Sadly, one of the big truths of life is that we’ve all got to work. It would be lovely to kick back and enjoy the leisures of life, but it is true what our parents told us as we begged for money: “Cash doesn’t grow on trees.” Well, not really. And so, regular-old boring jobs must be found and we must do the daily 9 to 5.
Granted, there are some jobs that are simply better than others, like say, being a movie or TV star! That’s a job we’d take up in a heartbeat. But, as we’ve now learned, some of the most famous actors in the world have had this coveted position and then gave it up (or actually, just lost it). After the glam of the catered, primped and primed Hollywood lifestyle, they went back to being regular schmoes, taking every job from shoemaker to chef, lawyer to fashion designer and even, yes, your own biology professor. We know you’re now looking at members of the general public, wondering if that mailman or barista was once in your favorite movie. One could be walking by you right now.
And so, here are 19 Actors Who Retired And Found Regular Jobs.
19. Daniel Day-Lewis: Shoe Maker
Arguably one of the greatest actors of our generation, Daniel Day-Lewis has always been very selective in what job he takes. Turns out, that doesn’t just apply to films. After doing just a handful of movies in the ’90s, Day-Lewis moved to Florence, Italy, to make shoes. Yes, shoes. He studied under Stefano Bemer, a master cobbler who passed away in 2012. Day-Lewis wouldn’t act again until Martin Scorcese came calling for Gangs of New York. This past June, Day-Lewis retired from acting fully, with a statement from his spokeswoman saying, “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years.” We’ll just have to see what occupation he takes on next.
18. Freddie Prinze Jr: WWE Producer And Chef
You couldn’t turn on a TV, read a magazine or basically turn around in the ’90s without seeing the gleaming white teeth of Freddie Prinze Jr. The man was everywhere and made some of the best (or at least most memorable) films of the decade. It turns out, though, that while you were watching him, he was watching wrestling and he had dreams of things other than acting. In 2008, he was hired to write for World Wrestling Entertainment for the show and laid the smackdown as a producer and director from 2010 to 2012. Most recently, though, he’s traded the ring for a kitchen, publishing Back to the Kitchen: 75 Delicious, Real Recipes (& True Stories) From a Food-Obsessed Actor last June, which got rave reviews from food critics and the public alike. We would have called it, I Know What You Cooked Last Summer, but what can you do?
17. Amanda Bynes: Fashion Designer
Remember when Amanda Bynes was everyone’s darling? This was, of course, before the shoplifting, the fights in the nightclubs and the insanity on Twitter. But you have to admit, through it all, she’s still dressed like a champion. No surprise then that since she retired from acting in 2012, she’s been taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and working on a career as a fashion designer. In 2007, she released her own nationwide fashion line called Dear, and it included jewelry, turtlenecks, hoodies, button-up shirts and her own jeans lines. She even appeared in all the promotional materials for it. Recently, Bynes has said she’d like to get back into television acting, so we may just see that style back on the screen yet.
16. Frankie Muniz: Racecar Driver
Yes, we know, racecar driver isn’t a regular job, but the idea of Frankie Muniz inside a race car was just too wonderful not to talk about. The Malcolm in the Middle actor was thinking of becoming an owner of a team in 2006, but instead, got behind the wheel. He first took a drive as a celebrity participant in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach and finished third – and first among all the celebrity variants. Eventually, he moved from the Formula BMW USA to the Champ Car Atlantic Series and in 2008 won the Jovy Marcelo award, which commends sportsmanship and is voted on by other drivers. He’s now driving for Jensen Motorsport, Pacific Coast Motorsports and currently Team Stargate Worlds, where you can still see him making laps around the track.
15. Jack Gleeson: Student
Is Game of Thrones really still Game of Thrones without being able to sneer and scream at King Joffrey? Debatable. However, when you go out on top, there’s really nowhere else to go. This is why Gleeson decided to retire from acting at 21 and focus on his studies. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, “I’ve been acting since age 8. I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to.” He began by following a path into Academia, but decided against it about a year later and changed majors. Gleeson is now a student at a student of Trinity College in Dublin, studying philosophy and theology, although he does still do a little bit of puppetry work with the theater company, Collapsing Horse.
