Actors Who Reached the Top in Hollywood and Disappeared From Public Eye

While most people dream of one day being famous and living in Hollywood, these actors and actresses decided it wasn't for them. Fans might be surprised to see which famous stars opted to leave Hollywood. Many end up ditching their careers at their peak and searching out a different career path. It seems the celebrity lifestyle does not hold the appeal people might think! Here is a list of stars who walked away from Hollywood.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


CARLY SCHROEDER

Fans of the popular show "Lizzie McGuire" fondly remember Carly Schroeder. However, the actress eventually traded her fame for fatigue saying she decided to enlist after working with veterans and advocating for human trafficking victims. She was more fulfilled doing work where she could feel her efforts truly making a difference.

"I've been considering it for a while and it is a big choice, but thankfully my parents and my little brother were very supportive of me," Schroeder, 28, told TMZ. "My dad was actually in the Army, he was a Green Beret medic, and my little brother Hunter, he's in the Marines now."

Carly Schroeder arrives at The Nobelity Project's "One Peace At A Time" screening  | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Carly Schroeder arrives at The Nobelity Project's "One Peace At A Time" screening | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine


JACK GLEESON

Gleeson played one of the most maniacal and cruel characters, King Joffrey Baratheon, on the HBO's hit TV series “Game of Thrones.” The series proved his impeccable acting talent, but unlike many of his fellow actors, he did not use the show as a springboard to land other acting jobs. Instead, the young star decided to do something else.

He opted to retire from show business. Gleeson opted to focus on his studies as he is a graduate from Trinity College in Dublin with a double major in theology and philosophy. He has also co-founded the Collapsing Horse theater company and works on stage in London. What a big change in career and life direction it was for this former actor.

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images


GRETA GARBO

Greta Garbo is one of Hollywood's most iconic and recognizable stars from the 1930s. However, she abruptly ended her career when her last movie, Two-Faced Woman, was poorly received. In her short spanned career, she was nominated thrice for the Academy Awards as the best actress. What a great achievement, she truly was a star!

For her immaculate acting, she was honored with the Academy Honourary Award in 1954. Many thought Garbo took a temporary hiatus from the spotlight, but the star reverted to her reclusive tendencies and retired from acting after 16 years and 27 movies. She was just 36-years-old when she retired. One of the quotes she is famous for is: "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be let alone!' There is all the difference."

Swedish-born American film actress Greta Garbo, shortly after she arrived in Hollywood | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Swedish-born American film actress Greta Garbo, shortly after she arrived in Hollywood | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine


ANGUS T. JONES

Remember the chubby and cute kid from Two and a Half Men? He was played by Angus T. Jones, who was only 9-years-old when he rose to fame. The show was a massive success but monopolized most of Jones’ childhood. After he and his character graduated high school, Jones began to feel conflicted between some things in his life.

Essentially it was his ever-growing Christian faith and the lewd humor in the show that was too disparate and contradicting. He felt that he couldn't portray profanity and other immoral ways on the screen when he believed and lived the opposite in real life. Jones left the show after season 10 and started studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images


BETTIE PAGE

Often called the original pinup girl, actress Bettie Page gained huge recognition after a series of photoshoots in which she was scantily clad. She caught the attention of Playboy featured as the January centerfold in 1955. However, before her passing in 2008, Page had practically vanished from the public eye.

She briefly resurfaced: “I have no idea why I’m the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work,” she said in an interview with The Times in 2006.

Image source: Youtube/Biographics

Image source: Youtube/Biographics


RICK MORANIS

Moranis rose to fame with breakout comedy roles like Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and The Flinstones. However, in the early '90s, he snuck away from the public eye and became a voice actor and focused on raising his children. The move was out of necessity as the actor became a single parent after his wife died of cancer.

"I pulled out of making movies in about '96 or '97. I'm a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing 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," he said.

