20 years before Allison Mack was charged for sex trafficking as part of her alleged involvement with NXIVM, she was a child actor who occasionally ran into Mara Wilson. Now Wilson, who has retired from acting after starring in movies like “Matilda,” has written an essay for Elle in which she explains the appeal of a so-called sex cult to someone like Mack or even herself: Actors “make great acolytes.”
“People also tend to turn to spirituality in times of uncertainty, and there is no career more uncertain than acting. Maybe that faith is something they need to keep them going, to believe that they are truly “#blessed.” (And more than one acting class in the Los Angeles area is sponsored by a controversial religious organization.),” Wilson writes.
“You need to have something to believe in. Sensitive, spiritual, soul-searching. It’s everything an organization like NXIVM could want.”
Mara clarifies that she “couldn’t make any sense of” the teachings of Keith Raniere, the leader of NXIVM, and that it “sounded like [Mack] just wanted to be real.” She then posits that actors are used to the structure of both film sets and acting classes, where either a director or teacher is there to tell them what to do — which might help explain the appeal of a cult ruled over by a charismatic leader.
Wilson also reveals that she was offered a part in the upcoming anti-abortion movie “Roe v. Wade,” and she thinks she knows why: The “right-wing Christian movie” was hoping to change her mind and use her as an example of a former Hollywood star who had seen the light and redeemed herself.
“People expect actors who don’t act as much anymore to be lost. It’s a narrative they want to craft for us: that we are struggling and in need of guidance, that we have consciously turned away from Hollywood,” she writes. “If we’re struggling with mental illness and addiction, so much the better. They want to be the ones to show us the way. They want us to be their success story.”
Returning to Mack, Wilson suggests that, “perhaps, like me, she craved structure, validation, and to feel like she was a part of something. It in no way excuses what she has allegedly done, but it might explain it.” Read her full essay here.