Michelle Pfeiffer has revealed she was part of a cult when she was first starting out as an actress.
Pfeiffer, 55, said she fell into a relationship with a “very controlling” couple soon after she moved to Los Angeles at age 20.
The couple believed in breatharianism, the philosophy that humans should strive to live without food and water and instead be nourished by light—a lifestyle “nobody can adhere to,” the actress told The Telegraph’s Stella magazine.
“They worked with weights and put people on diets. Their thing was vegetarianism,” she said. “They were very controlling. 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.”
She told The Telegraph that her then-boyfriend (and future husband) Peter Horton “saved” her from the couple. As she helped him conduct research for his upcoming role in a film about ‘Moonies,’ the followers of Moon Sun-myung’s Unification Church, which critics have labeled a cult, Pfeiffer said she realized “I was in one.”
“We were talking with an ex-Moonie and he was describing the psychological manipulation and I just clicked,” she said.
In a 2012 interview with Parade, Pfeiffer said she was very “open” and vulnerable when she first started out in Hollywood, but as she gained more experience, she learned how to protect herself.
“It is part of the hand you’re dealt when you become a celebrity,” she said. “Nobody would consciously decide to become guarded and self-protective. I was very open when I was younger, but celebrity teaches you. You learn to cope with the intense scrutiny.”
She added she learned to apply the same caution to her romantic relationships.
“This is the thing I’ve learned, after a lot of couch time: There are always red flags,” she said. “You need to look for those red flags along the way so you don’t continue to make the same mistakes with another person. Really look back and ask, ‘How was I so hoodwinked here? Why did I do this?’ From the beginning you have to choose well. If you choose badly, no matter what you do, it’s going to fail and you’re going to be unhappy. A lot of it is luck.”
She lucked out, she says, with her husband of 20 years, television writer and producer David Kelley. “I chose really well with David,” she said. “I’ve never met a person who has more integrity than my husband. I respect that. There’s his humor and intelligence, too.” And, she added, “He’s really cute.”