Rick Moranis attends "In & Of Itself" Opening Night - Arrivals at Daryl Roth Theatre | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Rick Moranis attends "In & Of Itself" Opening Night - Arrivals at Daryl Roth Theatre | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine


JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Jonathan Taylor Thomas became known as a teenage heartthrob in the 1990s. From voicing young Simba in The Lion King to his hit performance in Tom and Huck, and his role in the massively successful sitcom Home Improvement, he had the makings of a star. However, Thomas left the business to focus on academics. 

“To sit in a big library amongst books and students, that was pretty cool. It was a great period in my life, but it doesn’t define me. When I think back on the time, I look at it with a wink. I focus on the good moments I had, not that I was on a lot of magazine covers.”

Headshot of Jonathan Taylor Thomas | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Headshot of Jonathan Taylor Thomas | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine


PENELOPE SPHEERIS

Penelope Spheeris was launched to fame with her shocking 1981 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, followed by the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World. However, she decided to leave Hollywood in 2012. She felt that the entire set up of Hollywood was too fake for her and she had enough of it. Her words were:

“[Hollywood] changed into something that I didn’t want to be a part of,” the 73-year-old filmmaker said. “I really didn’t want to be a part of mainstream Hollywood anymore. It was too — it’s ugly. You have no friends in Hollywood. Hollywood is a lonely, lonely desert, especially as a woman.”

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images


JUSTIN BIEBER

Justin Bieber told his fans via Instagram that he was taking a break from his music career on the 25th of March, 2019. His reasons were that he wants to invest his time in "repairing some of the deep-rooted issues," explaining that he wants to have more time to be a father and husband that he wishes to be. This is commendable for the youngster.

He also clarified that it was a transient break and that he's coming back bigger and better. Bieber's last album was 'Purpose,' which was produced in 2015, although he has been featured in other songs as a guest artist. He married his wife, Hailey Baldwin, in November 2018 and the pair have been primarily working on their relationship and faith.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


CAMERON DIAZ

Surprisingly, it was one of Diaz's The Sweetest Thing costars who announced the blonde's retirement. Selma Blair told Metro in 2018 that Cameron Diaz was not going to continue her acting career. Diaz's last blockbuster movie was Annie, in 2014.

Afterward, she wanted to devote her time to her husband, Benji Madden, a former member of the band Good Charlotte: "I just went, 'I can't really say who I am to myself.' Which is a hard thing to face up to," she shared. "I felt the need to make myself whole," Diaz said.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


KEVIN JONAS

Kevin Jonas, who was one of the boys of the Jonas Brothers band, was quite famous as a singer. The group split up in 2013, and Jonas put his energy and time into making apps. He made an app he named Yood, which allows you to find nearby restaurants that serve a specific type of food. It also includes the restaurant's Yelp rating and a contact number.

During their ten-year run, from 2003-2013, Jonas only sang in one song: "I left my heart in Scandinavia." He was also the first of the brothers to leave fame behind when the band split up: while Nick and Joe continued to make music separately, while Kevin Jonas focused on starting a family with wife, Danielle. How cute!

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


FREDDY PRINZE JR.

Freddy Prinze Jr. quit his acting career to start a lucrative business doing what he loves - cooking! He's not entirely out of the movie scene, as he still does voice-overs. In 2016, Prinze debuted a cookbook titled, Back To The Kitchen, in which he described how he used to cook with his mother. Even more, he was supposed to attend culinary school.

This was before he became a big shot Hollywood star. Freddy appeared in movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, and She's All That. Now, he's back to doing what he wanted for himself. It just goes to show that oftentimes life will take you on a detour but you'll always end up doing what you were meant to do. 

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


GENE HACKMAN

When you hear movies like HoosiersThe Firm, Enemy Of The State, and Unforgiven, you can't remember them without thinking of Gene Hackman. However, the 87-year-old actor resigned from Hollywood after blessing our screens with the epic movie, Welcome To Mooseport. Presently, he is a writer of historical fiction novels.

