To quote Marilyn Monroe: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”
Hollywood is strange. While it’s the land of glitz and glamour, it’s also home to some of the shadiest people on the planet. Heck, just look at the amount of creeps named and shamed in 2017 as a recent example.
Proving money isn’t the most important thing in the world, a lot of A-list actors have turned their back on the industry for a variety of reasons. Some of them have been rather vocal and public about their decisions, while others rode off into the sunset without so much as a goodbye to their fans.
Much like in wrestling and rock music, though, no “retirement” is ever 100% guaranteed. Nonetheless, we’ve uncovered a host of celebrities who stepped away from the spotlight for some interesting reasons. A handful of them did so nobly, while others weren’t quite so gracious and undoubtedly needed a clean break from this sordid industry.
With that said, here are 15 A-List Actors Who Completely Disappeared For Shocking Reasons.
15. Jack Nicholson
As a living legend, Jack Nicholson can do as he pleases. He owes no one any explanation or apology for deciding to step away from the limelight. Still, we’d all like to know why he just upped and left the industry.
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, 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.”
14. Cameron Diaz
Considering the amount of films that Cameron Diaz has been in over the past 20 years, it feels like she never really left the industry. However, Diaz hasn’t starred in a new film since 2014’s Annie and her last high-profile news story was her marriage to Good Charlotte‘s Benji Madden in 2015.
During a panel at the In Goop Health event last year, Diaz explained her absence from Hollywood. “I just went, ‘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.”
13. Sean Connery
Despite the contrary, Sean Connery didn’t retire from acting because of how much he hated The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Instead, it had been some timing coming.
According to his friend and fellow actor Michael Caine, Connery told him he’d never make a film again after 2003. Caine added that the movie business retired his friend because he didn’t want to play small parts about old men and they weren’t offering him young parts as a romantic lead.
Naturally, the last bit is Caine’s dry, tongue-in-cheek humor, but he does touch upon some truth there. After decades of being a leading man, Connery was relegated to mostly smaller roles, which couldn’t have been an easy pill to swallow. So, he decided to bow out with his dignity still intact.
12. Gene Hackman
As a legendary hard man and the best on-screen Lex Luthor to date, it’s a little bleak not to see Gene Hackman still acting up a storm in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, he left the business quietly and without much pomp and circumstance.
Speaking to Reuters, Hackman admitted he misses acting but not the other side of it. “I miss the actual acting part of it, as it’s what I did for almost 60 years, and I really loved that. But the business for me is very stressful. The compromises that you have to make in films are just part of the beast, and it had gotten to a point where I just didn’t feel like I wanted to do it anymore.”
11. Amanda Bynes
We all remember how Amanda Bynes’ Twitter account became epic and a must-follow a few years back. In the midst of all the drama and controversy, she announced she was retiring from acting. Later on, though, she walked back her comments and said it was more of an indefinite hiatus.
Bynes said she’d been acting since she was seven years old and needed a break from it. However, her break was put to good use as she studied fashion design at Irvine’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.
In June last year, however, Bynes mentioned she’d be keen on returning to acting, but only for TV roles. It’ll be interesting to see how this decision pans out for the former child star. Will her heart still be in it?
10. 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 and no one knew what the actress was suffering with 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.
9. Freddie Prinze Jr.
In the late ’90s and early ’00s, you couldn’t escape Freddie Prinze Jr. If there was a movie aimed at teenagers, you could’ve bet your last dollar that Prinze would’ve appeared it in.
Towards the end of the ’00s, though, Prinze pretty much disappeared from Hollywood, choosing to get a job with the WWE as a member of its creative staff and then as a producer and director.
Prinze stated that he finds Hollywood too weird and told ABC News it was his experience doing 24 that made him quit the business initially. “It was terrible. I hated every moment of it. Kiefer [Sutherland] was the most unprofessional dude in the world. That’s not me talking trash. I’d say it to his face. I think everybody that’s worked with him has said that. And I just wanted to quit the business after that. So, I just sort of stopped.”
8. Jack Gleeson
Game of Throne‘s Joffrey Baratheon was one of the vilest, repulsive, and most-hated characters in television history. Never have we seen an audience cheer for a child’s death like we did with his.
