Hollywood Stars Who Quit Acting For Good

The life of a Hollywood actor appears so amazing, enjoyable and glamorous, that we can’t understand why anyone would ever want to give it up.

We’re sure that the constant hounding by Paparazzi and fans would occasionally prove tiresome, and negative feedback from critics about your acting talents is bound to get you down sometimes. But surely the millionaire-making pay packets and chance to star in some amazing movies would be more than enough to keep you pressing forward?

Below are eight Hollywood stars who decided to pack it all in and quit acting for good. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether they made the correct decision or not!

Rick Moranis

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Credit: Lauren Brown via Flickr

Rick Moranis starred in a number of the 1980’s biggest hits, including Ghostbusters, Spaceballs and Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

However, the tragic death of his wife Ann Belsky from cancer in 1991 caused him to slowly leave the public eye, so he could instead focus on being a full-time single dad.

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Moranis said in 1997 that: “I’m a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage to raise my kids and to do the traveling involved in making movies.

“So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it.”

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However, it has now been a full decade since the death of his wife, and Moranis is slowly inching back towards the spotlight, appearing in Netflix’s An Afternoon with SCTV.

It’s also been confirmed that he’ll star in the upcoming Honey, I Shrunk the Kids film, and we can’t wait to have him back on our screens!



Cameron Diaz

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Credit: David Shankbone via Flickr

Were we the only ones who had no idea that Cameron Diaz had retired from acting?

Yes, the star of There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels and My Best Friend’s Wedding was last seen in 2014’s Annie, after which she quietly left the spotlight.

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Diaz revealed in 2017 that she had become overwhelmed by the travel and work requirements of her acting career, saying “I can’t really say who I am to myself. Which is a hard thing to face up to. I felt the need to make myself whole.”

She has since written two books, called The Body Book and The Longevity Book.

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Credit: Glyn Love www.GlynLowe.com via Wikimedia Commons

However, her last acting job was in the Annie reboot, within which her performance was massively polarising.

Daniel Day-Lewis

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Credit: Jaguar MENA via Wikimedia Commons

When you hear about the extreme lengths that three times Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis goes to in preparation for his roles, then it shouldn’t come as much surprised to hear that he’s decided to hang up his method acting boots.

Day-Lewis’ final role was in Phantom Thread, and although he seems adamant that it’s the last time we’ll see him on the silver screen, we wouldn’t be too surprised if he takes on another role when he decides that the time is right.

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It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for him to come out of retirement, since he has done it on at least one other occasion.

After starring in Hamlet on London’s West End in the late nineties, he famously stopped making movies, due to becoming extremely selective about the roles he accepted.

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When asked why he was prone to taking such prolonged breaks, he explained that he needed time away to get to know himself, in order to bring truer performances when he was acting.

Shirley Temple

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Credit: Film Star Vintage via Flickr

One of the most famous Hollywood child actors of all time, the late Shirley Temple was the number one US box office star between 1935 and 1938.

But as she grew into adulthood, Temple’s box office appeal declined, and she retired from acting in 1950 at the age of 22, later returning to the spotlight when she became the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989.

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Credit: The U.S. National Archives

She actually formally retired twice, stepping away when she turned 12 for a pretty understandable reason.

Thinking she had missed out on her education as a child star, she retired first to complete her schooling, before attempting a comeback in her twenties.

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Credit: Kate Gabrielle via Flickr

It was only when this return to the spotlight didn’t pan out the way she expected, that she decided an adult acting career wasn’t actually what she wanted.

Gene Hackman

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Two time Oscar winner Gene Hackman made his name in his 40s when he starred in The French Connection in 1971, and he subsequently starred in a number of other big movies, which included playing Lex Luthor in Superman and Superman II.

Hackman’s final role was in 2004’s critically panned Mooseport, and despite never officially confirming his retirement, he has not taken any more projects since, instead choosing to write novels.

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He wrote pretty prolifically between the years of 2004 and 2008 – co-authoring four crime novels with Daniel Lenihan, calledWake of the Perdido Star, Justice for None, Vermillion, and Escape from Andersonville.

He also wrote two more novels entirely by himself in that time, called Payback at Morning Peak, and Pursuit.

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When asked if he would ever consider returning to the screen, he replied “if I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people”. So that’s a no then.

Elizabeth Hurley

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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery star Elizabeth Hurley decided to quit acting in 2002, so she could focus on raising her son Damian.

However, in 2015 Hurley did return to the small screen, starring in the E! original series The Royals, a US soap opera based on the Michelle Ray novel Falling for Hamlet.

