How Michelle Pfeiffer Accidentally Got Involved In A Bizarre Cult

Michelle Pfeiffer has acted since she was just 20 years old. And not just in any roles, but iconic ones like Catwoman in 1992's "Batman Returns" and the icy Elvira in 1983's "Scarface." Pfeiffer took a big break from acting for a decade which made many fans assume she retired. In a feature for Interview in 2017, Pfeiffer told director Darren Aronofsky that her feelings for her art haven't changed, but she found herself so particular with roles that she was "unhirable."

Pfeiffer is back on the acting scene, and she's opened up more about her personal life. When speaking with Urbanette, the actor revealed that she's a longtime vegan. "Eating a vegan diet — it's just so much healthier — and you avoid a lot of toxins that could age your skin and your body," Pfeiffer said. "The older I've gotten, the more it's occurred to me that I'm doing it in order to live longer, though the vanity component will always be there."

But as a young actress looking for her place in Hollywood in the late 1970s, she was vulnerable and became wrapped up in a bizarre cult. What started out as a simple health fad soon became something much more dangerous.

Michelle Pfeiffer found herself in a cult that didn't believe in food or water

According to USA Today, Michelle Pfeiffer told The Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine in 2013 that she found herself involved in "breatharianism" as a newcomer to the Los Angeles acting scene. Per GQ, the health cult believes that humans only need sunlight and air to survive. Pfeiffer says she was introduced by a couple when she was 20 and fresh to Hollywood. This pair claimed to be personal trainers. "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," the actor said. "I had to pay for all the time I was there, so it was financially very draining."  According to Vanity Fair, they "worked with weights" and nutrition, which made them seem like any other Californian diet-fad types to Pfeiffer.

While trying to navigate this strange world, Pfeiffer was trying to break into acting while avoiding typecasting. She told The New York Times in 1995 that she "needed to learn how to act," because in the meantime, she "was playing bimbos and cashing in on my looks." But even though critics like Pauline Kael described Pfeiffer as "paradisically beautiful," the actor still obsessed over any possible physical flaws. Pfeiffer made sure to choose roles that showed hardworking women, "because that's who I am," she said at the time.

Michelle Pfeiffer managed to make a serious acting career

In her first big role, Pfeiffer was cast as Stephanie Zinone in "Grease 2." Even though the movie bombed, The New York Times wrote in their review of the 1982 movie that newcomer Pfeiffer "manages to look much more insouciant and comfortable than anyone else in the cast." 

As her career took off, she came to realize that she was in a dangerous situation. Pfeiffer says she didn't perceive the danger she was really in until her first husband, Peter Horton, helped her see how controlling these "personal trainers" really were. USA Today reported that Horton was researching the Unification Church, better known as the Moonies, for a role and the similarities struck Pfeiffer. "We were talking with an ex-Moonie and he was describing the psychological manipulation, and I just clicked," she described the moment she understood breatharianism is a cult. "I was in one."

The Sun (via the New York Post) reports that people still teach and preach this unhealthy method, including a couple who claims they haven't eaten in almost a decade. The Breatharian Institute of America was founded by Wiley Brooks, who claimed lived without food for 19 years, per SFGate. Brooks was accused of eating fast food by a disillusioned follower in 1983.