In real life, though, Irish actor Jack Gleeson is nothing like his character. After achieving international superstardom as Joffrey, he quit the business saying he didn’t enjoy it as much as he used to. Instead, he decided to enroll himself at the Trinity College in Dublin and study philosophy and theology.
Speaking about his decision, Gleeson said that making a living out of something changes your relationship with it. He viewed acting as something fun to do with his friends or in the summer, but the money changed the way that he viewed it.
7. Rip Torn
Apart from having the coolest stage name since Buddy Holly, Rip Torn had a celebrated career, winning numerous awards and delivering timeless performances.
However, things went a little pear-shaped for Torn in 2010. In January of that year, he was arrested for breaking into a Litchfield Bancorp branch while carrying a firearm and being intoxicated. Several charges were laid against him, including first-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief. The police stated that Torn broke into the bank thinking it was his home.
Ultimately, Torn plead guilty to reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and the illegal carrying of a firearm. He received a two-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence and three years probation. Since then, the roles dried up for him and he’s made sporadic appearances in C-grade films.
6. 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 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.
5. Renée Zellweger
After her star-making role in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Renée Zellweger became one of the most sought out actresses in the business. Not long afterwards, she won her first Academy Award for her performance in Cold Mountain.
But in 2010, Zellweger stepped away from it all 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.”
Zellweger added she was happy to be able to interact with people without being seen as a celebrity. “I found anonymity, so I could have exchanges with people on a human level and be seen and heard, not be defined by this image that precedes me when I walk into a room.”
4. Nick Stahl
Starting out as a child actor, Nick Stahl’s career developed steam as he starred as John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Ben Hawkins in the popular TV show Carnivàle.
Sadly, he struggled with substance abuse, which impacted both his professional and personal life. In 2012, his estranged wife filed a police report stating that he’d gone missing. He was found five days later and entered rehabilitation immediately. Later that year Stahl was arrested for lewd conduct in an adult movie store and then a few months later was taken into custody for alleged substance abuse.
Recently, Stahl stated he moved out to Texas and taken a leave of absence from acting to concentrate on his family and sobriety. Hopefully, we’ll see him returning to the industry one day soon, healthier and in a better place than before.
3. Rick Moranis
In the ’80s and early ’90s, Rick Moranis was one of the hottest comedy actors around. Who could ever forget his legendary performances as Lord Dark Helmet in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and Wayne Szalinski in Joe Johnston’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?!
Unfortunately, in 1997, tragedy struck when Moranis’ wife, Ann, passed away after a battle with breast cancer. Realizing that it was too difficult to make movies and raise his two children, Moranis stepped away from the spotlight and focused on being a single dad.
Moranis admitted it was meant to be a short break initially, but that he realized he didn’t miss the industry at all. Since then he has taken on the occasional voice role and TV appearance, but he still remains largely out of the spotlight.
2. Randy Quaid
Randy Quaid carved out a niche for himself in Hollywood. While his brother, Dennis, was seen as the heartthrob, Randy took on character roles that garnered him numerous accolades.
In 2009, though, his problems began when he and his wife were arrested for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper by using an invalid credit card. They were released on bail but failed to appear in court and warrants for their arrest were issued. Eventually appearing in court, the charges against Quaid were dropped due to a lack of evidence, while his wife pleaded no contest and was placed on probation.
The following year, Quaid and his wife were charged with burglary after they spent five days occupying the guest house in a home they once owned. Warrants for their arrest were issued but they failed to appear in court. Later, the Quaids moved to Canada, but were arrested for the outstanding warrants.
1. 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. She significantly decreased her workload, choosing to focus on her family and health after having been diagnosed with 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. To make matters worse, her husband, Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with cancer in this time, which was another personal blow for the family to deal with.
Zeta-Jones has been outspoken about her bipolar disorder and even said that it has resulted in her losing work in Hollywood. However, she maintains it’s important to remove the stigma of the illness and will continue to discuss it.
Do you know any other A-list actors who disappeared for weird reasons? Let us know in the comments section!
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