From 2004 to 2008, Hackman worked with Daniel Lenihan to write four books: Justice for None, Wake of the Perdido Star, Escape from Andersonville, and Vermillion. Additionally, he solely wrote Payback at Morning Peak and Pursuit. This is quite the achievement and shows that his true talent was always in the creative arts.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


DAVE CHAPPELLE

Dave Chappelle stunned both fans and Hollywood when he left his super successful Chappelle's Show in 2006 and took a trip to South Africa to regroup. The comedian said retirement gave him the opportunity to get to know his children and experience and engage with the world.

He recently began his comeback with two comedy specials on Netflix: "I'm interested in the kind of person I've got to become. I want to be well rounded, and the industry is a place of extremes. I want to be well balanced."

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


JEFF COHEN

We all remember Jeff Cohen from his character as a former child actor, Chunk in The Goonies, a wildly popular movie that was released in 1985. The last time he acted was in the 1991 TV movie, Perfect Harmony. Cohen used to get side summer jobs on the movie scene through commendations from The Goonies producer.

Richard Donner was the man in charge. He decided to stop acting for a completely different career in entertainment law. After he earned his degree as a lawyer, he established Cohen Gardner Law and wrote his book, The Dealmaker's Ten Commandments. He preferred life in the corporate sphere and never settled in the acting world.

Image Credits: YouTube/The Morning Show

Image Credits: YouTube/The Morning Show


JONATHAN BENNETT

Jonathan took a quick break from his acting career to pay attention to his passion, fitness. Bennett was widely known for the parts he played in Mean Girls and Cheaper by the Dozen 2. According to ABC, he used to teach spin classes at FlyWheel Studio in Los Angeles. Bennett paired with dancer Allison Holker and competed on  Dancing with the stars.

He was eliminated in week six on the show, consequently, finishing in ninth place. After his brief hiatus, he resumed his career in the entertainment industry. He is now hosting a TV show, Cake Wars on Food Network, and, previously, the MTV karaoke show Copycat. Recently, he came out publicly as gay, disclosing his relationship with Jaymes Vaughan.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


PETER OSTRUM

Peter Ostrum starred in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as Charlie Buckett. It was the only movie in which he ever appeared. Peter rarely wanted to discuss the film, but his stance would later change as he started talking about his film to kids while on tour. After the movie, he discovered he had a deep love for horses.

He studied veterinary science and attended school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2005, the movie was remade, with a slightly different title, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and Ostrum became the subject of interest again. He is presently a veterinarian at Countryside Veterinary Clinic situated in Lowville, New York. 

Image Credits: YouTube/OWN

Image Credits: YouTube/OWN


LARK VOORHIES

The TV series, Saved By The Bell, produced many stars, including Lark Voorhies. She portrayed Lisa Turtle, which made her a well known and loved actress. Since 2010 Lark Voorhies has been writing novels, painting and making music. However, none of her paintings are for sale! Lark had been looking increasingly unwell and has been battling Lupus.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images


SIR SEAN CONNERY

The Oscar-winning actor finally had enough of making movies after an extremely stressful production for 2003's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Connery subsequently dusted himself off and walked away from Hollywood. Later he received a call from Spielberg, who tried to get Connery out of retirement.

This was of course for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But a PR statement was released, saying the actor was having too much fun in retirement and wished the production the best. However, he provided the voice of Sir Billi for the 2012 animated comedy of the same name. He still loves his time off!

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


SHIRLEY TEMPLE

When 20th Century Fox decided not to renew Shirley Temple's contract in 1940, the Temples took it in stride. At 12 years old, the tween began attending a school in Los Angeles and started living a relatively normal life. Though her career had been on the back-burner for nearly a decade, Temple decided to officially retire from acting in 1950 at the age of 22.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Temple was tired of being selected for the same types of roles over and over. Interestingly, the role she played in one of her first films was quite different. When she was three-years-old, Temple got her first speaking role in a film titled War Babies. She portrayed an exotic dancer for soldiers who were also played by children.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


AMANDA BYNES

After skyrocketing to fame, Amanda Bynes was one of the most famous child actors in the United States. But fame isn't for everyone. Bynes said in an interview with Paper that she began experimenting with marijuana at 16, which led to other drugs, like ecstasy, molly, and cocaine. She also began abusing Adderall.

