Michelle Pfeiffer reveals cult past where she subsisted on only ‘sunshine’

Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer has a new interview with the Sunday Telegraph to promote the The Family, which didn’t exactly set the US box office on fire. Michelle’s career is definitely one that ebbs and flows. She makes a lot of strange choices but sometimes finds a hit. I’m sure she’s not receiving the greatest scripts because options are so limited for women over 40 in Hollywood. She’s still making it though, and she looks ravishing in the process.

Michelle is pulling out the big guns in her arsenal to publicize this movie. In doing so, she’s dredged up a bit of her past that comes as quite a surprise. She reveals that she was a cult member when she was just 20 years old. Michelle was sucked in by an organization that pushed breatharianism, which is the ability to live without food and water. The cult believed that food is unnecessary and that all nourishment that a body needs comes from … sunlight alone. Not surprisingly, Michelle now says this is a diet that “nobody can adhere to.” No kidding:

On realizing she was in a cult: Michelle was ‘saved’ when she was introduced to her first husband, Peter Horton, the actor. He had been cast in a film about the Moonies, the name given to followers of Rev Moon Sun-myung’s Unification Church. She said that while she was helping him with research “on this cult” she realised: “I was in one. We were talking with an ex-Moonie and he was describing the psychological manipulation and I just clicked.”

The cult’s leaders were pseudo-“personal trainers”: “They worked with weights and put people on diets. Their thing was vegetarianism. 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. They believed that people in their highest state were breatharian.”

On aging and plastic surgery: “The loss of youth, the loss of beauty — it definitely plays havoc with your psyche. There’s this transition from, ‘Wow, she looks really young for her age,’ to, ‘She looks great for her age.’ And there’s a big difference. I’m now at, ‘She looks great for her age.’ There is certainly a mourning process to that. I used to think I would never have surgery but it’s really hard to say never. I’m in the ‘never say never’ camp now.”

On adopting a child before marrying David Kelley: “One thing I’m not short on is courage. I’d been really desperate to start a family for a long time. And then I was 33 and I just thought ‘You know, I don’t want to wait any more’.” She said that her desire to have children “was colouring my relationships. I was maybe hanging on to some that I shouldn’t have.”

[From Telegraph UK]

I’m not sure what Michelle means by saying “their thing was vegetarianism” when she speaks of the cult’s leaders. Maybe they started out pushing vegetarianism to followers, and the rules gradually became more stringent until no food was allowed at all. That’s a pretty dumb way of preaching, you know? When followers are dropping off like flies (sorry to be gruesome), they can’t exactly churn up new revenue. Dumb cult.

Pfeiffer is a strict vegan these days and seems pretty happy about it. At least we now know why she never stumbled into Scientology.

Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer

Photos courtesy of WENN

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35 Responses to “Michelle Pfeiffer reveals cult past where she subsisted on only ‘sunshine’”

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  1. teehee says:

    I’ve heard of it — “sun gazing”. Looking directly at the sun at particular hours of the day/angles of light could replace the need for food. As a cult, though? People will turn anything into a control mechanism I guess.

  2. Kiddo says:

    I’m in the ‘never say never’ camp now.”

    No, she’s in the “already tinkered camp”.

  3. T.fanty says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t get this. Or Scientology. How do people sell this crap with a straight face? The psychology of cults is fascinating and horrific.

  4. It'sJustBlanche says:

    Eh, I actually think she does look very young for her age. Could maybe put in a few pounds.

  5. Miss M says:

    I saw “The family” and I thought it had pretty funny moments. They have great chemistry.

    I remember when I was a teen, hearing some celebs in the news saying something about the “Sun” back in my country. I really don’t understand how people fall for these things. I am glad she got out.

  6. Miss Jupitero says:

    I knew someone who believed in this. She was a Scottish artist. Imagine believing that the sun provides perfect nourishment and deciding to live in Scotland? Anyway…. She was highly anorexic, compulsive about food, and about perfection. Spiritually perfect people need no food at all etc.

  7. Santolina says:

    It’s courageous of her to talk about her cult experience. Maybe more well-known people will open up about it. Cults aren’t as brazen as they were back in the 70’s but they’re still around and they still prey on young people.

