The Premium The Premium The Premium

15 Hollywood Stars That Quit Acting

15 Hollywood Stars That Quit Acting

For many of us, being a famous actor is something we can only dream about. Having that level of talent and being successful in an industry that is so exclusive seems like the ultimate fantasy. Not only do they get to get out of the usual 9-5 slug, but they get to live a glamorous life and get paid obscene amounts to do something that they love. It all looks so perfect, doesn’t it?

Believe it or not, acting can quickly lose its appeal if you’re not in the right frame of mind. Some stars have left behind glittering careers to retreat from the limelight completely, opting instead for a simple life away from the prying eyes of the media and the box office hungry Hollywood machine. Sometimes, it’s purely because they can’t handle the intensity and lack of privacy that comes hand in hand with being a megastar. Other times, their personal lives have taken president over their careers.

With Daniel Day Lewis shocking fans by announcing his retirement from acting earlier this month, we thought we’d take a look at stars past that have said goodbye to life in front of the camera.

Get your popcorn ready and join us as we reminisce about 15 Hollywood Stars That Quit Acting.



Bond star and Hollywood legend Sean Connery decided to hang up his acting hat after the release (and box office flop) of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman in 2003. According to his close friend and fellow Scotsman Billy Connolly, Connery was no longer getting offered parts he wanted to play. It’s a shame but the man is 86 years old and has given us a legacy of films that we still enjoy today, such as Dr. No and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. His suave and debonair attitude coupled with his reputation as bad boy ladies man had women swooning the world over – and still does.



His Girl Friday actor and staple of the silver screen, Carey Grant, decided to quit acting to focus on being a father in 1965. He was 62 at the time his daughter Jennifer was born. Grant inspired a host of aspiring stars as one of Hollywood’s first main leading men. He starred in more hits than you can shake a stick at and soon became a housewives’ dream and a household name. Much like Connery, Grant was tired of being offered roles that no longer inspired him, and had trouble accepting the transition into older roles. At the time he said, ‘I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life.’



In 2005 Dave Chappelle stunned fans and colleagues alike when he decided to leave his popular hit, Chappelle’s Show. What was baffling to audiences was that the series had never been more popular. Ratings were still high and Chappelle’s star appeal was still – well, appealing. Chappelle went away to South Africa to reflect, stating, ‘Coming here, I don’t have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down. 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.’ Although Dave did take some time out, he attempted to properly revive his stand-up career in 2013.



The girl with the curly hair was a child star unlike the world had ever seen when she got her big break in Bright Eyes at just five years old. Although Temple achieved international fame and is still referenced today, her career was relatively short for such an iconic actress. The public tired of Temple when she reached adolescence, leading to her retirement from films at age 22. At the age of 30, we were gifted a two-season television series of fairytale adaptations, but that too was short lived. Shirley then quit showbiz altogether at 39 years old, having focused her attentions on a diplomatic career working with the United Nations.



Phoebe Cates was best known for her 80’s and 90’s roles in films such as Drop Dead Fred and the Gremlins franchise. Although Cates had a relatively successful career, she retired from acting in 1994 to focus on raising her children, who she had with actor Kevin Kline (despite the 16-year age gap). After a brief return to the screen as a favour to friend and former co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2001, Phoebe retreated back out of the limelight and opened up a boutique called Blue Tree on New York’s Madison Avenue. The store continues to be a success, selling jewelry, clothing, books and vintage LP’s among other things.



While our Moms were swooning over lovable goofball Tim Allen in Home Improvement, we were having our first crushes on the adorable Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Although Taylor went on to star in a few films such as Tom and Huck after his stint on the family show, things never really got off the ground, and he eventually retired from acting in 2005 to further his education at Harvard University. Thomas has dipped in and out of the industry since, but his last role was in television series Last Man Standing, where he had a run of just 4 episodes. Where are you Jonathan? The world needs your chiseled cheekbones.



Swedish actress and icon of the silver screen, Greta Garbo, retired from acting when she was just 36. It might be surprising for you to learn given her huge popularity and reputation, that by 1938 Garbo was one of the unfortunate group of actors dubbed ‘Box Office Poison’ and the roles began to slow. It had a brief resurgence with the success of Ninotchka in 1939, but by 1941 Garbo couldn’t take the ups and downs anymore and stepped away from acting for good. From that point onward the blonde starlet lead a solitary life, never marrying, never having children, and surrounding herself with art. She died at the age of 84, leaving $57 million dollars to her niece, Gray Reisfield.