This sent her career into danger. She faked symptoms of ADD in order to get prescriptions and noted she could hardly focus when she was filming Hall Pass. Bynes announced her retirement on Twitter, and with help from her parents, she has now been sober for five years. We hope only the best for this former actress and celeb star.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


DORIS DAY

Singer and actress Doris Day was THE box office name for romantic comedies in the 1950s and 1960s. Day starred in a string of instant classics, like Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk, that capitalized on her comic timing and sweetheart appeal. After more than two decades in front of the camera, Day seemingly retired following The Doris Day Show.

She left Los Angeles, moving to a 10-acre estate in Carmel, California, and devoted herself to rescuing animals and championing animal-rights activism. She largely stayed out of sight for the rest of her life, focusing on animals and going by the nickname “Clara” among her friends.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


JACK NICHOLSON

As a living legend, Jack Nicholson can do whatever he likes. While his reasons for leaving the limelight remain unknown, fans are curious as to why he left the screen and chose a quieter lifestyle. The answer is simple: because he felt like it. Speaking to The Sun, Nicholson said, "I'm not going to work until the day I die."

He continued in saying, "that's not why I started this. I mean, I'm not driven. I was driven – but I'm not, I don’t have to be out there anymore. In fact, there's part of me that never really liked being out there." It was reported that Nicholson is set to come out of retirement to star in the American remake of the Oscar-nominated German film Toni Erdmann.

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images


RENEE ZELLWEGER

The actress famous for her part in Bridget Jones's Diary, Renée Zellweger became one of the most sought out actresses in the business. Not long afterward, she won her first Academy Award for her performance in Cold Mountain. But in 2010, Zellweger left the starry life for six years.

Chatting to Vogue UK, she explained her decision: "I was fatigued and wasn't taking the time I needed to recover between projects, and it caught up with me. I got sick of the sound of my own voice: it was time to go away and grow up a bit."

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images


CATHERINE ZETA-JONES

After exploding onto the Hollywood scene and the pages of gossip magazines, Catherine Zeta-Jones hit the brakes on her career after appearing in 2007's No Reservations. Why did the beautiful actress significantly decrease her workload? She wanted to give all her time to her family as well as fighting her bipolar II disorder.

Over the years, Zeta-Jones took on smaller roles and strayed away from the limelight as she struggled with her bipolar disorder and depression. Another factor to her retracting to her family was her husband's diagnosis of cancer. This was another personal blow for the family to deal with. Zeta-Jones has been outspoken about her bipolar disorder.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


MIKE MYERS

There was a time when it seemed like former Saturday Night Live alum Mike Myers was the master of the comedy world. After the blockbuster success of the Wayne's World movies and Austin Powers franchise, there was no way Myers' Hollywood star could shine any brighter. And then he became Shrek! Myers was unstoppable! But then reality hit...

In 2008, The Love Guru hit theaters, and it was a huge misstep. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of only 13 percent, it was the first sign that Myers was no longer a  hit at the box office. Outside of a brief cameo in Inglourious Basterds and 2010's Shrek Forever, Myers has seemingly vanished from Hollywood. Was it all because of that bad movie? 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


In a 2014 interview with GQ, Myers talked about his escape to New York. What really happened is this: Myers remarried and welcomed two children with his second wife. Since he's been working on small passion projects that he's in no rush to complete. He said he had five very specific movie ideas that he was kicking around, but he's taking easy.

