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60 Famous People Who Quit Hollywood

AUGUST 12, 2015  —  By Jason Lopez


Fortune and fame aren't always all they're cracked up to be and some stars have simply crumbled under the pressure throughout the years. From fans demanding too much to the rigors of shooting a movie or television show (yes, it is actually hard work), and touring to promoting their work, it gets to be a hectic life. Some stars have just decided to walk away from Hollywood in favor of a simpler life while some merely wanted to join the real world again and live outside of the glitz and glamour of La-La Land. A few of these former stars are well known for dropping the mic on the industry, but some of them may just surprise you.

1. Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle


There was endless controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle's abrupt decision to leave his wildly popular sketch comedy project, "Chappelle Show." The witty comedian said that he felt that his audience was completely missing the message of his more cerebral sketches, often dealing with poverty and race relations, and he found that his financial success has lost its luster. Chappelle explained sadly in an interview, "Sometimes I listen to a Jay Z record and it starts making me feel bad about some of the choices I've made. This guy has had more fun on two songs than I've had over the last 10 years." However, after his long hiatus, the Hollywood rumor mill has been suggesting he'll be staging a comeback soon.

2. Cary Grant

Cary Grant


Known for iconic films such as "North by Northwest" and "To Catch a Thief," Cary Grant was the definitive leading man in the days of classic Hollywood. However, in 1965, at the age of 62, he called it quits to focus on enjoying fatherhood when his daughter Jennifer was born. Through the years, he never rekindled any interest in a comeback and was said to have rejected all offers to appear in movies and stage plays. During a 1978 interview, Grant wisely remarked: "I probably have less than 70,000 hours left on this Earth and I'm going to enjoy every one of them."

3. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

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1990s babe Jonathan Taylor Thomas grew up as the middle child amongst Tim 'The Toolman' Taylor's trio of boys on ABC's "Home Improvement" and fell in love and learned about the 'Circle of Life' as the voice of Simba in Disney's "The Lion King." Though the successes of his youth could have lead him to be a Hollywood leading man, education-minded JTT left the biz in 2005 to focus on academia. He's attended Harvard, Columbia, and studied abroad in Scotland. Since then, he's made guest appearances on Tim Allen's new show "Last Man Standing" in 2013, as a courtesy to his former TV dad. He also enjoyed a few gloriously geeky cameos including "Smallville" and "Veronica Mars."

4. Harper Lee

Harper Lee


Ms. Lee is a special case, since she never actually embraced Hollywood life in the first place. The Pulitzer Prize winning author's literary classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been widely read and beloved by readers of all ages, but she's refused interviews since first achieving success in 1960 and is known to simply be more comfortable out of the spotlight. In 2015, after a lifetime of maintaining that she would never publish another novel, 88 year-old Lee's lawyer released a statement confirming the publication of a second novel, "Go Set a Watchman."

5. Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill


Music fans loved Lauryn Hill as a part of The Fugees, and were bananas for her hugely successful solo album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," which remains her only studio album to date. Hill eventually disappeared from the public eye though, suffering the pressures of fame and dissatisfied with the corrupt music industry. Her occassional release of a song or stage appearances have been sporadic and strange, demonstrating erratic behavior, and a reunion with her former group did not last long. In 2013, she served a three-month prison sentence for tax evasion.

6. Dylan and Cole Sprouse

Dylan and Cole Sprouse


Famous twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse, whose first major film appearance was alongside Adam Sandler in "Big Daddy," began attending NYU after wrapping up the huge Disney franchise "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." The Sprouse brothers have steered clear of TV and film work for other passions, but they haven't entirely escaped the public eye. Cole made a splash on the blogging site Tumblr by performing social experiments, and nude private photos of Dylan were leaked to the public via social media. Oops.

7. Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple


Apple-cheeked and dimpled, adorable child star Shirley Temple skyrocketed to fame at the age of three, but her career sadly spiraled into progressive decline as she aged. The actress tried to stage several comebacks, but her attempts were lukewarm successes at best. She was Hollywood's number-one box-office star from 1935 through 1938, but in 1950, Temple announced her retirement and then focused her efforts on political ambitions. As an adult, she entered politics and became a diplomat, serving as United States Ambassador to Ghana and later to Czechoslovakia, and as Chief of Protocol of the United States.

8. Sean Connery

Sean Connery


Sean Connery retired from acting after a long and successful career spanning decades. The Scot's last film was "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and when he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, he confirmed his official retirement from acting. Connery does occasionally do voiceover work but insists he has no plans to fully come out of retirement. In 2007, he denied rumours that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, joking that "retirement is just too much damned fun."