There was a time when John Hughes was heavily involved in the film industry, acting, directing, writing and producing. In 1994 something changed, and Hughes decided to leave the stage behind. Withdrawing from the public eye completely, Hughes took himself back to Chicago to live life under the radar. He cited the sudden death of actor John Candy earlier that year from a heart attack as his motivation. According to actor Vince Vaughn, ‘He talked a lot about how much he loved Candy—if Candy had lived longer, I think John would have made more films as a director.’ In a strange twist of fate, Hughes also died from a heart attack in 2009 at age 59.



One of the most popular teen heartthrobs of the 90’s and 00’s, Freddie Prinze Jr. called it quits one day in 2003, simply stating that, ‘It’s just too weird.’ Happily married to Scooby-Doo co-star and Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Sarah Michelle Gellar, Prinze turned his talents toward cooking instead. Freddie didn’t remain entirely true to his word though and has dabbled in the world of television since, also lending his voice to animated characters. However, it’s clear that he is far happier when he’s in the kitchen, catering to his wife, family, friends and two children. We’ll let you off.



There are fewer comedic actors better loved than Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors star Rick Moranis. The actor was best known for playing oddball characters who really couldn’t catch a break. Unfortunately, this extended into Moranis’ personal life when his wife sadly passed of breast cancer in 1991. Some time later he explained his absence, ‘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.’ Moranis was offered a cameo in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot but declined, stating that he wasn’t retired from acting completely but wished to be very selective about any future roles.



Gene Hackman had a glittering career that spanned five decades, winning numerous awards and securing his spot as a living legend. The movie credits to Hackman’s name are endless, with hits such as Behind Enemy Lines and Mississippi Burning under his belt, to name but a couple. Always reluctant to give interviews, it came as a shock when Hackman told Larry King in 2004 that he believed his career in film to be over. In 2008 while promoting his third book, he confirmed his retirement from acting. These days, Hackman is presumably enjoying his retirement with second wife Betsy Arakawa in their Santa Fe residence.



It’s not unusual for an actor to cross over from acting to music, and this is exactly what star of The Grinch and Gossip Girl, Taylor Momsen, did in 2011 at the tender age of 18. In a surprise change of direction that shocked most fans, Taylor left behind her fledgling screen career, started shovelling on the eyeliner and now tours with her band, The Pretty Reckless. Momsen is notorious for her barely there outfits, which usually consists of slip dresses and lingerie. It’s a far cry from Manhattan’s Upper East Side – but is this a case of rebellion from a young woman who was acting from such a young age, or will she return to our screens one day?



Mara Wilson was one of the most popular child stars on the planet in the 90’s, staring in a plethora of successful films including Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street. Given her success and talent, it was a shock to many when she traded in her lucrative screen career for a quieter life, taking a twelve-year hiatus. When she did return to acting, it was to guest star in one episode of a web series. These days, Wilson is more involved with writing and the New York comedy and storytelling scene, favouring stage performance over being in front of the camera.



Often compared to fellow blonde beauty Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day was a sensation in the 50’s and 60’s, setting Hollywood alight with her effervescent smile and vibrant attitude. She starred in films such as The Pajama Game and The Man Who Knew Too Much, before going on to front her own TV series, The Doris Day Show, which lasted an impressive five years. After the show ended, Doris Day bowed out and retreated to live a peaceful life out of the limelight on her estate in Carmel, California. In 2017, she told People, ‘It wasn’t the city I knew anymore. If I had stayed, I might be playing a grandmother – who knows! But I love living in a small town. I have my pets around me, and I like to answer my fan mail.’



If you’re a fan of the uber-popular fantasy series Game of Thrones, then Gleeson will be a name you are familiar with. The young star played one of the most hated people on the series, Prince Joffrey, before his character was killed off. It was undeniable that Gleeson was an incredible actor, so many fans were disappointed when he decided that acting full time wasn’t for him. ‘I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to,’ he said. ‘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.’ We hope he changes his mind in the future.


  • Ad Free Browsing
  • Over 10,000 Videos!
  • All in 1 Access
  • Join For Free!
Go Premium!