MEG RYAN

She became the "queen of romantic comedies" with such hits as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail and also starred in the drama City of Angels back when Nicolas Cage was still lighting up the movie screens. But in 2000, Ryan became the focus of intense tabloid scrutiny when reports began surfacing.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Image Credit: Wikipedia


These reports suggested that she was having an affair with her Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe, who was taking Hollywood by storm after his breakout role in Gladiator. While Ryan continued to work sporadically in Hollywood, her roles were never the same after the affair, and she waited eight years to address the scandal in 2008.

Ryan said the affair definitely happened, and even though it affected her public image, she described it as freeing. But audiences and critics just weren't feeling it. Since then, Ryan has ditched Hollywood for New York, where she's focused on her children and navigating the pitfalls of love with rocker John Mellencamp.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


JOE PESCI

Many 90s babies will certainly know Joe Pesci from his role as one of the main villains in the holiday classic Home Alone. But if you're also a fan of great cinema, then you know that Pesci was a veritable acting force who collaborated with legendary director Martin Scorsese on such classic films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino.

Pesci also proved himself as a strong leading man with his command performance in My Cousin Vinny. He had a great career that made many actors envious. But Pesci couldn't have cared less about the trappings of fame, and in 1999, he walked away. According to Complex, the reasons for Pesci's early retirement are murky.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


While it initially seemed like he decided to pursue a career in music, a look back at Pesci's interviews over the years show a man who wasn't entirely feeling Hollywood and seemed doubtful about his successful film career. But the actor seems hesitant to relive his glory days. In fact, he's probably the only person who has no problem telling off Martin Scorsese.

GENE HACKMAN

His massive career goes back to the '60s, Gene Hackman has starred in at least 79 movies, and those films include such classics as Bonnie and Clyde, The French Connection, Hoosiers, Unforgiven, Crimson Tide, and a slew of others that have stood the test of time. We also can't forget Hackman's iconic role as Lex Luthor matching wits with Christopher Reeve's Superman?

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


In 2001, Hackman gave one of his most beloved performances in The Royal Tenenbaums, despite the fact that he was reluctant to do the film, particularly after learning that director Wes Anderson wrote the part specifically for him. So it came as a complete surprise when Hackman starred in the 2004 lackluster comedy.

The film's name was Welcome to Mooseport and he chose that to be his final film. While Hackman never officially announced his retirement, he confirmed he was done with acting in a 2008 interview with Reuters. However, this fan-favorite is not finished with the creative world yet, and the former actor is doing a formidable job trying to "hack" it as a writer.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


SHELLEY DUVALL

For many years, Shelley Duvall delivered extraordinary performance after another as she established herself as one of the best actresses of her time. Even thinking of her harrowing role as Wendy Torrance in The Shining is enough to send shivers down your spine. In 2002, Duvall disappeared out of the public eye.

No one knew what the actress was suffering in her private life. Then in 2016, Duvall resurfaced on Dr. Phil where she revealed she'd been struggling with mental illness. In her interview, it's clear that she is unwell as she discusses her fear of the Sheriff of Nottingham and claims the late Robin Williams is alive and shapeshifting.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Image Credit: Wikipedia


GEENA DAVIS

There was a period in the mid-'00s when Geena Davis disappeared from our TV and cinema screens. After having established herself in productions such as Thelma & Louise and Beetlejuice, it was odd to see her fall off the radar. It turns out that her disappearance was for a good cause. While watching television with her daughter. 

Davis noticed an imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. Deciding to explore this further, she sponsored the largest research project on gender in children's entertainment. As expected, the study showed that there were nearly three males to every female character. So, Davis teamed up with Dads and Daughters to launch a program.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


The program was dedicated to balancing male and female characters in children's television. Then in 2007, she launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that aims to increase the presence of female characters in media and reduce stereotypes.

We always thought that Hollywood life was an addictive one you couldn't leave, but these people prove us wrong as they successfully ditched Hollywood for other things. Which one of them was your favorite? Tell us in the comments section.

Source: Cheatsheet, Ranker Screen Rant Nicki Swift

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