarre origins or those that get into trouble with the law, even the most famous of faces can find themselves associated with the groups — sometimes by choice and, at other times, through their parents.

Some celebrity cult members had a hard time getting out and, for those who did, many now regret ever being a part of them. 

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Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the cults that had celebs in their grip.

BREATHARIANISM

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Source: MEGA

Early in her career, Michelle Pfeiffer fell under the sway of a couple who advocated living without food or water and using sunlight as the only source of nourishment. Over time, the actress later revealed, she gave the pair most of her money.

"They were very controlling. I wasn't living with them, but I was there a lot and they were always telling me I need to come more," she's said. "I had to pay for all the time I was there." Her ex-husband, actor Peter Horton, who was working on a documentary film about cults, helped her recognize that she needed to leave the group.

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CHILDREN OF GOD

stars who escaped cults joquian phoenix
Source: MEGA

Until he was four years old, Joaquin Phoenix — along with his parents and four siblings — belonged to an apocalyptic and isolated commune, which later came under fire for child sexual abuse, among other allegations.

"I think my parents thought they'd found a community that shared their ideals," the actor later reflected. " 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." 

At age 9, Rose McGowan also escaped the cult when her father realized that sex between adults and children was encouraged. "I remember running through a cornfield in thunder and lightning," the #MeToo activist recalled, "holding my dad's hand and running as fast as I could."

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NXIVM

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Source: MEGA

According to the docuseries Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, who were rumored to be dating in 2009, took a class at what was later exposed as a sex cult where women were branded with founder Keith Raniere's initials and blackmailed into having sex with him. Raniere was later found guilty of crimes from child pornography to sex trafficking and racketeering. 

Aniston wasn't the only celeb tied to the cult: Smallville actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty in court for her role in recruiting women, while Dynasty alum Catherine Oxenberg spent years trying to disentangle her daughter India from the organization.

MORAL RE-ARMAMENT

celebrities who escaped cults glenn close
Source: MEGA

Founded in the 1930s by Reverend Frank Buchman, MRA had a laudable mission: Mankind could avoid all wars if people had a moral and spiritual awakening. But Glenn Close, whose family moved to Switzerland to join the movement when she was 7, experienced her own wake-up call at age 22 when she realized the group had taken over her life.

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"You basically weren't allowed to do anything, or you were made to feel guilty about any unnatural desire," the acclaimed actress later explained, adding that MRA "dictates how you're supposed to live and what you're supposed to say and how you're supposed to feel." In 2001, MRA changed its name to Initiatives of Change.

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