15 Stars Who Turned Their Backs On Hollywood

6Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci in Home Alone

Joe Pesci became one of the actors of the 1990s thanks to his Oscar-winning performance in Goodfellas, as well as acclaimed turns in My Cousin Vinnie and Home Alone. He began his career working as a musician in New York and his native New Jersey. After taking a part in a low-budget crime film, he attracted the attention of young Martin Scorsese, who loved Pesci’s natural screen presence. Scorsese then cast him in Raging Bull in 1981, for which Pesci earned his first Oscar nomination.

His career took off from there, as Pesci enjoyed a string of hits that included Once Upon a Time in America, Lethal Weapon and its subsequent sequels, JFK, and Casino. By the late 1990s, however, Pesci became dissatisfied with the roles coming his way, and opted to return to music. He officially retired from acting in 1999, though has since made brief returns for his friend Robert De Niro in his film The Good Shepherd and in the indie film Love Ranch, earning positive reviews for both. His brief returns from retirement have suggested Pesci may yet get the bug to return to acting full time. If so, that would be a win for both the actor and his audience.

5Rick Moranis

Ellen Greene and Rick Moranis in Little Shop of Horrors

Funnyman Rick Moranis got his start on SCTV, sort of Canada’s answer to Saturday Night Live. His work on the sketch comedy show— including several dead-on impersonations— earned him wide acclaim, and Hollywood came calling in 1983. Moranis and SCTV co-star Dave Thomas reprised their acclaimed characters Bob & Doug the Canadian brothers in the big-screen comedy Strange Brew, which maintains a cult following to this day. The movie proved Moranis had charisma, and he followed up with lauded turns in Spaceballs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Little Shop of Horrors (in which he also sang.) Moranis also gave a memorable and iconic performance in Ghostbusters which he also reprised in the 1989 sequel.

As the ‘90s dawned, Moranis drifted into family fare, appearing in The Flintstones as Barney as a series of Honey I Shrunk the Kids sequels. After his wife’s death from breast cancer in 1997, Moranis retired to raise his children, and has since shied away from publicity. He gave a memorable vocal performance in Disney’s Brother Bear opposite Dave Thomas, with the two performers reprising (more or less) their roles as Bob & Doug. Moranis has since maintained that he would return to film, should the right part come along.

4Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson in Matilda

Wilson became one of the most recognizable moppet actors in the 1990s thanks to her wide eyes and plucky charm. She first enchanted audiences with her work in Mrs. Doubtfire opposite Robin Williams and Sally Field. She followed up with the hit remake of Miracle on 34th Street opposite Sir Richard Attenborough, taking over the role of Susan from Natalie Wood. Her work then attracted the attention of director Danny DeVito, who cast her in the title role in his film of Matilda. Around the same time, Wilson’s mother died of cancer, which had a traumatic effect on young Mara. She quickly began to lose interest in acting.

Despite offers for various films, Wilson retired from film in 2000, preferring instead to focus on studies and stage roles. She’s also spoken frankly about her struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, which began to affect her in her teens. Despite a brief return in front of the camera with a cameo appearance in Broad City in 2016, Wilson has no plans to return to films anytime soon. She lives a low-profile life in New York today.

3Michael Schoeffling

Michaell Schoeffling in Sixteen Candles

‘80s hunk Michael Schoeffling began his career in an unlikely way. While studying Liberal Arts in college, he attracted the attention of photographer Bruce Webber, who helped him begin a modeling career. Schoeffling landed photo spreads in magazines like GQ, which helped raise his profile. He also began to study acting around the same time. Hollywood found Schoeffling in 1984 when director John Hughes cast him as the “hunky boy” Jake in the comedy Sixteen Candles opposite Molly Ringwald, which helped him gain name recognition.

Schoeffling followed up with roles in films like Longtime Companion, Mermaids, and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken before calling it a career. Schoeffling lost interesting in acting by the time the ‘90s rolled around, and retired in 1992. Today he lives an anonymous life as a husband and father, making handcrafted furniture. The enduring appeal of Sixteen Candles, however, occasionally prompts Schoeffling to pop up on “where are they now” type programs, and sporadic interviews.

2Sean Connery

Zardoz- Sean Connery

Scottish star Sean Connery will forever hold iconic status as the James Bond, though his career spans a much greater range than spy thrillers. He began his career in the British theater, making friends like Shelly Winters and Michael Caine, who encouraged him to focus on acting. Stage roles followed, and in 1959, Disney brought Connery to Hollywood in Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Not long after, he nabbed the role of Bond, which he repeated seven times over the course of his career.

Besides his work as Bond, Connery worked with his share of great directors— including Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg— over the course of his long career. After making several lackluster films throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s, he made something of a comeback, winning an Oscar for his role in The Untouchables in 1987. Connery remained a major star throughout the ‘90s with hits like The Rock and The Hunt for Red October before retiring in 2003, citing dissatisfaction with the business. Despite repeated attempts to lure Connery back before the camera, the actor enjoys his retirement too much. Still robust at age 86, however, Connery may yet have one final role left. We hope so anyway!

1Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn’s slim figure and shining eyes made her one of the most distinct and delicate women to ever grace the screen. She began her work as a dancer on stage in Amsterdam and London, before attracting the attention of the French writer Collette, who cast her in the lead role of his Broadway musical Gigi. The show became a hit, and Hepburn made her Hollywood debut in 1953 in Roman Holiday for director William Wyler. Her work snagged her an Academy Award, and catapulted her to the top of the A-list. Throughout her career, she appeared in classic movies like Sabrina, My Fair Lady, The Children’s Hour, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

By the late 1960s, however, Hepburn began to lose interest in acting. She chose motherhood and her charity work with UNICEF over her career, and retired in 1968. She did, however, make occasional returns to acting in films like Robin & Marian, They All Laughed, and a cameo in Always, her final performance. She died of cancer in 1992, and remains one of the screen’s most iconic actors.


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