14. Kevin Jonas: Contractor
When the Jonas brothers split up in 2013, everyone went their own way, doing everything from solo albums to Broadway. You may even remember oldest brother Kevin had a short reality show, Married to Jonas. But since then, he’s been getting his hands dirty – literally. Instead of taking to the stage, Jonas took up the craft as a contractor. He began Jonas Werner Fine Custom Homes and is now building homes throughout New Jersey. He even made a cameo on The Real Housewives of New Jersey in his newly chosen professor, building a house for former Housewife Kathy Wakile, who still appears on the show from time to time. When asked on the show about once being a singer, he responded: “That was my day job, now I’m doing this.”
13. Gene Hackman: Author
Gene Hackman, where have you gone? The last film the great actor worked on was Welcome to Mooseport with Ray Romano in 2004. He’s never officially retired, but has stated he has no new projects in the pipeline. Since then, he’s taken his talent to print, working with archaeologist Daniel Lenihan to write three historical fiction novels: 1999’s Wake of the Perdido Star, a 19th century adventure aboard a ship, 2004’s Justice for None, a story about murder in the depression era, and 2008’s Escape from Andersonville, which was about a prison escape during The Civil War. He also wrote two solo novels: 2011’s old western Payback at Morning Peak and 2013’s Pursuit, a police-thriller. While we miss him on screen, we’re glad that biting wit is still be recorded somewhere.
12. Lark Voorhies: Writer And Painter
While other members of Saved by the Bell have stayed largely in the public eye – we’re looking at you, Mario Lopez – others have all but disappeared. Voorhies is sadly one of the later. In 2012, an interview with her mother came out saying she had bi-polar disorder, which Voorhies denied on Entertainment Tonight: “I have no worries myself, nor do I exude, exhibit or possess within my living stratus any reason why someone should worry (on) my behalf. It’s completely fictional,” she said. Rarely seen out in public, she’s been instead focusing on her art. Voorhies has written three self-published novels: Reciprocity, Trek of the Cheshire, and A True Light. She has also been working on paintings, although she admitted on VH1’s reality show, Miss U Much, a show that documents where famous stars have gone, that she’s keeping them all to herself. Share the love, Lark!
11. Austin St. John: Emergency Medical Technician
Austin St. John went from saving the world to saving lives. After the show, the former Red Power Ranger and martial artist went into emergency medicine, working as an EMT for 12 years before going to the Middle East in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq as a field medic. In an interview with Central Flordia Future, he said: “I had all these people who were looking up to me and expected so much. I don’t think they understand how they inspired me to try and do something with my life… I felt this is something I could be proud of and this is a way I could save lives for real instead of just playing that on TV.” He’s now home and talking Power Rangers again, touring around the world at conventions. It’s good to know if there’s ever a situation, though, the man could literally make sure you don’t die.
10. Charlie Korsmo: Law Professor
Man, was Charlie Korsmo a cute kid. He stole the show (and our hearts) in films like Hook and Dick Tracy. Now, though, he takes himself a little more seriously. Korsmo earned a degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in 2006. He worked for both the Environmental Protection Agency and for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. Currently, he’s an Assistant Professor of law at Case Western Reserve University and in 2011, President Obama appointed Korsmo to the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. We still think the coolest accolade through is having Peter Pan as your father. That’s hard to beat.
9. Brandon Call: Gas Station Worker
You may remember Call as John Thomas “J.T.” Lambert on Step by Step and he was possibly the best part of the show, although he was a television heartthrob staple even before that. You could find him on shows like Santa Barbara, Baywatch, and Magnum P.I. However, in 1996, while Step by Step was still on the air, Call was driving home from his Burbank studio apartment when he got into a traffic dispute and was shot in both arms while trying to flee the scene. He recovered fully and the show would run for another two years, but when it ended, so did his career. Call retired from acting and now works at his parents San Diego gas station and car wash.
8. Karyn Parsons: Non-Profit Founder
Karyn Parsons, famous for playing Hillary Banks on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, hasn’t acted since 2002’s 13 Moons. Instead, she’s been dedicating herself to changing lives for the better. In 2013, she founded Sweet Blackberry, a nonprofit that teaches kids about lesser-known figures of black history. In an interview with Huffington Post, she said: “When you only hear about a handful of stories, the message is, ‘Every once in a while, a special black person comes along.’ And that’s a dangerous message to send to everyone… It does nothing but harm the idea of black people. I think it’s really important to tell these stories, because there are lessons to be learned — incredible lessons about perseverance and determination and opportunity to do something great.” They just finished kickstarting for the foundations’ latest project, which will share the story of the first Black female pilot, Bessie Coleman.
