Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the stars who've had unusual childhoods… Starting with Rose McGowan. The actress spent her early years in Italy and traveling between communes as a member of the Children of God, a controversial fundamentalist Christian sect. The group believed in free love attitudes and preparing for the second coming of Jesus. However, Rose told People, her family left when the group began advocating for child-adult sexual relations. "Like in most cults, you were cut off from your [outside] family," she told the mag. "There were no newspapers, no television. You were kept in the dark so you would obey. It was not a wealthy existence." She and her family moved the United States, but "it was not an easy assimilation," Rose added. "My brothers and sisters, we thought everyone was boring." At 13, Rose not only ran away from home but was taken in by two drag queens and a stripper. She told Vulture that they taught her how to do checkerboard makeup to complete her Charlie Chaplin look. Speaking of Charlie, keep reading to see him and more celebs who had upbringings you won't believe!
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Leah Remini told People magazine about her childhood as a member of Scientology. "[My mother] told my sister [Nicole, then 10], and me that we were spiritual beings and we were going to start learning to communicate and not attack each other. As a kid, it's very empowering," Leah explained. She also told the mag that she and her sister lived in a roach-infested motel room with six other girls, that she dropped out of school in eighth grade and that she was assigned to do 12 hours of labor a day as a member of the faith's Sea Org division. She claimed that the labor included cleaning hotel rooms. When her family moved to Los Angeles, they were "scraping to get by, living on a friend's floor, trying to get our own apartment and paying for Scientology [courses]." Leah famously left the controversial religion in 2013.
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Jim Carrey opened up to "Inside The Actors Studio" about how his normal childhood upbringing changed as soon as his dad lost his job at the age of 51. "We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors," Jim said.
"I didn't have a childhood," Katy Perry told Vanity Fair in 2011. "I come from a very non-accepting family, but I'm very accepting." She further explained, "Sometimes when children grow up, their parents grow up. Mine grew up with me. We coexist." Katy was raised by Christian missionary parents. She's said that her friends had to sneak her CDs because her parents banned secular music in their home. The future pop star was also banned from saying "deviled eggs" and "Dirt Devil." We can only hope that she got out of vacuuming!
Liev Schreiber grew up unconventionally with a hippie mother. She was a cab driver who also made papier-mâché puppets. Liev's mother and father split after his birth, but drama continued between them long after. His father tried to have his mother committed to a mental institution. At the age of 3, Liev was kidnapped by his mother and then by his father. His mom ended up winning custody but bankrupted the family with legal fees.
Oscar winner Hilary Swank grew up in a trailer park in Bellingham, Washington. The high school dropout has said that she was shunned by classmates for being poor. After Hilary's father left her family and her mother lost her job, she and her mom moved to California and lived out of an Oldsmobile so that she could audition for acting roles.
When Leighton Meester's mother was pregnant with her, she was arrested for her role in smuggling marijuana out of Jamaica in 1983. She was able to give birth to Leighton in a hospital and nurse her for three months in a halfway house before returning to prison. Leighton's father was also involved in the smuggling ring so Leighton was cared for by her grandmother. "My family has a crazy history. Probably the craziest I've ever heard of," she admitted to Marie Claire magazine in March 2012. Leighton added that as a child, she preferred to take acting classes with adults because she "couldn't relate to kid stuff."
Glenn Close was 7 when her dad joined the Moral Re-Armament religious group. She grew up in the cult with her family until she was 22. "You basically weren't allowed to do anything, or you were made to feel guilty about any unnatural desire. 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 7 till the time you're 22, it has a profound impact on you," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's something you have to [consciously overcome] because all of your trigger points are [wrong]."
Winona Ryder and her family moved to the Rainbow commune in Northern California when she was 7. For three years, they lived on 300 acres with seven other families who also lived off the land and were self-sufficient without electricity.
When Jewel was 6, she was already performing with her singer/songwriter parents. They divorced, and she continued to tour with her dad when she was a child. In her memoir "Never Broken — Songs Are Only Half the Story," Jewel talks about living on her own at the age of 15, earning a scholarship to Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts at 16 and graduating two years later. She then moved to San Diego to join her mother, but ended up homeless and living out of her car at 18. Luckily, she signed an album deal a year after moving to San Diego.