  8. Emma33 says:

    LOL Miss Jupitero! if she was an artist in Florida it may have made a little more sense! Yesterday I finished reading a really interesting book on cults, by the woman who testified against Warren Jeffs. I’m interested in the ways that people get sucked into cults and this book, (“the witness wore red”) did a really thorough job of explaining it. Interestingly enough, some of the research into cults shows that their recruits often have higher than average intelligence, so the common idea that you have to be dumb to fall into a cult isn’t true. (I remember reading that a few years ago but am not sure where.)

    I have been reading this site for a year but this is my first post. Hi all!

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I’m glad you wrote that part about some people who follow cults have a higher intelligence, cause I was just thinking….What a dope!!!!

    • Santolina says:

      Eric Hoffer’s famous book, “The True Believer” helped me understand the psychology behind cults and the different life situations that might make anyone vulnerable (youthful idealism, loss, alienation, hopelessness, etc.).

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      It is not about intelligence. People who join cults are typically craving community and an outlet for their idealism in a culture that provides little of either. I think cults are a reflection of our own dysfunction.

    • Claudia says:

      Good point, Emma. It’s an extreme example, but it reminds me of the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo Subway. The attacks were masterminded and perpetrated by the Aum Shinrikyo cult; a cult that was also notable for attracting highly educated members (including scientists, medical specialists, doctors, physicists, and so on), many of whom abandoned their families to join the cult. Scary stuff.

  9. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I liked her honesty about aging. I’ve stopped saying “never,” too. I probably won’t do anything, but watching the changes as you age is hard sometimes. Not hard like death or illness or money worries, but she’s right that there is a mourning process when your beauty diminishes. It’s not the end of the world, and hopefully you have a full life with many blessings to be grateful for and focus on, but beauty is power in a way, and you lose that as you age. It feels like you might become invisible altogether. It must be even harder when your career is based largely on your looks as well. I’m trying really hard to celebrate my 50s and focus on the many good things happening, and of course, I was never MP in the first place as far as looks go, but it’s a challenge.

    • hadleyb says:

      What honesty? She’s had plastic surgery in the past years ago.

      She looks good, not young but not plastic either. She put on weight, she used to be so thin so I think that helps her face as well.

      But I never believe she hasn’t had anything done.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I meant her honesty in admitting that aging is scary and sort of sad, instead of jumping on the bandwagon of how super fabulous it is to be in your 50s, how you finally know who you are and don’t care about what anyone else thinks, blah blah blah. A lot of that is true, but there are also a lot of challenges your 50s, including changes to your appearance.

    • Cora says:

      @ GoodNamesAllTaken

      I like your honesty about aging, as well. I thought I was going to be that person who didn’t care about the change to my looks over time. Well, I thought that when I was young! Then when those changes actually started to happen, I was really taken aback by how hard I was taking it. It’s not easy to watch your beauty and youth fade. Some days it can be very hard.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, it can be very hard. I think working on acceptance and embracing aging isn’t as easy as people make it sound. I’m getting there, but it’s work. It’s the kind of thing that strengthens you and builds character, but along the way there is some sadness and loss.

    • Kiddo says:

      That’s why it’s important to know the power of sexual appeal, but not to focus or rely entirely on it, and to put more effort into abilities, talent and knowledge. When something like appearance is your only asset, you will be destroyed when it is gone. I’m not saying that about you. You seem very balanced and self aware.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Thank you, Kiddo. That’s exactly what I tell my nieces – enjoy your beauty, but don’t exploit it or depend on it, because if that’s all you have you’ll be nothing when it changes. Plus you’ll miss out on the best parts of yourself and of life.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        That’s what my mom used to tell my older sister. My older sister is sooo beautiful. She’s half Italian, half black–so she’s got white skin, dark looks (black curly hair, thick eyebrows, green eyes), and she is just so gorgeous. Unfortunately, she’s one of those people who know it too. And my mom tried to tell her that being beautiful shouldn’t be the only thing you’ve got. It’s like w/Angelina Jolie. I think that she is just absolutely gorgeous. I always have. But there are other actresses that I think are gorgeous as well, but I don’t like them as much as I do her. I like her because of the other things that she does with her time–her charity work. Because you need more than beauty to keep people interested–whether they be your friends, family, lovers.

        I remember when I was in seventh grade, I had a massive crush on this boy. I thought he was the cutest thing–looking back, he wasn’t all that good looking, but I was 13, cut me a break. Well anyway, we only had one class together, and I used that class to sneak glances at him all hour (it was art and we had a crazy teacher so I could do it). Well one day, I walked past him, came back in a few seconds later, and he was laughing–him and his friends. He was laughing at me.