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Hurley’s time in the spotlight had been plagued with drama from the start, ever since the early days when she was mostly referred to in the magazines as “Hugh Grant’s girlfriend”.

She also had to deal with a messy public divorce around the time of her retiring from the entertainment world, which impacted both her and her child.

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Most recently, she made the headlines for expressing support for Brexit, and encouraging others to vote the same way.

Sir Sean Connery

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Former James Bond Sir Sean Connery’s last movie role was in the critical and commercial failure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003.

However, he didn’t officially confirm his retirement until he picked up the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

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Credit: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons

According to his good friend Sir Michael Caine, Connery “didn’t want to play small parts about old men and they weren’t offering him any young parts in romantic leads.”

That sounds like a sad and kind of angry reason for retiring from the business, but it turns out that for him, being away from the spotlight is massively enjoyable.

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For example, he said in interviews that he would be happy to come out of retirement for Indiana Jones, but when the opportunity arose he declined. When asked why, he said the reasoning was simple: “retirement is just too much fun!”

Meg Ryan

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Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail star Meg Ryan quietly stepped away from the bright lights of Hollywood after she divorced her husband Dennis Quaid in 2001.

However, in 2015 Ryan did return to film making, making her directorial debut with Ithaca, a movie based on the 1943 novel The Human Comedy by William Saroyan.

 

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Credit: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

She also returned to team up with Friends star Lisa Kudrow on their comedy duo series Web Therapy, with the two shooting five episodes together.

That was the end of her second four year hiatus from acting, with the first one being in the early 2000s.

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In August 2018, Ryan was honored with the Leopard Club Award as an icon of romantic comedy, due to the fact that “No one could portray irony, kindness, wit and fragility like Meg Ryan did.”

Freddie Prinze Jr

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Freddie Prinze Jr was a nineties poster boy, especially when it came to horror. Starring in She’s All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer, it seemed he was on the path to becoming a Hollywood mainstay.

He even participated in more family friendly projects, playing Fred in the 2002 and 2004 live-action Scooby Doo movies, but then he changed priorities entirely.

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It turns out, he had wanted to go to culinary school all throughout his teenage years, but put the dream on the backburner for acting.

He eventually got tired of the relentless schedules, and began taking voice acting jobs which he could balance with writing cookbooks, which he now does full time.

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He has also been married to his Scooby-Doo costar Sarah Michelle Geller for almost 20 years, and spends a lot of time with his children.

Michael Schoeffling

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Michael Schoeffling is another teen heartthrob that you might know, especially if you grew up in the eighties.

The star of Sixteen Candles and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken – Schoeffling was the king of teen romances and comedies, but he dropped off the radar before the nineties even started.

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After appearing in Mermaids, a family drama starring Cher and Winona Ryder as a mother and daughter duo, Schoeffling announced his retirement from both acting and modelling.

In a number of surprisingly candid interviews, he admitted that the lack of roles he was being offered was the main reason why, as well as a growing family that he had to feed.

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Instead of acting, he founded his own woodworking business and made an honest living selling hand-crafted furniture.

Jonathan Taylor-Thomas

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Jonathan Taylor Thomas is another child star with a promising future, who ultimately decided that the fast-paced nature of the industry was not for him.

He began in a 1990s spin-off of The Brady Bunch called The Bradys, playing the character of Greg Brady’s son Kevin.

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During that time, he was immediately offered other roles both on the silver screen and the small screen, the longest running of which was Home Improvement.

Thomas stayed with the Home Improvements cast for almost a decade, but then announced his retirement to focus on academics,

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Since then, he has appeared in some shows with cameos, but has mostly decided to keep to himself.

Lark Voorhies

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Lark Voorhies is one of the most recognisable faces of the eighties, thanks to her starring in Saved By The Bell as a young teenager.

Her role in the show as Lisa Turtle rocketed her from relative obscurity to a household name, and she went on to have pretty consistent work throughout the nineties.

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However, after reprising her role on The Bold And The Beautiful in 2004, she seemed to decide to move on to bigger and better things.

She moved into writing specifically, releasing three books throughout the early 2000s.

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She also cultivated a love of painting, creating works and attending art shows as her main side hustle.

Geena Davis

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Credit: Josh Hallett via Wikimedia Commons

Many of the actors on this list found themselves leaving Hollywood out of necessity, but Geena Davis’ step away from the spotlight was motivated by entirely different things.

Davis was hugely successful in the quirky and unique roles she chose, from starring in Thelma and Louise and A League Of Their Own to appearing in Beetlejuice.

