Glenn Close Reveals Childhood In Cult
Glenn Close, who has always kept her personal life private, revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she spent part of her childhood in a religious cult known as the Moral Re-Armament that her father Dr. William Taliaferro Close—who played a major role in stemming the 1976 outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Congo—initially joined before involving his family in it too. Close was in the cult from 7 to 22. Not much is known about the cult, though Close reflects that for two years she and her family lived at the cult’s Switzerland-base that she described as a “very glamorous, exclusive hotel” until they ultimately relocated back to Connecticut.
"You basically weren't allowed to do anything, or you were made to feel guilty about any unnatural desire," Close said. "If you talk to anybody who was in a group that basically dictates how you're supposed to live and what you're supposed to say and how you're supposed to feel, from the time you're seven till the time you're 22, it has a profound impact on you."
It wasn't until Close enrolled at the College of William & Mary when she could escape. She did not reveal how it was that she managed to extricate herself from the MRA noting, “I’m not going to go into all of that. You can’t in an interview,” though she also said it was lucky that the cult never attempted to lure or take her back.
The experience had damaged her, of course, and affected her relationships and thinking for years after the ordeal had finally ended.
"I would have dreams because I didn't go to any psychiatrist or anything," she explained. "I had these dreams, and they started with betrayal, a sense of betrayal, and then they developed into me being able to look at these people and say, ‘You're wrong. You're wrong.' And then the final incarnation of those dreams was me being able to calmly get up and walk away. And then I didn't have them anymore."
Close managed to get beyond the trauma, and created a successful life and career. She is a three-time Emmy and Tony Award winner and a multiple Academy Award nominee. Currently, she has returned to Broadway starring opposite John Lithgow in Pam MacKinnon's revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. She has stated that she forgives the MRA—which changed its name to Initiatives of Change in 2001—for what it did to her and her family.
"I always thought, the way life works, the burden of forgiveness is on the child," she said. "That's the way it goes. Forgiveness is probably the most revolutionary concept there is right now in our world. Because without forgiveness, you just perpetuate what has been before. You [have to] say, ‘It's going to stop with me.'"