'90s Teen Idol Andrew Keegan Clears Up Rumors He Became a "Cult Leader"
The 10 Things I Hate About You star denies that his spiritual organization is a cult.
Andrew Keegan went from teen idol to cult leader—or so many people believe. In the late '90s and early 2000s, the actor came to fame via roles in 10 Things I Hate About You, 7th Heaven, and Party of Five, as well as appearances on teen sitcoms such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Moesha, and Boy Meets World. While he's continued to act—albeit in lesser known projects—reports began to emerge 10 years ago that Keegan had also started a spiritual group that was characterized by some as a cult.
As reported by Variety, Keegan appeared on the Feb. 12 episode of the Boy Meets World re-watch podcast Pod Meets World to talk about his guest starring role in a 1996 episode. He also addressed rumors that he's become a "cult leader," which are linked to what he says is a "community center" he founded in Venice Beach, California.
In 2014, Vice published an article about Keegan and his organization, Full Circle, titled "One of the Stars of 10 Things I Hate About You Started a Religion." The article refers to Full Circle as a church and reports that it was based in a former church-turned-Hare Krishna temple. Per Vice, there were eight core members, who said that Keegan had "ultimate say on all things." These members described what they were doing in Full Circle as "advanced spiritualism" and "the highest spiritualism founded on universal knowledge." The article notes that the church held events, including political meetings, concerts, and a workshop about a colon cleanse. Services involved meditation and using crystals.
On Pod Meets World, Keegan called the article and the gossip that began spreading about his new venture "clickbait."
"There was this interesting group of hippie types, if you will, in Venice," he explained on the podcast. "I was connected with some folks and we had this opportunity. This old Hare Krishna Temple, it was sitting there empty and we were like, 'Why don't we get some people together and let's open this place up?'" He continued, "Looking back, it was insane. I was putting down tens of thousands of dollars, but we opened it up and spent three years and really did build an amazing friend group. We went through something really significant from 2014 to 2017."
The 45-year-old actor said that Full Circle was actually "the opposite of what you would imagine" based on the cult reports. "There was no doctrine. We were just getting people together," he said. "'The Co-Creator's Handbook' was the handbook we used… For all intents and purposes, it was a really cool community center for a bunch of people in Venice for a few years."
Keegan admitted that it may have been a mistake to name the group Full Circle. He joked, "I look back at it now and I'm like, I don't know anybody else who is being called a cult leader so it's kind of like a badge of honor."
The 45-year-old has endeavored to combat cult accusations in the past. In 2015, he told the Los Angeles Times that he was creating a "spiritual community center." He added, "There's a lot of 'woo woo' in New Age. I refer to it as spiritual ego. Even the whole guru thing that they keep associating with me. That's the old paradigm, having someone to follow who's more enlightened than you. That's over."
As reported by Variety, Keegan also explained on Pod Meets World that he filed a defamation lawsuit related to Full Circle against Examiner and Anschutz Entertainment in 2015. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the church was raided over kombucha sales. Keegan explained that he was not there at the time, though the article published by Examiner said that he had been arrested. The lawsuit was dismissed.
As reported by Entertainment Tonight, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control learned that Full Circle was serving kombucha at a fundraiser without a permit—this is illegal, since the fermented drink contains a small amount of alcohol. The organization was given a misdemeanor citation for selling alcohol without a license. Keegan told the Argonaut (via ET), "Kombucha is something we'd never imagine to be an illegal substance."