Bethenny Frankel said that she was "raised in a cave… by wolves" during the first episode of "Bethenny Getting Married," and she further detailed her childhood to People. "I never had a true childhood," she said. "There was a lot of destruction: alcohol abuse, eating disorders and violent fights." Bethenny's father was a legendary horse trainer and according to her, he "lived a very hotshot life — drugs, young girls." She continued, "It wasn't a life for a little girl. I never watched cartoons. I was always at restaurants or the racetrack." As for her mom, Bethenny said, "She was never a mother to me."
David Arquette was born into the Skymont Subud commune in Virginia. David told Oprah Winfrey in 2011 that he stole his first beer from his father at the age of 4. He stole his dad's pot when he was just 8 and began seriously drinking at 12. His sisters Rosanna and Patricia Arquette also spoke to Oprah about the drama in their family home. Rosanna said that their mother once stabbed her in the arm, and Patricia said that their mother had choked her to the point that she almost blacked out. Years later, their father got sober, and their mother became a marriage and family counselor.
When Joaquin Phoenix was a child, he and his family were members of the Children of God cult. Joaquin told Playboy magazine in December 2014, "When people bring up Children of God, there's always something vaguely accusatory about it. It's guilt by association. I think it was really innocent on my parents' part. They really believed, but I don't think most people see it that way. I've always thought that was strange and unfair. I think my parents thought they'd found a community that shared their ideals. Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It's usually someone saying, 'We're like-minded people. This is a community,' but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out."
Tatum O'Neal became the youngest Academy Award winner when she took home an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the age of 10 for her performance as Addie Loggins in "Paper Moon" alongside her father, Ryan O'Neal. When talking about her childhood, Tatum has claimed that her dad was abusive and in her memoir "A Paper Life," she writes that he left her and her brother home alone as children. Before living with her father, Tatum was sent to boarding school at the age of 8 after her mother could no longer care for her due to addictions to drugs and alcohol.
When the late Charlie Chaplin was 10, he and brother Sydney had to fend for themselves. Their father had died and their mother suffered from mental illness. In order to support himself, Charlie entered show business. And the rest is history!
The late comedian Richard Pryor was born to a prostitute and a violent pimp. Growing up, his grandmother was his guardian. She owned the brothel where his mother worked. Yes, he was raised in a brothel.
When Dylan McDermott was just 5, his mother, Diane McDermott, died from a gunshot wound to the head. Police classified it as an accidental shooting and it remained that way for 45 years — until Dylan got cops to reopen the case in 2012. It turns out that Diane had actually been murdered by her gangster boyfriend John Sponza, who was later killed (his body was found in the trunk of a car in 1972). Diane's mother cared for both the future Golden Globe winner and his little sister while working two jobs and raising them in a rough neighborhood.
In a June 2016 interview with Britain's "Lorraine" show, Kate Mulgrew said that she not only was born with a full set of teeth but that she spent the early years of her childhood in a cage. The "Orange Is the New Black" actress explained that her parents kept her kenneled because of her inability to feel pain. "They built me a little cage, because I had no sense of pain until I was 4 years old," she said. "So I was born with teeth and had no sense of pain. Shakespeare would have had a field day. It's a witch! That's what a witch is."
During his Sydney Opera House public talk, "Jackie Chan in Conversation," Jackie Chan discussed what it was like after he moved to Australia from Hong Kong at the age of 13. Jackie, who did not know English, recalled, "My father used to leave me at the shopping mall daily before heading off to work. He would also give me some money to buy food. As I couldn't speak a word of English then, I had a hard time buying food with the money my father had left me. When people spoke to me in English, I would just nod my head and walk away, because I didn't know how to answer them back. In the end, I would stay hungry for hours and by the time my father came [to pick me], I would be starving." After struggling, Jackie learned English and got a job at a construction company. He was given the name Jack by the owner of the company, who was also named Jack. Jackie added the "ie" when a Feng Shui expert told him that it would bring him luck.
It turns out that the woman Jack Nicholson thought was his sister growing up was actually his mother. At the age of 37, Jack learned that the woman he'd thought was his mother was actually his grandmother. As a single and pregnant 16-year-old, Jack's mom decided that she would pretend to be his sister instead. Both his grandmother and mother died before telling him the truth.