While many dream of making it big in the world of show business, those who already lived the dream have often decided to call it quits and stay away from the spotlight. Whether it was dissatisfaction with the scripts or a desire to live a normal life, the following are the 15 actors who walked away from fame:
15. Jack Nicholson
The three-time Academy Award winner needs no introduction. With a career that has spanned more than five decades, Jack Nicholson has proved that he is one of Hollywood’s greatest and most bankable stars.
Even when he passed his prime, the actor showed he was still in the game with his performances in The Departed in 2006 and The Bucket List in 2007. However, his 2010 movie How Do You Know was anything but good and serves as his last film to date.
Although he did not officially announce his retirement, the actor stated he was “not driven” to appear onscreen again and was
“not going to work until the day I die.”
Rumors spread that the actor walked away from Hollywood because he could not remember his lines due to memory loss issues but Nicholson denied them and clarified that he does not “need all that anymore.”
14. Phoebe Cates
At the age of 17, the bubbly Phoebe Cates made her acting debut and left quite an impact among the teenage audience. Best known for her movies Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins, it looked like she was here to stay until announcing her retirement at age 31.
The beautiful actress married fellow actor Kevin Kline and settled down to raise their two children. She appeared in 2001 movie The Anniversary Party following her retirement as a favor to her best friend Jennifer Jason Leigh but never revived her acting career.
13. Joe Pesci
For every fan of crime movies, Joe Pesci is a revered name. Best known for his performances in Home Alone, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, it is surprising to know that the Academy Award winning actor originally started his career as a musician.
Once he entered Hollywood, his acting career took off with a bang as he starred in one high profile movie after another. Despite the success, music had always been Pesci’s true calling as he announced his retirement from acting in 1999 to revitalize his music career (which has not taken him anywhere) and to enjoy life by being away from the camera.
12. Macaulay Culkin
Speaking of Home Alone, leading star Macaulay Culkin had it all and threw it away. Starting acting at age 4 and achieving international fame at age 10, Culkin had become the most famous child actor in the world and had the potential to be the next Brad Pitt.
Despite his acting credibility, his movies after Home Alone and its sequel never achieved much positive reviews and when Richie Rich failed commercially and critically, it was the final nail to the coffin.
At age 14, Culkin retired from acting. Though he does a few minor roles every now and then, the retired actor began to focus on his music career with The Pizza Underground a band no one knows about.
11. Mara Wilson
As a child actress, the adorable Mara Wilson stole the hearts of everyone with her breathtaking performances as evident in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire. After starring in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Wilson shocked everyone as she announced her retirement at age 13.
Explaining that acting in movies was “not very fun” and does not allow “much creative freedom”, Wilson never appeared in a movie again. Instead, she pursued a career as a playwright.
10. Jack Gleeson
Still at the top of his game, Gleeson made headlines when he planned to retire from acting and pursue an academic career once his work on the HBO television series concluded.
9. Greta Garbo
After her retirement, Garbo refused to make public appearances avoided publicity at all costs. Furthermore, she lived a private life and neither married nor had children.
8. Gene Hackman
When his 2004 movie Welcome to Mooseport received negative reviews, the actor was done from acting at age 74. No doubt Hackman could still perform flawlessly provided the script is good, the retired actor settled for a career as a novelist.