The cult of celebrity is a curious thing. So curious, that some of our modern day icons have been inspired to turn to the cult* of celebrity on its head, and join cults of their own.
Others have had dabblings** forced upon them by parents, loving brethren, or the hand(s) of god(s). Here are six of the weirdest.
When Michelle Pfeiffer made the pilgrimage from Orange County to Hollywood at age 20, she met a couple who sucked her into a dangerous, cultish lifestyle. “They were very controlling and 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,” Pfieffer told The Telegraph, adding that they were “kind of personal trainers”, who worked with weights and put people on diets.
Uh, isn’t that a gym?
Yes, but…the leaders believed that people in their highest state were Breatharian – meaning enlightened people who don’t require food and water, and can live on sunlight alone. Pfieffer cancelled her membership got out after a few months, but Breatharianism survived, and has caused several followers to die of starvation.
The Charmed actress’ father ran the Italian chapter of the Children of God cult, and McGowan’s early years were spent in its various communes around Europe. "You had no contact with the outside world. Things that are completely unacceptable became normal," McGowan told People in 2011, calling out Berg’s notion of flirty fishing as particularly creepy.
"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."
McGowan said her family escaped in 1978, before she got molested.
Between the ages of seven and 22, Close - star of 102 Dalmatians, The Stepford Wives and approximately a billion other films, was part of a spiritual movement called Moral Re-Armament.
Now called Initiatives of Change, the movement has Christian roots, but has grown into an informal international network. Its core tenet is that changing the world starts with seeking change in oneself, and it is based around the Four Absolutes of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, and encourages its members to be actively involved in political and social issues.
Close and her parents lived in its communal centres for 15 years.
"It was a cult, where everyone was told to think alike, and that's devastating. I decided that I would not trust even my instincts, because I didn't know what they were. Everything had been dictated," she has said - also crediting it with helping her hone her acting skills.
* For the purposes of this article, a cult is defined a group with quasi-religious beliefs led by a charismatic weirdo who separates members from the outside world, often fleeces them of their money and goods, and frequently does them physical or psychological harm.
** Not a real word.