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24 Celebrities Who Didn’t Care About Fame and Wanted Normal Lives Instead


Many people spend their entire lives trying to break into the film industry, but for some, fame just wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Despite having prominent roles in successful films, many actors and actresses have decided to leave Hollywood in the rearview mirror and pursue a different passion.

For some acting retirees, their time on screen helped set them up enough financially that finding work became less of a priority.

For others, living under the public microscope that comes with stardom proved to not be worth it. Here are 24 celebrities who left their acting careers behind to live a normal life.

1. Frankie MunizMalcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz managed to become a household name very early in his career with his roles in My Dog Skip and playing the title character in FOX’s hit family sitcom. In 2003, Muniz was considered to be “one of Hollywood’s most bankable teens” and starred in a number of hit films in the early aughts. However, in 2008, Muniz decided to put his blossoming career on hold to pursue an open wheel racing career where he competed in the Atlantic Championship. He also dabbled in a music career performing in the band Kingsfoil as a drummer from 2012 to 2014.

2. Leelee Sobieski. With her roles in the hit films Deep Impact and Eyes Wide Shut, Sobieski quickly became an actress on the rise while still only a teenager. She went on to appear in a number of successful teen movies before taking on more mature roles. However, Sobieski made the decision to retire at only 29 years old. In an interview with Us Weekly, Sobieski stated, “I don’t do movie stuff anymore. I am just focused on my kids. I think that’s mainly why I stopped … Also, ninety percent of acting roles involve so much sexual stuff with other people, and I don’t want to do that.”

3. Chris Owen. Owen accumulated a number of film credits in the late 90s and early 2000s, but his most memorable role is undeniably as The Sherminator in the American Pie franchise. While Owen still enjoys acting, roles haven’t been as easy to come by, and New York Daily News reported that he was working as a waiter in a sushi restaurant in California. “Life doesn’t always go the way you planned,” Owen said in the article. “I love acting and this job lets me stay in the fight.”

4. Ariana Richards. Richards solidified her place as a child actor on the rise by appearing in the hit films PrancerTremors, and most notably in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, Jurassic Park. Her roles earned her a number of accolades, but Richards decided to leave acting behind and pursue painting. One of her pieces is hanging on the wall of Spielberg’s office.

5. Danny Lloyd. Former child star Danny Lloyd was critically praised for his role as Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel, The Shining. However, Lloyd only appeared in one more role after appearing in the horror classic and went on to work as a biology professor in Elizabethtown College.

5Movie Pilot / The Phantagraph

6. Jack Gleeson. For most actors involved in the wildly popular HBO series Game of Thrones, the show has become a big break to the rest of their careers. However, 25-year-old Jack Gleeson decided to retire after concluding his work on the series and try his hand at other creative pursuits. Following the show, Gleeson starred in the puppetry shows Bears in Space, which was created by his theatre company and premiered in New York in 2016.

6EW / StoryPick

7. Nikki Blonsky. The Hairspray star received a number of accolades for her star-making performance in the musical, which also served as her acting debut. While Blonsky continues to take on roles, she’s also taken her career in a different direction. In 2011, she earned a cosmetology license and worked in New York as a part-time hairstylist and makeup artist.

7TooFab / Radar Online

8. Jeff Cohen. Former child star Jeff Cohen had a budding career in film and television, best remembered for his role as Chunk in Richard Donner’s The Goonies. However, after 1991, Cohen retired from the industry and instead pursued law. He now works in Los Angeles as an attorney and founding partner of Cohen & Gardner, LLP.

8Movie Pilot / Her Campus

9. Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Thomas quickly became a 90s teen heartthrob as he grew up on the hit show Home Improvement. The role ended up spawning a successful career in both film and television. However, Thomas decided to turn his attention to academics and enrolled in Harvard University following graduation. In 2010, he graduated from the Columbia University School of General Studies.

9International Business Times / Good Housekeeping

10. Shirley Temple. One of the most famous child actors to grace the screen, Shirley Temple, was a major box-office draw and won numerous accolades for her work, including a special Juvenile Academy Award. However, her appeal diminished once she reached adolescence and she decided to retire at the age of 22. A decade later, Temple made the transition to politics and eventually became the US ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

11. Peter Ostrum. Although Ostrum only appeared in one film, it was a role that could have set him up for quite a career in Hollywood. At 12 years old, Ostrum took on the role of Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory alongside Gene Wilder. However, he opted not to sign a three-film contract after wrapping and decided to become a veterinarian instead.

