Do you ever think about some of your favorite movies and wonder, what ever happened to that actor? Sometimes it’s just a part of the business – an actor stars in one iconic role, then they’re never heard from again. Or, they stay in the entertainment business and just keep relatively quiet.
There are plenty of actors who choose to leave Hollywood to lead normal lives, but sometimes things aren’t that simple. In many cases, actors have chosen for personal reasons to quit acting all together, and sometimes they are pushed out by forces beyond their control.
The celebrity life isn’t for everyone, and the lime-light can even drive you insane. The following actors have been M.I.A. for quite a while, and their reasons for abandoning Hollywood may be stranger than you think.
Here are 15 Actors Who Quit Hollywood For Shocking Reasons.
15. Amanda Bynes
If you ever go on the internet or watch TV, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about Amanda Bynes’ public meltdown. From stealing jewelry to tweeting at Drake, Bynes was shocking the world every day with her crazy antics. The most bizarre part is that she didn’t even try to hide it, outright telling fans that she didn’t love acting anymore. It was revealed that drugs were behind much of her behavior, and thankfully since she’s gotten help.
It may seem like recent history, but it’s now been 5 years since Bynes’ problems began, and almost 8 years since we last saw her in a movie – Easy A. Bynes has been occupying her time at fashion school, and even expressed interest in coming back to acting. No projects are confirmed yet, so we’ll see if Bynes can successfully make a comeback or if she’ll remain another lost child star.
14. Sean Connery
Besides James Bond, Sean Connery has played many notable roles – but what may be more notable are the roles he refused. Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was clearly a mistake, and he also turned down a role in The Matrix, another trilogy opportunity slipping through his grasp.
So, there could be an argument made that when The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came his way, Connery put caution to the wind and decided to finally try his hand at a big-budget action flick poised to be a franchise. After passing up two gems, sadly, he picked wrong, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a huge flop.
13. Taylor Momsen
There’s likely one of two ways you know Taylor Momsen – as the adorable resident of Whoville, Cindy Lou Who, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or from her later role as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl. With a solid filmography to back her, there’s likely no role Momsen couldn’t have gotten herself – that is, if she wanted to keep acting.
Turns out that Momsen’s true love is music, and since Gossip Girl she’s left the acting life to focus on her real passion – her hard rock band The Pretty Reckless. It’s never been a secret that Momsen has a beautiful voice, but who knew she would ditch Hollywood stardom to sing about sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Momsen admitted to Elle, “hopefully I’ll be able to only do [music] for the rest of my life.”
12. Jack Gleeson
It came as a surprise to many when Jack Gleeson simply told fans that he would no longer be acting. After scoring as huge a role as King Joffrey Baratheon on the hit show Game of Thrones, Gleeson found that acting just wasn’t for him.
He told the Irish Independent, “the lifestyle that comes along with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate towards.” At the mere age of 25, Gleeson seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and while he had no negative experiences to mention, he gravitates towards a simpler life.
When it comes to acting, he says, “it was always a recreation beforehand,” and when it became more than that, he realized he had to walk away. He may be done with Hollywood for good, but he sure did leave his mark in a massive way.
11. Cameron Diaz
It’s pretty common for celebrities to take a break from the limelight, but after 3 years without being in a film and no future projects to be spoken of – it’s unsure if Cameron Diaz will return to Hollywood anytime soon, if ever.
She told E! News during a panel discussion, “I just went, ‘I can’t really say who I am to myself,’ which is a hard thing to face up to.” She also pointed out that she didn’t get married until 41, a decision that had a lot to do with her career and finding the exact right person for her.
Diaz has been in the business in a big way since 1994 when her breakout role in The Mask got her worldwide fame. Exactly 20 years later she starred in her most recent film, Annie. Here’s hoping Diaz figures out who she is and gets back into the game!
10. Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall is known by most as Jack Torrance’s nervous, screaming, and crying wife Wendy in The Shining. It’s a role that has become known for how difficult it was on the actress – Duvall recounts crying for 12 hours a day, five or six days a week, for months on end.
Besides her problems with Stanley Kubrick, Duvall continued her career working in plenty of films. It wasn’t until recently that the world was made aware of Duvall’s personal problems that caused her to quit acting, through TV psychologist Dr. Phil. On his show she admits to needing help, and also says she believes Robin Williams is still alive.
Kubrick’s daughter Vivian called for a boycott of the show, saying Dr. Phil was using the actress for entertainment in her mentally ill state. It’s not certain whether or not Duvall has recovered, but it’s likely she’s out of the public eye for good.
9. Stephen Collins
As the recent Harvey Weinstein case has unraveled Hollywood and exposed abuse, it’s clear that someone’s past can easily ruin their present career. Stephen Collins, beloved father and reverend from the show 7th Heaven, is another example of this – but his condemnation by the public happened back in 2014.
TMZ obtained a recording of Collins confessing, in what was supposed to be a closed therapy session, that he had molested underage girls in the past. His wife at the time, Faye Grant, recorded these sessions without Collins or the therapist’s knowledge. Ultimately this lead to Collins coming forward and admitting his guilt, saying he had a problem, but that he hadn’t had these urges in 20 years.
8. Rick Moranis
Unfortunately the reason Rick Moranis left Hollywood at the height of his fame was anything but voluntary. When his wife died of cancer in 1991, Moranis took an acting hiatus, and by 1997 he was completely done making movies to focus on being a full time parent to his two children.
