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14 Actors Who Retired From Hollywood And What They're Doing Instead

"The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate towards.” —Jack Gleeson

Not everyone who goes into acting decides to stick with it for the long haul. Some actors dip out and pursue a new career while they're young, and others keep going until they can no longer find roles that interest them. Sometimes, however, a single role plays a huge part in an actor's decision to leave the industry.

ABC / Via

Here are 14 TV and movie roles that made actors straight-up quit Hollywood.

1. Cameron Diaz quit acting after playing Miss Hannigan in Annie (2014) because she "needed to become self-sufficient again."

Miss Hannigan wakes up the kids to clean
Sony Pictures Releasing / Via

She told the Goop Podcast, “I really needed to know that I could take care of myself, that I knew how to be an adult, that I knew how to navigate the world of the complexity of being an adult and having responsibility and putting all the pieces of my life together the way I wanted it to be put together — not the way other people thought it should go.”

Cameron is now a wine entrepreneur and mom.

2. Freddie Prinze Jr. stepped away from acting after playing Cole Ortiz in 24 because "Kiefer [Sutherland] was the most unprofessional dude in the world."

Cole waits by the car
20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

He told ABC News, "That's not me talking trash, I'd say it to his face. I think everyone that's worked with him has said that."

He worked as a director and producer for the WWE for a while, then began doing voice work.

3. Daniel Day-Lewis fully dedicated himself to the role of Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread by apprenticing under the New York City Ballet's head costume designer, but the production itself left him so "overwhelmed by a sense of sadness" that he decided to retire from acting afterward.

Focus Features /Courtesy Everett Collection

He told W Magazine, "I’ve been interested in acting since I was 12 years old, and back then, everything other than the theater — that box of light — was cast in shadow. When I began, it was a question of salvation. Now, I want to explore the world in a different way.”

He now lives a private life.

4. Amanda Bynes pulled out of Hall Pass, then announced her decision to quit acting on Twitter because she "was absolutely convinced [she] needed to stop acting" after watching the trailer while high.

star of "The Amanda Show"
Bryan Bedder / Via Getty

Years later, she told Paper Mag, "It makes me feel so horrible and sick to my stomach and sad. Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I kind of ruined it all through Twitter."

After dropping out of Hall Pass, Amanda worked hard to recover from substance abuse, and she's now pursuing a promising new career in fashion. 

5. Jake Lloyd was relentlessly bullied after he played young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, and his life became such a "living hell" that he destroyed all of his Star Wars merch and retired from acting.

Anakin tells Obi-Wan about the pod he rebuilt
Lucasfilm / Via Disney+

He blamed director George Lucas for failing to "meet the standards of the public" with the film.

He has struggled with mental health issues as an adult. In 2020, his mother released a statement that said, "He has moved closer to his family, and we are all working hard to help him with this. He is still a kind and caring person and we hope to have him back to his fun and entertaining self as soon as possible. Jake will continue to make progress with the love and support you continue to show.” 

6. Nine-year-old Carrie Henn and her family lived in London when she was cast in Aliens, but by the time they all returned to the US, she didn't want to live in Los Angeles and be away from them.

Rebecca waits in the backseat
20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

She pursued a career in education instead of entertainment, and she occasionally signs Aliens DVDs for her students. 

7. After starring as Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Peter Ostrum turned down a three-picture deal because "being in the film industry as a child was hard, and [he] couldn't keep going."

Charlie finds the golden ticket
Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Stepping away from acting, he used the money he made from the movie to buy a horse, then grew up to be a vet.

8. Kay Panabaker lost her love for acting after her final voice role in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva la Fiesta and decided to pursue zoology instead.

actor who played Debbie on "Phil of the Future"
Michael Tran / FilmMagic / Via Getty

The former Disney Channel star went on to work at Walt Disney World as a zookeeper at Animal Kingdom.

9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Sean Connery's last film because he "was fed up of dealing with fucking idiots."

Allan readies his rifle
20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

He told GQ, "For years there has been a widening gap between people who can make films and people who can't. Too many people are afraid to say, 'I don't know.' They get in and out quick and too many don't know what they are doing."

He retired to the Bahamas, then died in 2020. 

10. After Two-Faced Woman flopped at the box office, Greta Garbo decided to retire from acting at 36.

Karin is unimpressed
Courtesy Everett Collection

She was already disappointed in the film when the plot was changed mid-production. In a letter to a friend, she wrote, "Since I would rather go walking in the country than fight for stories, it will have turned out like it has."

Afterward, she lived a private life and invested in art and real estate. She died in 1990.

11. Taylor Momsen quit acting after she left Gossip Girl to focus on music instead.

Em confronts Blaire
The CW / Via

She told Elle that touring is "pretty much all I want to do."

Taylor still makes music with the Pretty Reckless.

12. After Joffrey was killed off on Game of Thrones, Jack Gleeson quit acting because "the lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something [he gravitates] towards.”

King Joffrey at the Purple Wedding
HBO / Via

He went on to study theology and philosophy at Dublin’s Trinity College. He told Rolling Stone, "It’s hard to decide what kind of course life will take."

Six years later, he briefly returned to TV for the BBC series Out of Her Mind. 

13. Gene Hackman quietly retired from Hollywood after Welcome to Mooseport and became an author.

Monroe arrives in Mooseport
20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

He told Empire, "The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually a stress test that I took in New York. The doctor advised me that my heart wasn’t in the kind of shape that I should be putting it under any stress.”

Since retiring, he's published two original novels, and he's cowritten four others.

14. And finally, after A Kiss for Corliss, 22-year-old Shirley Temple retired from acting because she was tired of still being typecast based on her success as a child star.

she plays with a yoyo
Courtesy Everett Collection

She later served as the US ambassador to Ghana, then Czechoslovakia.

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