11. Peter Ostrum. Although Ostrum only appeared in one film, it was a role that could have set him up for quite a career in Hollywood. At 12 years old, Ostrum took on the role of Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory alongside Gene Wilder. However, he opted not to sign a three-film contract after wrapping and decided to become a veterinarian instead.

12Huffington Post / Eater

13. Brittany Ashton Holmes. Former child actress Brittany Ashton Holmes was best remembered for her role as Darla in the 1994 feature film adaptation The Little Rascals. However, after two years in the industry, Holmes decided to retire from the spotlight. Instead, Brittany chose to get a degree in political science and worked at Starbucks to pay for schooling.

14. Josh Saviano. From 1988 to 1993, Josh Saviano appeared as Kevin Arnold’s best friend, Paul Joshua Pfeiffer, in the hit show The Wonder Years. However, outside of the long-running comedy-drama series, Saviano only had few other credits. Instead, he decided to study political science at Yale and then went to law school.

15. Taran Noah Smith. Smith started his acting career at only 7 years old when he played the youngest son on the long-running series Home Improvement. However, when the show ended and he had just turned 16, he knew that he didn’t want to act anymore. Instead, Smith opened a California-based non-dairy cheese manufacturer and restaurant, Playfood, with his then-wife Heidi van Pelt.

16. Amanda Bynes. With her knack for comedy, Amanda Bynes quickly became Nickelodeon’s biggest star. Her appearance on the sketch comedy show All That ended up spawning her own spin-off, The Amanda Show, which led to a number of film projects. However, after appearing in the hit teen comedy Easy A in 2010, Bynes announced an indefinite hiatus from acting. In the meantime, Bynes decided to go to fashion school with plans to have her own clothing line.

17. Phoebe Cates. Model turned actress, Phoebe Cates, will always be remembered for her role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which provided one of the most iconic teen movie moments. However, Cates decided to retire from acting after just over a decade of being in the industry. Instead, she opened her own boutique, Blue Tree, on New York City’s famous Madison Avenue.

18. Rick Moranis. After becoming prominent on the sketch comedy series Second City Television, Rick Moranis went on to have one incredibly successful career in film. He appeared in a number of hits, including GhostbustersSpaceballs, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. However, in 1997, Moranis began a hiatus from acting to raise his children after the loss of his wife.

18Entertainment Tonight / The Hollywood Reporter

19. Lisa Jakub. Jakub has a good number of film credits to her name, but her most notable performance was as Lydie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. Despite her filmography having some big hits, Jakub decided to retire from acting at the age of 22. She has since stated that she has no intentions of returning to acting and authored a book, You Look Like That Girl, which discusses life after acting.

19Pinterest / Twitter

20. Andrea Elson. Former child actress and model, Andrea Elson, garnered attention for her roles on the television series Whiz Kids and ALF. However, after those series ended, Elson only appeared as a guest star on popular shows until she eventually decided to give up acting altogether in 1998. Since then, Elson has started her own blog and has been working as a yoga teacher.

20Kiwi Report

21. Mara Wilson. Former child star, Mara Wilson, proved to be a certified scene-stealer from a very early age. She made her acting debut in the acclaimed comedy Mrs. Doubtfire, and then went on to star in the hit films Miracle on 34th Street and Matilda. However, Wilson decided to retire from acting at an early age due to personal reasons and now focuses her creative talent on writing.

21Parade / NPR

22. Angus T. Jones. Jones appeared in a number of films and television shows at a young age, but he’s best known for his role on the long-running series Two and a Half Men. However, once he became 18, Jones started to turn on the show as he found the storylines conflicting with his newly acquired religious views. He departed from the show during the 11th season and has since joined the management team of Tonite, a multimedia, and event production company.

22QFM Zambia

23. Carrie Henn. Receiving critical acclaim for her performance in the hit film Aliens, it looked like a bright future in acting for Carrie Henn. However, the former child actress decided to leave the world behind and pursue a degree in liberal studies. Now, Henn works as an elementary school teacher.

23Kansas City Comic Con / Xenopedia

24. Omri Katz. Katz appeared in a number of successful films and television shows in his youth, but he’s often recognized most for his role in Disney’s Halloween-themed comedy Hocus Pocus. However, in 2002, Katz decided to leave the acting world behind, and according to his IMDB, began hairdressing in Los Angeles.


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