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Credit: Alan Light via Wikimedia Commons

With that said, she found herself being offered less and less interesting roles as she aged into her fourties, and decided the best thing to do was to create an institute to combat the issue.

Her institute was created to highlight and showcase interesting roles for women in television and film, and it allowed her to revitilise her own career, as well as that of other actresses.

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She had a run of critical acclaim in 2017, but still maintains that the institute is important for reasons way bigger than herself.

Cary grant

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Credit: Image by Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Cary Grant is the embodiment of a Hollywood leading man, having starred in numerous films now considered part of the fabric of cinema.

Considering how prolific he was, it was confusing when he retired completely from the silver screen, until he explained his reasoning.

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Credit: John Irving via Flickr

He made the choice in 1966, and at that point, he was already 62, with children and grandchildren in his life.

He decided he wanted to make them a priority during his twilight years, and was more than happy to give up the spotlight in order to spend more time with them.

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He even said the choice wasn’t a hard one, since the decision was between his actual family, and playing roles that were mostly limited to “bums and grandpas”.

Mara Wilson

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Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

There have been a lot of recognisable child actors over the years, but not many have made the impact that Mara Wilson has.

Starring in Miracle on 34th Street, Mrs Doubtfire and, most famously of all, Matilda – Wilson was the face of family-friendly movies with a wholesome message.

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Credit: @marawilson via Instagram

However, acting was never a long-term adult goal for her, more something she fell into as a child.

Instead, she gravitated towards activism, philanthropy and charity work – as well as publishing a memoir about her time as a child star.

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The memoir made her kind of a social media celebrity, and she’s now almost as famous for her quippy Twitter replies as she is her child acting career.

Jack Gleeson

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Jack Gleeson is best known for his infamous run on HBO’s Game Of Thrones, where he played the singularly hated boy-king Joffrey Baratheon.

The character was killed off when Gleeson was just 21 years old, ending his run of a part he had played ever since he turned 18.

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When his character’s reign on the show was over, Gleeson turned to academia, and finished his degree with a mission to study even further.

However, he soon decided that was not the right path for him, and went on to found his own theatre company.

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Credit: @sophiet via Instagram

He has since moved to Dublin, and starred in several theatre productions at the Edinburgh Fringe, but has no desire to return to the screen any time soon.

Kirk Cameron

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Kirk Cameron began his acting career relatively late for a child star, appearing in a cereal advert at the age of 13.

From there, he progressed relatively quickly, landing a starring role on the sitcom Growing Pains.

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Credit: Cage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

From there he graced the cover of numerous teen magazines, and was mentioned in yearly lists of teen heartthrobs,

He even married his costar on the show, and went on to guest star on other shows with a similar audience, such as Full House.

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When the nineties ended he decided to step away from the spotlight, with his wife’s acting career eventually surpassing his own.

Peter Ostrum

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As an adult, Peter Ostrum might not be at all familiar to an audience, but most people will have watched him when he was much younger.

He only ever starred in one movie, but his performance in it was enough to give him a shot at a lifelong acting career, which it turned out he didn’t actually want.

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Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Ostrum starred in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie alongside Gene Wilder, as the titular Charlie Bucket.

His performance was so beloved that he was offered a three movie contract with the studio, but he declined it after realising the spotlight just wasn’t for him.

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Instead, he went to college and lived a normal life, becoming a veterinarian and eventually appearing occasionally on convention panels about the movie.

Greta Garbo

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Anyone involved in the entertainment business knows that bad reviews are just part of a normal day at the office, but not everyone can cope with them easily.

For Greta Garbo, harsh criticisms were enough to push her into leaving the industry altogether, even though she was only in her early thirties at the time.

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When The Two-Faced Woman crashed at the box office as well as with critics, Garbo decided to wait until the war was over to pursue any other projects.

However, no other projects emerged – and so she retired to a quiet life away from the spotlight.

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The result wasn’t as sad as you might expect, as Garbo was never fully comfortable with the media attention, and much prefered to be alone and with family.

Terrence Howard

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Many of the actors on this list hit their peak of popularity in the 80s and 90s, but struggled to recapture that magic and success in the years that followed.

However, Terrence Howard has been pretty consistently successful, but still decided that ducking out of the entertainment industry was the best choice for him.

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In September this year, the star of the critically-acclaimed Empire announced that when the show was over, he too would be quitting acting for good.

The announcement came as a shock to many of his fans, who couldn’t understand what would motivate him to make that kind of choice.

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As for an explanation, all he said was that he was done with pretending, and wanted to “bring truth to the world” instead.

When asked if he meant he would switch to charity work, he answered no, and told fans to expect him bringing truth in other ways.