7. The Olson Twins: Fashion Designers
Did anyone own the VHS market more than the Olson Twins? We think not. Yet, as they grew, so did their interest, and they moved away from Hollywood and into the world of fashion design. They began in Wal-Mart with a clothing line for young girls and a beauty line called Mary-Kate and Ashley: Real Fashion for Real Girls, which we’re still pretty sure every American girl owned at least one piece from either. Since then, The Olsons have launched their own fashion line, The Row, named for Savile Row in London. They’ve also twice been named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Still thinking of them as only child stars? How rude!
6. Brittany Ashton Holmes: Student
“Dear Darla, I hate your stinking guts. You make me vomit.” If you got a letter that started that way, you might quit acting too. The adorable little rascal was only five-years-old when she got the part in the film remake of the classic television show (The Little Rascals) and stole the show. She would then do a handful of roles, but officially retired from acting after a part in 1996’s sci-fi film Inhumanoid. She now is working on a degree in political science and a mom to two kids. As she once wrote on her Myspace before it was deleted: “I was (an) actress when I was little and did this movie called Little Rascals. It’s, like, really embarrassing to watch and I don’t want to act anymore.”
5. Danny Lloyd: Biology Professor
Danny’s not here, Mrs. Torrence. Well, of course he’s not, he’s out teaching! Having only done two roles as a child: the tortured Danny Torrence in The Shining and a young G. Gordon Liddy in the 1982 television film, Will: G. Gordon Liddy, he gave up acting for good. Later, Lloyd became a biology professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Elizabethtown, Kentucky in 2007. Don’t try to take his class for an easy A, though. According to his Rate My Professor reviews, he’s a tough grader, with reviews like: “He was tough but gave great instruction… if you take good notes and study you can pass his class. He did not put up with people who were not serious about the class” and that “he doesn’t put up with slackers at all.” Good to know.
4. Jeff Cohen: Entertainment Lawyer
Jeff Cohen was always entertaining – the man was Chunk in The Goonies after all. Sadly though, according to his profile in The American Bar Association Journal, “Puberty hit and forced Cohen into early retirement.” Cohen decided to take his Hollywood knowledge and put it to use, earning a J.D. degree from the UCLA School of Law in 2000 and going into entertainment law. In 2002, he co-founded the Cohen & Gardner firm in Beverly Hills. He was also named one of Hollywood’s Top 35 Executives 35 and Under by The Hollywood Reporter in 2008. He also has done work for The Huffington Post and CNBC from time to time about business and legal subjects. All that sounds worthy of a Truffle Shuffle to us.
3. Michael Schoeffling: Carpenter
Michael Schoeffling’s Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles was always a dreamboat and it’s hard to imagine he could get any more attractive. We’ve learned, though, that while waiting for roles, he began making furniture. Schoeffling now has a successful furniture business in his home in Wilkes-Barre, Pensylvania. In an interview with the LA Times, he said: “Actors spend most of their time out of work, so I actually spend more time making furniture. The thing about furniture that’s much better than acting is that it’s just me. There’s no director, no script–the concept is me, unless a client wants something. In film work you do the best you can under the given circumstances, but you don’t have control. At least, I don’t.” Well, we’d sit in Jake Ryan’s chair any day.
2. Mike Vitar: Fireman
Mike Vitar was a powerhouse of the teen sports movies in the ’90s. He starred as Benjamin Franklin “Benny The Jet” Rodriguez in The Sandlot and as Luis Mendoza in D2: The Mighty Ducks, showing off charm and acting chops. After retiring from acting in 1997, Vitar worked first as an EMS and then moved into his current careers in 2002 as a firefighter in Los Angeles, which he still does today. Sadly, his days were not all sunshine and baseball. Vitar and two other firemen severely injured a man on Halloween in 2015. He pleaded no contest to the charge of misdemeanor battery and paid a $2,000 fine, attended weekly anger management classes for a year and completed 90 days of community service to make up for the incident.
1. Peter Ostrum: Veterinarian
He may not have inherited the chocolate factory in real life, but Peter Ostrum found real happiness anyway. He received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University College in 1984 and now practices at the Countryside Veterinarian Clinic in Lowville, New York. In an interview with Express, he said: “I was offered a three-picture deal with the studio, but I decided not to pursue acting. Looking back, my pay cheque was paltry, but it was during filming that I really became interested in medicine. So I bought my first horse with my earnings and that started my current career path as a vet.” Ostrum has featured again on screen in 2012, this time on the YouTube reality show Vets on Call, which shows off the daily lives of rural veterinarians. Oh, and he now rocks a mean mustache, which we felt was absolutely worth pointing out.
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