9. Freddie Prinze Jr.

Freddie Prinze Jr.


There isn't a complete understanding of why "I Know What You Did Last Summer" star Freddie Prinze Jr. all but disappeared from the spotlight, though he's admitted that his experiences on the FOX show "24" made him want to leave acting. His famous father, comedian Freddie Prinze, battled with depression and committed suicide in 1976, when his son was just a baby. But perhaps Prinze is just content to live life as a devoted family man and snuggle up with his famous wife, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar? In recent years, Prinze Jr. has gotten involved with the WWE in sports entertainment and is also a sought-after voice over actor.

10. Evangeline Lilly

Evangeline Lilly


Actress Evangeline Lilly has said that she every intention of retiring after the ABC cult hit show "Lost" ended. However, it wasn't long until the beauty returned to Hollywood, appearing in various blockbuster films, including Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" series.

11. John Hughes

John Hughes


In 1994, the quintessential eighties director John Hughes retired from the public eye and moved back to the Chicago area, considerably shaken by friend and actor John Candy's sudden death of a heart attack that same year. "The Breakfast Club" director began to fear how the limelight might take its toll and decided to leave before it could. The director is also said to have feared that Hollywood could corrupt his sons. Hughes' last film was the adorable "Curly Sue" in 1991, while his hit "Home Alone" remains one of the most successful comedies of all time.

12. Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan

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"When Harry Met Sally" star Meg Ryan left Hollywood to live a much quieter, less celebrity-like, life in New York with her boyfriend, rocker John Mellencamp. Following her divorce from actor Dennis Quaid and a brief affair with Russell Crowe, she understandably was eager to ditch the glitz and, more importantly, the paparazzi. Ryan was actually said to have had a lot of offers for roles on the table when she decided to leave Hollywood.

13. Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman


With a career spanning five decades, celebrated actor Gene Hackman left Hollywood in 2004 and his last film was the critically acclaimed, "Welcome to Mooseport." In 2008, while promoting his third novel, he confirmed he'd officially retired from acting.When asked during an interview if he would ever come out of retirement, Hackman joked that he might consider it "if I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people." Although he has fans that would like him to return to the big screen, Hackman happily divides his time between writing and painting.

14. Heather Donahue

Heather Donahue


Actress Heather Donahue quickly rose to fame for after her starring role in the spooky "homemade" found-footage horror film "The Blair Witch Project." She stopped appearing in movies shortly thereafter, but made headlines in 2011 for penning a book about her experiences growing medical marijuana.

15. Michael Schoeffling

Michael Schoeffling


Michael Schoeffling, who you might know better as Molly Ringwald's crush Jake Ryan from "16 Candles" or Winona Ryder's dreamy love interest Joe from "Mermaids", retired from acting in 1991 for practical reasons. Apparently, there just weren't many roles he was interested in and being with his family growing family seemed more attractive than acting. After retiring, he actually started manufacturing furniture and opened up a successful woodworking shop.

16. Elizabeth Hurley

Elizabeth Hurley

17. Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett

18. Amanda Bynes

Amanda Bynes

19. Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

20. Jack Gleeson

Jack Gleeson

21. Josh Hartnet

Josh Hartnet

22. Phoebe Cates

Phoebe Cates

23. Rick Moranis


24. Taylor Momsen


25. Brian Wilson


26. Axl Rose

Axl Rose

27. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick

28. Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes

29. J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger

30. Craig Kilborn

Craig Kilborn

31. Doris Day

Doris Day

32. Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson

33. Bobby Fischer


34. Agnetha Fältskog

Agnetha Fältskog

35. John Deacon


36. Steve Perry


37. Shia LaBeouf


38. Chris Evans


39. Kel Mitchell

Kel Mitchell

40. Anne Hathaway


41. Kevin Jonas


42. Uzo Aduba


43. Halle Berry


44. Lark Voorhies

Lark Voorhies

45. Karyn Parsons

Karyn  Parsons

46. Geena Davis


47. Mia Farrow


48. Alicia Silverstone


49. Paul Newman


50. Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

51. Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron

52. Dolores Hart

Dolores Hart

53. Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens

54. Meg Tilly

Meg Tilly

55. Kristy McNichol

Kristy McNichol

56. Debra Winger

Debra Winger

57. John Tesh

John Tesh

58. Peter Ostrum

Peter Ostrum

59. Bridget Fonda


60. Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci