Ever wonder why you haven’t seen some of your favorite A-listers in Tinseltown for a while? During the peak of their careers, these actors and actresses raked in the big bucks. So, what are they up to now?
Whether it was a quick hiatus to start up a side business, or a permanent vacation from the pressure, there’s a good reason why these well-known celebs have taken a break from the spotlight.
Jessica Alba had quite a run in the 2000s, cultivating her fanbase early with cult favorite Dark Angel, and becoming one of the faces of the Fantastic Four franchise. So, what happened? It seems that Alba realized her talent was often snubbed since people were almost entirely focused on her beauty.
In 2017, she made it clear that she wouldn’t return to film unless she had control over the project. She told Good Housekeeping, “If I could develop a film or a series for Netflix, that would be cool. I still have my Dark Angel fans, and Hollywood is finally allowing women to star more in action franchises, which is a passion of mine.”
Alba is also the CEO of The Honest Company, and a mother, which we bet keeps her occupied.
Dave Chapelle is a household name in comedy, who has seen significant success with his famed Chappelle’s Show and film career. It was shocking when Chapelle walked away from everything in 2005, and fans are still wondering just why he did it. Chapelle hinted that there was a fallout between him and Comedy Central when it came to creatives for his show.
“It’s like, ‘Well, that’s 10 minutes long. It should be five minutes long.’ ‘Why should it be five minutes long?’ I fought very hard. So when I watch Key & Peele and I see they’re doing a format that I created, and at the end of the show, it says, ‘Created by Key & Peele,’ that hurts my feelings.”
Chapelle recently released two Netflix specials where he speaks on his struggles and personal vendetta against the Hollywood machine.
Mara Wilson had a very long acting career ahead of her after starring in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire. Audiences and critics alike were waiting in suspense to see what the talented young star would do next, but what she did surprised everyone…
In 2016, Wilson told PEOPLE Magazine that the body-obsessed environment was too much for her to handle, and she just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. She admitted that when she hit puberty, she wasn’t getting offered any roles. When she was finally called in for a role, the name of the role was for “fat girl.”
Wilson decided to immerse herself in her studies and began writing in high school and college while doing theater. She has said that since graduating college, she’s never been better, saying, “Things have gotten a lot better since I left Hollywood – a great weight lifted.”
Heeeereeeeee’s Johnny! Yes, the famous Jack Nicholson has had quite a successful career, and he is a legend in cinema history. The brilliant actor confirmed in 2017 that he was retiring, and we haven’t really heard from him since.
He’s often considered one of the best talents in Hollywood, appearing in some of the most celebrated films of all time. With a record 12 Oscar nominations and three wins on his mantle, Nicholson has had enough success to cover his career two times over.
There were some reports that his decision to retire was due to memory loss, but these have yet to be confirmed.
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Although it’s not confirmed why Prinze left Hollywood, many believe it was to pursue family life. Freddie Prinze Jr. was famous for nailing the “jock” archetype during the late ’90s and ‘00s and was given the title “young Hollywood’s leading man” by Teen People (a publication that no longer exists by the way).
Although many people assume he walked away from Hollywood entirely with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, he didn’t actually stop working altogether. He took on many different side projects: writing for WWE, voicing video game characters for Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, and recently releasing a cookbook, Back to the Kitchen.
Muniz was a household name in the ’90s and ‘00s, starring in Malcolm in the Middle, My Dog Skip, Big Fat Liar, and Agent Cody Banks. When Malcolm in the Middle ended, Muniz decided to retire from the spotlight to become a professional race car driver. He quickly signed a deal with Jensen Motorsport and competed in championships.
Unfortunately, he suffered injuries to his back, hands, and wrists from a crash in 2009, which limited his abilities. In 2012, Muniz suffered from a mini-stroke at the age of 26, and a year later, experienced a second one.
Muniz has since taken a step back from the track to take care of his health.
Even though Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio are best pals, they’ve seen very different career paths. Before becoming every 2000s kid’s Spider-Man, he appeared in The Ice Storm, Deconstructing Harry, and Pleasantville. Although Maguire’s film Spider-Man 3, was heavily mocked by critics, there were hopes that he would appear in the fourth installment.
However, Sony chose to reboot the franchise with Andrew Garfield, leaving Maguire in the dust. His last role was narrating the children’s film, The Boss Baby, in 2017.
Although Maguire has taken a break from acting, he has gotten heavily involved in producing with a number of films.