        One of the things that I hate about myself (I have pretty low self esteem when it comes to my body) is that I have really thick hair. It’s not that I am like the bearded lady or anything, but where someone might have peach fuzz on their chin or lip, I can grow a (thin) mustache. The hair on my arms are thick. And I hate it–in 9th grade my arms were hairier than my teachers (embarrassing). But anyway, all I heard was something like “she has a mustache”–which I hadn’t been too bothered by it, so I didn’t shave. Well I did after that. and I didn’t think that boy was cute anymore.

        Anyway, sorry for the long rant…

      • nicegirl says:

        Virgilia Coriolanus, you are a darling. Your inner beauty shines through in every comment you make here. I love your honesty and the way you see others’ beauty. Your sister is lucky to have you.

        I use that Oil of Olay facial hair remover stuff. IT WORKS, it did not bother my sensitive skin and it does not smell disgusting. I used it on my forearm to allergy check and it worked there, too.

        Best to you!

      • Ellen says:

        Unfortunately, just around the time women who have cultivated independence, intelligence and spirit are coping with the loss of whatever level of youthful beauty they may have had, the men who supposedly appreciated them for their independence, intelligence and spirit are dumping them for something younger, and perhaps not so intelligent or spirited or independent. And then pointing out the older woman’s fabulous competence when discussing with the divorce attorney why they shouldn’t have to split assets.

        Its a double edged sword. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
        (sorry to sound so crabby, I wish our inner selves counted for more)

    • Spooks says:

      I can’t help but be annoyed at her comments. You were beautiful and now you’re older. Men don’t open doors anymore. Cry me a river. At least she was beautiful at some point in her life. Try being invisible from the get go.

  10. Jujitsu says:


  11. Annie says:

    I like that she looks like a beautiful older woman who is naturally aging. She looks 100% better than the many other beautiful older women doing god-awful things to their faces in hopes of staving off the aging process indefinitely. In reality, many only accomplish looking a bit pathetic and plastic. If MP has had fillers, Botox, and procedures done, at least it’s subtlety performed and leaves her looking natural and as beautiful as she has always looked.

  12. ataylor says:

    Ironically, she studied acting (with George Clooney — who dated her sister DeeDee) at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in the 80’s. Their acting coach Milton Katselas (and most of the teachers there) were/are hard core Scientologists. In fact, several friends of mine who also studied there (when Milton was still alive) said they were pretty strict with Scientology rules, “ethics”, study tech and so forth. They were heavily encouraged to participate in Scientology events. Shocked there aren’t more Scientology actors/actresses around. BH Playhouse is/was a really really good and popular acting school.

    • KaitX says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a lot more actors involved with or at least sympathetic to Scientology, we just don’t know about it!

      • Charlotte says:

        Maybe at some point, but not now. I think a lot of Hollywood types used to ‘tolerate’ Co$ and $cilons back when they had influence, but those days are gone. At it’s only going further downhill for the cult.

  13. TG says:

    How does one reply to someone’s comment using Safari on the iPhone? I can’t use google anymore because all the comments appear in double now.

    Anyway I was going to add some insight into cult mind control. I think it works in part because cults always seem to set an unattainable goal that everyone wants to reach. I mean if you are in a group and the leader tells you that if you are good enough and work hard enough you can get to a certain level than of course most people want to get to that level because it will mean they are special and also that they have achieved something. I rember years ago one of my older brother’s was trying to get me and another brother and sister if mine into Amway. I was onto him and told him to stay the heck away from me but my sister fell for it and she went to a lecture on how to be successful and played the tapes and I remember how she kept saying that she can get to level 3 or something don’t remember the exact words but I saw what it was doing to her. Making her feel she wasn’t good enough and she already suffered from crippling low self-esteem. It broke her and even though she got out of selling the crap I don’t think she has ever been the same since and that was almost 20 years ago.

  14. Grant says:

    Oh my goodness, how incredibly silly. I can’t believe people actually believe ridiculous dogma like “breathairianism.”

  15. poppy says:

    never say never? really?

    she’s had plenty of plastic surgery and is extremely hypocritical.

  16. caitrin says:

    Poppy: Yes, michelle has had PLENTY of plastic surgery, and it’s ridiculous and hypocritical of her to pretend that she has not. Her deceptiveness makes it harder for me to believe (or care) about any other things she has to say.