11 People Who Left Hollywood Behind

Some people dream about being famous and doing everything they can to belong on the A-list. Celebrities like the Kardashians, Will Smith and his family, and Taylor Swift worked for the spotlight and are happy to stay there.

Not every star feels this way, however. Some made it big and realized the stress of Hollywood wasn’t for them. These actors may pop up occasionally to make a cute cameo, but aside from that, they’re living normal lives. While some have made the occasional return to the industry, they’re nowhere near their peak of stardom. 

1. Cameron Diaz ​​

Bad Teacher (2011) Cameron Diaz
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Cameron Diaz is one of the most famous actors who decided she was done with Hollywood. She’s known for films like The Mask, The Holiday, Charlie’s Angels, and Shrek. She briefly came out of retirement for the movie Back in Action but has no desire to return to acting full time. She stepped away to spend more time with her children and be a devoted mom.

2. Mara Wilson

Matilda (1996) Mara Wilson
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Mara Wilson was an adorable child actor known for Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street. She stopped acting in the early 2000s when she wasn’t landing desired roles. Her struggles with depression and anxiety contributed to her decision to stop acting. Now, she does some voice work for audiobooks and podcasts.

3. Danny Lloyd

The Shining (1980) Danny Lloyd
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Danny Lloyd portrayed Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. While he was wonderful in the film, he didn’t do much in Hollywood afterward. Aside from his brief role in Doctor Sleep, he’s left Hollywood completely. His social media indicates he’s now a farmer and teacher, so he’s living a normal life.

4. Shirley Temple

Just Around the Corner (1938) Shirley Temple, Charles Farrell
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

At one point, Shirley Temple was the biggest little actor in the world, singing and dancing with charm and talent. She was a successful movie star, but Hollywood proved too stressful and overwhelming. Temple retired in the ‘50s and became a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in the ‘60s, staying in the political sphere until she passed in 2014.

5. Gene Hackman

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Gene Hackman
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Gene Hackman is a great actor whose career has covered five decades. However, he lost his passion for acting and pivoted to embrace storytelling. The long hours on set were too much for him. But he still flexes his creative muscles by writing historical fiction novels. His time as an actor inspired him to craft these stories, ranging from cowboy Westerns to suspenseful thrillers.

6. Freddie Prinze Jr.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) Freddie Prinze Jr.
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Freddie Prinze Jr. was a beloved ‘90s actor — everyone had a crush on him. He is talented, but working with difficult co-stars and the stress of acting led him to retire from the business. He hasn’t faded away completely, though. Prinze wrote for WWE, published a cookbook, and now hosts a podcast.

7. Shelley Duvall

The Shining (1980) Shelley Duvall
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Another actor from The Shining, Shelley Duvall, stepped away from Hollywood to lead a normal life. She briefly revived her acting career in 2023 after living in Texas for over 20 years. However, she has no plans to be in any other projects and focuses on spending time with her family.

8. Macaulay Culkin

Home Alone (1990) Macaulay Culkin
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Macaulay Culkin is one of the most prominent child actors to come out of Hollywood. He still occasionally appears in the spotlight or even takes an occasional role, as he did in 2021 for American Horror Story: Double Feature. Some of his siblings have had success in Hollywood, but Macaulay, star of Home Alone, My Girl, and The Good Son, now runs a blog and hosts a podcast.

9. Amanda Bynes

She's the Man (2006) Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Many people remember Amanda Bynes’ downward spiral in the early 2010s. However, in the last decade, she’s found some normalcy and peace far away from the Hollywood spotlight. She decided to pursue a career in fashion and style, graduating from Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2019. She’s mentioned a possible desire to return to acting, but has not done so quite yet. 

10. Rick Moranis

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) Rick Moranis
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Rock Moranis was the goofy star in movies like Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Sadly, his wife received a cancer diagnosis, which caused him to abandon acting to care for her. She passed in 1997, but he remained out of the spotlight to take care of his kids. There are rumors he may be making a comeback, but we’ll see.

11. Karyn Parsons

Karyn Parsons
Image Credit: Miguel Discart – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Karyn Parsons found fame as Hilary Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She was sassy, hilarious, and lovable. She stopped acting and started the Sweet Blackberry Foundation, a nonprofit highlighting African-American stories and achievements to inspire young people.

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