Karyn Parsons played the materialistic Hilary Banks on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air but, believe it or not, she was nothing like her character in real life.
Parsons admitted that while she was filming Fresh Prince, she refused to quit her job as a hostess that she had before getting the role
NPR reports that she recalls the cast members from the show, including Will Smith, would come by her restaurant and tease her from outside the windows. Parsons decided to dedicate herself to motherhood alongside her husband, director Alexandre Rockwell. Parsons has also been working on a project called Sweet Blackberry, which features animated films about little-known black heroes.
Meg Ryan, dubbed America’s Sweetheart and romantic comedy staple, became an A-lister after starring in films like Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail. However, when Ryan tried to branch out from romantic comedies, there was an immediate backlash.
When she acted in In the Cut, audiences were astounded to see America’s Sweetheart shed her clothes and show some skin. Her career came to a screeching stop when it was discovered that she was having an affair with Russell Crowe.
The media immediately claimed the affair was the reason she divorced husband of 10 years, Dennis Quaid. Ryan stepped back to find a new career path. In 2015, she made her directorial debut with the film Ithica.
Brendan Fraser saw quite a bit of success throughout the 1990s and 2000s with The Mummy trilogy, George of the Jungle, Bedazzled, and Crash. All of the sudden, he disappeared from the spotlight, leaving both fans and the media puzzled.
It was soon discovered that there were quite a few reasons why Fraser left it all behind.
He found himself in and out of the hospital for spine-related surgeries, a knee replacement, and repairs on his vocal cords. To add to this, Fraser told GQ:
“I changed houses, I went through a divorce. Some kids were born. I mean they were born, but they’re growing up. I was going through things that mold and shape you in ways that you’re not ready for until you go through them.”
Still, Fraser overcame these obstacles and recently moved into television with the series, Trust.
Geena Davis, known for A League of their Own and for being half of the anti-hero duo Thelma & Louise, has seemingly disappeared in recent years. A force on and off the screen, Davis has dedicated her time to women in the film industry.
In 2006, she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to promote gender balance in media and the entertainment industry. She told The Guardian, “Having been in some roles that really resonated with women, I became hyper-aware of how women are represented in Hollywood.”
In 2015, Davis launched an annual film festival located in Bentonville, Ark., which shows films produced, directed, and starring minorities and women.
Tara Reid has had quite a rocky relationship with fame, so we don’t really blame her for getting out of the spotlight for a bit. In the ’90s, Reid was the “it” girl thrown into the teen movie scene. After American Pie, Reid was typecast as the sensationalized high school blonde bombshell before her career took a turn for the worse.
Reid was nominated for several Razzies, including Worst Supporting Actress in 2004… and again in 2006, even winning a Stinker Award for Worst Actress.
After a rough stretch in the limelight for the wrong reasons, Reid made a comeback in 2013, embracing the bad acting role as April Wexler in the ridiculous made-for-television movie, Sharknado, reprising the role in five sequels!
Kim Basinger’s performance as Bond girl Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again made her a sex symbol throughout the ’80s. With Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman (1989) launching her career into the ‘90s, the blonde bombshell seemed destined for greatness.
Unfortunately, Basinger suffered from agoraphobia, a fear of public places, leading to regular panic attacks. One episode in her 20s left her unable to leave her home for six months.
“When I came to Hollywood, I could wear a bikini, but I was in misery, because people were looking at me. So I wore baggy clothes and watched other girls get the big parts and awards… this led to my agoraphobia.”
Basinger blames the disease for making the decision to remain out of the spotlight.
Amanda Bynes was the quirky child star turned teen whose career fell apart while the whole world watched. Her last film in the industry was supposed to be Hall Pass, but she quit the movie after realizing she was in the midst of a losing battle with amphetamines.
She told Paper Magazine:
“When I was doing Hall Pass, I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me (more) high (that way). I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines or memorize them for that matter.”
After quitting, she announced on Twitter that she was retiring from acting.
These days, Bynes is the proud holder of an associate degree in Merchandise Product Development from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
The original Bond decided to announce his retirement from acting in 2006, while he received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Rumors in 2007 that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones sent fans into a frenzy, but he quickly shut them down, saying that “retirement is just too much-damned fun.”
Connery’s last film acting was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003, though he lent his voice to the 2012 animated film, Sir Billi, which he also executive produced. Connery is photographed so rarely in public that he’s been captured all of once in 2017, coming out of a barber’s shop in NYC.
Estevez was destined for on-screen greatness with family members like Martin and Charlie Sheen. Estevez was known for being part of the “Brat Pack,” which consisted of a group of A-list actors who were regularly in hits during the ’80s and early ’90s.
Estevez made his directorial debut in the 1986 film, Wisdom, winning him the title of the youngest person to direct and star in a movie at only 16. After starring as Coach Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks franchise, Estevez vanished for a few years.
After divorcing Paula Abdul, he found some work voice acting in cartoon films, but was rarely seen out.
Today, he continues to work behind the lens and rarely makes appearances in front of the camera.
Turn the clock back to the ‘00s, when Cameron Diaz was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Diaz was at the top of her game, she was the “it” girl that audiences obsessed over.
Seeing as Diaz has been in the biz for over 20 years, it seems natural for her to want to take a break from the scene.
Ever since meeting her husband, Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden, the two have escaped the spotlight. Diaz gushed, “Somehow my husband has just been able to kind of show me what it’s like not to have that be part of a relationship and being equal.”
Annie (2014) was the last film Diaz appeared in, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be back on-screen anytime soon.
When Katherine Heigl left the beloved medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, she went on to try her hand in film. After appearing in Knocked Up, Heigl made some remarks about the film that weren’t exactly positive.
She explained to Vanity Fair, “It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a b**** it was hard for me to love the movie.”
Heigl was also known for burning bridges in Hollywood, irking Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes after by criticizing her character’s last season. Heigl essentially closed the heavy doors of Hollywood on herself. Oops.
Phoebe Cates was a brunette bombshell in the ’80s, captivating audiences with her beauty. One of the most famous shots of Cates is the sequence in Fast Times at Ridgemont High where she seductively comes out of the pool in slow motion to “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars in a barely-there, red bikini.
She appeared in a few ’80s and ’90s films, married a Hollywood actor (Kevin Kline), then vanished. Cates has basically managed to stay out of the spotlight, using her time to tend to other ventures like the boutique she opened called Blue Tree on Madison Avenue in New York.
She has hilariously admitted that people come into the shop and tell her that she “looks like that actress from the ’80s,” to which she replies, “I get that a lot.”
Daniel Day-Lewis’s talent is undeniable, which is why it was quite a shock when he announced his impending retirement after appearing in Phantom Thread (2017). Day-Lewis has quite a resume with six Academy Award nominations under his belt and being the only man to win three Oscars for Best Actor.
Day-Lewis is a method actor, often applauded for his extreme commitment to characters.
This isn’t the first time Day-Lewis has taken a breather from the spotlight. Before appearing in Gangs of New York, he took a three-year hiatus to spend time in Italy, working as a shoe-maker.
Although he may decide to return to acting someday, it doesn’t look like it’ll be anytime soon.
In the ’90s, Myers was one of the most familiar faces in the comedy genre. The former SNL member was the talent behind Wayne’s World and Austin Powers franchise. Younger fans still recognize him as the voice behind their favorite green ogre, Shrek.
Myers’ decline began in the early 2000s after box office flops like The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru. In 2013, he tried his hand at directing before publishing his wildly successful book, Canada.
Myers recently took a small role as Ray Foster in Bohemian Rhapsody, transforming his appearance so drastically, fans barely recognized him. So, while we haven’t really seen him in the spotlight in recent years, it looks like he’s enjoying this little detour in his career.
Portia De Rossi
Portia De Rossi has had quite a successful career on long-running shows like Arrested Development and Scandal. De Rossi decided to say goodbye to the world of acting right before her 45th birthday.
She explained on wife Ellen Degeneres’ talk show, “I kind of knew what acting would look like for me for the next 10, 20 years, so I decided to quit and start a business.”
Arrested Development fans may be saying, “Wait a minute, we just saw her on Season 5 of Arrested Development.” Well, De Rossi explained, saying, “I called Mitch Hurwitz, who’s the creator of Arrested Development and I said, ‘If there is a Season 5, I won’t be doing it, because I quit acting. And he seemed really understanding, and he totally got it. We had a great conversation, and then he wrote me into five episodes. Don’t know how it happened, but yes, I am on season five.”
Over his career, Robert Redford has earned two Oscars, six Golden Globes, and one BAFTA, among many other nominations. He was the guy that women dreamt about through the late ’70s. With such a lustrous career, it makes sense that Redford decided to retire.