Moranis cited being a single parent as his main reason for leaving the spotlight in his prime, he told The Hollywood Reporter, “I took a break, which turned into a longer break”- 18 years, to be exact. He’s been doing some writing and voice work since, but has yet to return to movies. He didn’t fully neglect the idea of coming back to acting, adding “as soon as [a role] comes along that piques my interest, I’ll do it.”
7. Daniel Day-Lewis
For being the only person to ever win three Best Actor Oscars, Daniel Day-Lewis’s abrupt announcement that he was quitting acting for good came as a shock to some – but not to all.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time that Day-Lewis has “retired” from the lime light. In London’s National Theatre in 1989, while on stage performing Hamlet, Day-Lewis announced his departure, and left the performance, never to return to the stage again. In the 1990s he moved to Ireland for more time off, being incredibly secretive and personal. Most people accepted this as normal Day-Lewis behavior too.
Supposedly, though, this most recent announcement of leaving the industry is not simply “time off,” it’s final. His last appearance will be in the movie Phantom Thread, which comes out December 25, 2017.
6. Michael Richards
Sometimes before you can quit the business, the business quits you. In a sort of involuntary quitting situation, Michael Richards was forced to eat his words after using racial slurs towards audience members at a stand-up gig in 2006.
Most know Richards from his Seinfeld role as everyone’s favorite crazy neighbor, Kramer, but his legacy has now been tainted by his racist rant. He admitted that he regrets his outburst, and the negative response to his stand-up was a “reality check” for him, and that he will likely not be pursuing stand-up comedy because it isn’t his strong suit.
He may have missed the point – while stand-up clearly isn’t his strong suit, it’s definitely not what people were mad about. It will be interesting to see if any producers want to attach their names to him anytime soon.
5. Randy Quaid
In his prime, Randy Quaid was in some of the most iconic movies to date – Independence Day and National Lampoon’s Vacation to name a couple. While Randy’s brother Dennis Quaid has stayed in the spotlight for most of his career, we haven’t seen Randy on the big screen since 2009. So what happened?
In a strange chain of events, Quaid and his wife went on a Bonnie-and-Clyde sort of downward spiral. Initially arrested for defrauding a hotel, the couple were released on bail, but continued to fail to appear at scheduled court dates. After a few more legal battles in and out of court, the two moved to Canada, where they were again arrested for outstanding warrants in the U.S.
The strangest part? Supposedly Quaid claimed they were running from the Hollywood “Star Wackers,” who he says are responsible for many celebrity deaths. He’s stayed out of the spotlight ever since, and whether or not studios will want to work with him after this crazy episode has yet to be seen.
4. Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo, in her prime, was literally everywhere in Hollywood. As we’ve seen, sometimes one film can turn a star off of Hollywood for good – and this was exactly the case with Greta Garbo.
After starring in the 1941 film Two-Faced Woman, Garbo left acting for good. The film got such horrible reviews that she called it her “grave” and declined all offers to appear on screen again – and yes, there were plenty of offers. Even the best actors have their bad movies, so why couldn’t Greta Garbo get over hers? Hollywood was ready to accept her again, but Garbo could not find it in herself to come back after such a failure.
Her fame may have been short-lived, but with 28 films and 3 Academy Award nominations under her belt by the age of 35, it seems to have been worth it.
3. Joe Pesci
When Joe Pesci decided to announce that he was quitting acting, it came as a surprise to many fans who had gotten used to him and Robert DeNiro as an unstoppable big screen pair. There’s no arguing that Pesci is a hugely talented actor who’s been in iconic films, so why the decision to leave it all?
Though he’s mostly known for acting, Pesci was actually a lounge singer before becoming big in Hollywood. He decided to leave the movie scene and focus on coming out with his album, titled Vincent Laguardia Gambini Sings Just For You. The album played on his My Cousin Vinny character’s persona.
Pesci has been out of the spotlight since, but that all may change soon, as he is set to appear in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming 2019 film The Irishman.
2. Frances Farmer
There’s nothing quite like the story of Frances Farmer’s abrupt Hollywood exit. There have been books, films, and plenty of speculation surrounding what exactly happened to this former star.
The first sign of trouble happened when Farmer was arrested for driving with her headlights on in a war-time blackout zone. Police said she was erratic and they jailed her overnight. Over the next few years she was in and out of courtrooms and mental institutions, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She tried and failed to make a comeback in the ’50s, and died in 1970.
With the help of a friend, Farmer wrote a book about her life right before she died. The book chronicled multiple abuses that Farmer allegedly endured at the hands of police and doctors. Some claim she may have even been lobotomized – although unlikely, it has become part of her story. We may never know the full truth, but there’s no denying Farmer’s career downfall was a strange chain of events.
1. Ray Sharkey
Ray Sharkey’s entire downfall in Hollywood is one big cautionary tale. After finding success in The Idolmaker and Wise Guys, Sharkey was diagnosed as HIV positive. Most attributed this to his heroine use, and after being fired from The Hal Squad for drug possession, his personal life was suddenly a public sensation.
Though denying he was infected, multiple lovers of Sharkey’s claimed he infected them with HIV. In 1992, Sharkey’s former lover Elena Monica sued him for $52 million, claiming Sharkey knowingly contracted her with HIV. Sharkey’s manager claims he had sex with almost 100 women after he already knew he was HIV positive.
Sharkey continuously denied these claims, until the disease was just too obvious to deny any longer. He claimed that he had a strain of HIV that would not turn into AIDS, but he ultimately died of AIDS complications in 1993.
Do you know of any other actors who left Hollywood for shocking reasons? Let us know in the comments!
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