Hollywood Celebrities with Ties to Dangerous Cults
Often seen as pretentious and frivolous, Hollywood stars have often been ridiculed by the public for dabbling in seemingly ridiculous practices. From unconventional health regimens and beauty gimmicks to absurd fashion choices, the rich and famous seem to have an irresistible attraction to the preposterous in their quest to be unique.
In some cases, the pursuit of deeper meaning, power, greater success — whatever the goal might be — goes too far, leading celebrities down dark paths and into the clutches of dangerous — maybe even deadly — gurus. Let’s take a look at some of the most shocking cases of huge celebrities who fell for the propaganda promoted by dangerous cults.
Breaking into the acting scene after a prominent role in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, actress and model Kirstie Alley continued to grow more popular throughout the last decades of the 20th century by starring in shows like Cheers and Veronica's Closet.
Joker star Joaquin Phoenix might have garnered a cult-like following of his own in Gotham City following his accidental ignition of an anti-upper class movement in the 2019 Todd Phillips film. Interestingly, the actor actually has some real-life experience with a cult as well — one that is much more menacing than any fictional one.
In cooperation with his sister, Willow, and their close family friend Kylie Jenner — maybe you’ve heard the name — Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's son is rumored to be quite active in the trendy (and mysterious) L.A. fad dubbed the Orgonite Society.
One of the two most famous members of the Church of Scientology, actor John Travolta has never been afraid to embrace his seemingly endless love and support for the cult known as Scientology. Along with his wife, Kelly Preston, Travolta is as synonymous with the religion as Hubbard.
Although it’s certainly not as dangerous or as toxic as Children of God or the Church of Scientology, the cult that actress Michelle Pfeiffer was inadvertently roped into still seems plenty risky. Her exposure was all thanks to her (very Los Angeles-sounding) personal trainers.
Known by many for his numerous guest appearances on the hit sitcom Friends (playing the younger brother of fan-favorite Phoebe), actor Giovanni Ribisi and his twin sister, Marissa Ribisi, are both quite involved with the Church of Scientology whenever they aren’t working.
Much like the Phoenix family, actor David Arquette and his equally famous siblings — Patricia, Alexis, Richmond and Rosanna — all grew up in an ominous ‘70’s cult. Known as the Skymont Subud commune, this spiritual organization was a social experiment of sorts.
Equally famous for her starring roles in Fox's 2000’s sitcom That ‘70s Show and Netflix's breakout hit Orange Is the New Black, actress Laura Prepon doesn't necessarily fit the profile of someone you would expect to be associated with Scientology.
Mirroring the upbringing of the Phoenixes and the Arquettes, legendary actress Glenn Close was subjected to a similar childhood at the hands of her father. An active member in the conservative anti-war group known as Moral Re-Armament, Dr. Close and his daughter lived in Europe as highly regarded members of the cult.
Shockingly, the iconic King of Rock and Roll was pretty seriously involved in a dangerous cult throughout most of his years as a star. Titled the Self-Realization Fellowship, the organization has managed to live on long past Presley himself.
"Scientology made me a better actor." This was the quote credited to comedic actor Michael Peña, famous for his appearances in Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp. He is yet another Hollywood type who says he owes it all to L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics.
Singers and other artists tend to draw from their personal experiences to create their works of art. The fact that R&B star Angel Haze hasn't included anything about her upbringing in Detroit's Greater Apostolic Faith in her music should tell you how difficult it was for her.
You might think that an actress who works on a show about an actual cult would be able to recognize the similarities between a dystopian one and the Church of Scientology, but actress Elisabeth Moss doesn’t seem to be bothered. She remains a Scientologist, regardless.
Without a doubt one of the most prominent symbols of beauty and celebrity in the mid-20th century, actress Jayne Mansfield was a household name for men and women alike back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. However, for Mansfield, the most important household name was "LaVey."
Once you’re aware of the sheer number of Hollywood stars involved in Scientology, it's easy to start making connections between certain stars and their frequent co-stars. For example, Scientologists Giovanni Ribisi and Juliette Lewis have appeared together on-screen in what could possibly be a Scientology scheme.
You have John Lennon, you have Paul McCartney, you have Ringo Starr and you have George Harrison. These are the four Beatles, obviously, but the first two are certainly a lot more notable than the last two, primarily because of their equally popular solo work that followed on the heels of their contributions to the group.
Easily the most famous and controversial member of the Church of Scientology, action movie star Tom Cruise is practically the poster child for Scientologists everywhere. Cherished by the leaders of the Church and despised by the Church's most vocal opponents, Cruise literally embodies Scientology.
California's Rainbow Commune wasn't the first — and probably won't be the last — collective living community to enforce no running water or electricity. Still, that doesn't make actress Winona Ryder's upbringing at the Rainbow Commune any less personal or troubling.
Recognizable for her recent run on NBC's Parenthood throughout the 2010s, actress Erika Christensen is just as noteworthy for her work in the early 2000s. From Steven Soderbergh's Traffic to the notoriously cheesy 2002 film Swimfan, Christensen has been entertaining fans for years.
Launched into the pop culture stratosphere in recent years for her pioneering of the #MeToo movement and her legal action against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Rose McGowan is equal parts movie star and activist. Coincidentally, she was also formerly a part of the Children of God cult.
Bart Simpson is not a Scientologist. The voice of Bart Simpson — well, that’s an entirely different story. Nancy Cartwright gives Bart his snarky voice, and she has been involved in the Church of Scientology for as long as The Simpsons have been on the air. This is, of course, more concerning with each passing year.
Dennis Wilson, one of the original members of the iconic Beach Boys and the middle brother to fellow bandmates Carl and Brian Wilson, made innumerable contributions to one of the most instantly recognizable bands of all time. Unfortunately, he also did the same for infamous serial killer Charles Manson and his Manson Family cult.
Co-star of cult — that would be a different kind of cult, of course — NBC comedy My Name Is Earl, actor Ethan Suplee has appeared in all kinds of roles across film and television since Earl was cancelled in the late 2000s. No matter what he's starring in lately, though, he remains loyal to his faith.
Like Dennis Wilson, Neil Young is a name that any music fan is likely to recognize, even if they haven't listened to their music or attended one of their concerts or bought some of their merch. Also like Dennis Wilson, Neil Young was no stranger to Charles Manson.
These days, Danny Masterson is a name that comes with a lot of heavy baggage. Not only is the actor an active member of the Church of Scientology, but he has had quite a number of sexual misconduct claims filed against him in recent years.
Former Batman actor and star of the acclaimed biopic The Doors, Val Kilmer is one of the most unique actors of our time. While he hasn't been seen in a while — possibly due to an unannounced illness, at least according to rumors — Kilmer remains a recognizable name and a great actor all the same.
The other member of the seminal rock band known as The Beatles who found himself scuffing up against a famous cult is John Lennon. Although it had nothing to do with his tragic and untimely death at the hands of a delusional fan, it's still worth exploring the bizarre nature of the man Lennon pledged to follow.
One of the most prominent up-and-comers of the 2010s, Riley Keough starred in such films as Mad Max: Fury Road, American Honey and It Comes at Night. So, would you be surprised to learn she’s also the granddaughter of Elvis Presley?
The brother of George W. and Jeb and the son of George H.W. and Barbara, Neil Bush is the Bush brother who seems to have slipped under the radar for the most part. That doesn't mean that he's free from the controversy that surrounds the rest of his family, however.
Unlike many of the other Scientologists and religious cult members in our world today, Leah Remini is a reformed member of the Church of Scientology who has made it her life's mission to help those who are trapped in the church, as she once was herself. She has revealed various shocking secrets about the cult’s practices.