After 60 years in the biz, Redford decided to retire from acting in 2018, with his final film being The Old Man & the Gun. He told Entertainment Weekly, “Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21. I thought, ‘Well, that’s enough.’ And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?”
You may recognize Jack Gleeson as the loathed King Joffrey in Game of Thrones, but when you’ve been acting since you were 7, it may be time to take early retirement. After King Joffrey was killed in the show, he decided to retire entirely from entertainment.
“I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to. And now there’s the prospect of doing it for a living, whereas up until now it was always something I did for recreation with my friends, or in the summer for some fun. I enjoyed it. When you make a living from something, it changes your relationship with it. It’s not like I hate it, it’s just not what I want to do.”
You can’t really argue with that.
When one looks at Macaulay Culkin, one is filled with a sense of nostalgia. For many, he will always be Kevin McCallister from the Home Alone films. After Culkin made Richie Rich, it would be nine years before he appeared in the acting world again in 2003.
Culkin has been living in between Paris and New York for the last few years, because, as he put it, “I was going [to Paris] for a little while, and I thought people didn’t recognize me. But it was, ‘No, we recognize you — we just don’t care.’ I was like, ‘Where have you been my whole life?”
Culkin admits to spending most of his time writing, painting, sleeping, drinking, creating abstract art, and working on a comedy podcast and website, Bunny Ears.
Renée Zellweger experienced immediate fame upon appearing in Jerry Maguire, going on to be the queen of romcoms when she embodied Bridget Jones.
However, after appearing in 2010’s My Own Love Song, she disappeared from the screen for six years. She didn’t really explain her hiatus, but she did travel to Thailand and Cambodia and spent time volunteering in Africa with women’s groups.
Years later, she explained to E! News that she suffered from “impostor syndrome,” describing her mindset was always “This is the time you’re going to be figured out, this is the time you’re going to get fired for sure.” She told PEOPLE Magazine, “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.”
Recently, she appeared in the Netflix original, What If, and if her IMDb page is true, she will be making an appearance later this year with the film Judy, where she will play the coveted role of Judy Garland.
Alec Baldwin is a very hot and cold kinda guy when it comes to flirting with the idea of retirement. In 2009, he announced that he was leaving the entertainment industry after he wrapping up 30 Rock, explaining, “I don’t have any interest in acting anymore. Movies are part of my past. It’s been 30 years. I’m not young, but I have time to do something else.”
Nevertheless, he moved right back into film (without a break), appearing in Blue Jasmine, Still Alice, Concussion, and Boss Baby. Recently, Baldwin appeared on Saturday Night Live, impersonating Donald Trump, which received rave reviews.
David Schwimmer, A.K.A Ross Gellar from Friends, has admitted that there’s a good reason he didn’t do much after Friends.
He dabbled in directing, made some television appearances, lent his voice to Madagascar, and he had a role in The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, but we haven’t heard of any significant projects in a while.
In short, fame really messed with his head. He admitted:
“As an actor, the way I was trained, my job was to observe life and to observe other people, so I used to walk around with my head up, really engaged and watching people. The effect of celebrity was the absolute opposite: It made me want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen. And I realized after a while that I was no longer watching people; I was trying to hide.”
Denise Richards, known for her stunning looks and marriage to bad boy Charlie Sheen, hasn’t been seen in recent years, and the reason why is straightforward. Besides not seeing much success with her TV movies and straight-to-DVD films, she’s really just busy being a mom.
In addition to caring for her three daughters, (two with Charlie Sheen), Richards also cares for their half-siblings, Bob and Max, who Sheen shares with Brooke Mueller. Although Richards used to be known as a sex symbol, these days, she’s taken quite a PG turn, keeping her Instagram clean and family-friendly.
Cary Grant is an old Hollywood legend, appearing in films like Notorious, Bringin Up Baby, and An Affair to Remember before retiring in 1966. He left such a legacy that, in 1999, the American Film Institute named him the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema.
In 1975, Grant was appointed director of MGM. in 1980, he sat on the board of MGM Films and MGM Grand Hotels, following the division of the parent company.
So, with such an extraordinary career, why did he decide to switch it up? Grant decided to take an executive position for the cosmetics company, Faberge. With little explanation, he said, “I have no plans to do any movies, TV or anything else. I work for a good, clean, competitive company and I like it.”
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