Frankly, why wouldn't they? If you'd made a bunch of money from being famous and could support yourself indefinitely, why wouldn't you do what you wanted? That's not to say all of these celebrities are set for life, but they certainly have a head start. If they don't like being famous, they don't have to be. They have the money to do whatever they want.
Most people know Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey, the most hated character in the history of Game of Thrones. Jack, the actor behind Joffrey, was so convincing in the role that most people might be afraid to approach him in real life. As it turns out, after his character was killed off the show, Jack decided to retire from acting and pursue a different career path as an adult.
He went to Trinity College and majored in philosophy and theology. Whatever he does with the rest of his life, it's probably a comfort to know that you can always fall back on the mountains of money you made on one of the world's most popular shows.
Jack Nicholson obviously had a long and historic career, one that included a starring role in The Shining. One of Jack's co-stars, though, decided to give up acting after quite a bit of success as a child. Danny Lloyd, the young boy who plays Danny in The Shining, decided to quit acting as an adult.
Now, he works as a biology professor in Elizabeth, Kentucky. His life now may not be quite as exciting as it would be if he were a movie star, but it's also probably more stable. Who knows? Maybe filming The Shining gave him too many nightmares to consider acting for a career.
You may know Gene Hackman from any number of films. The actor is a legend of Hollywood, and he's created several iconic characters over the years. Since his soft retirement from acting, though, Gene has begun a career as a novelist, and he seems to be as good at that as he was at acting.
To date, the 87-year-old has published five novels, and all of them have been reasonably well-received. After a lifetime of being a part of other people's stories, Gene decided to write some of his own. What's more, it doesn't seem like he misses the spotlight all that much.
In addition to doing some occasional work as a voiceover artist, Freddie Prinze Jr. is also a publisher of cookbooks. Although he and his wife Sarah Michelle Gellar aren't as famous as they once were, the two of them seem to be living a remarkably happy life.
In fact, Freddie's original plan was to enter culinary school. Instead, he landed roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and She's All That and became an actor. Ultimately, it didn't matter. He ended up back in the kitchen after his work as an actor was done. It was always there waiting for him.
So many of the people on this are child actors, and that's probably not a bad thing. Often, it's the child actors who grow up in Hollywood that end up messed up. For Jeff Cohen, one of the young stars at the center of The Goonies, the best course of action was to let his work as Chunk stand as his best-known role.
As an adult, Jeff is now a lawyer and a partner in a firm. He's chosen to live a life out of the spotlight, but that doesn't mean he's necessarily chosen a less lucrative career. Lawyers may not be big names most of the time, but they can make a pretty penny without all the press attention.
If you're a movie fan, you probably know what Jonathan Bennett looks like, even if you don't recognize the name. Jonathan's most famous role is Aaron Samuels, the adorable, attractive boy who plays a central role in Mean Girls. The movie made stars out of a lot of its cast, but Jonathan was left behind as Rachel McAdams made a name for himself.
Today, the former actor worked as a spin instructor in Los Angeles, and eventually returned to the world of entertainment as a host. He's currently the host of Food Network's Cake Wars and the MTV show Copycat.
Apparently, running a candy factory isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Peter Ostrum, the actor who played Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, didn't continue acting after his starring role in that film. Instead, he became a veterinarian, and he's currently working out of upstate New York.
It's funny to think about the way an actor whose face everyone knows can just disappear. Peter Ostrum did something that should have made him very famous, and it probably would have if he'd stayed in Hollywood. Instead, he chose a quiet life taking care of animals in the middle of nowhere.
Being an actor is not the only way to be successful. Charlie Korsmo proved just that when, after starring roles in films like Hook and Can't Hardly Wait, he decided to stop acting and get a law degree. Although he went by Charlie as an actor, he goes by Charles now. It's much more sophisticated and lawyerly, you see.
It goes to show, though, that quitting acting isn't always something that happens only when the roles dry up. In Charles's case, he wound up with a job at Case Western Reserve University as a law professor. It may not be an acting career, but he doesn't need that to be happy.
In the '80s, Michael Schoeffling had a promising career as a leading man in teen films like Sixteen Candles and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. As it turns out, his career as an actor wasn't long for this world. Apparently, he quit Hollywood to become a carpenter and run a woodworking shop.
While it's true that that career probably isn't as profitable as his work as an actor, money isn't the only thing that matters. Sometimes, you've got to do what fulfills you, even if that isn't the surest way to boatloads of cash. It seems like that's exactly what Michael did. Hopefully, it was a worthwhile decision.
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Mike Vitar was famous for work he did as a child actor. He had central roles in films like The Sandlot and The Mighty Ducks, but he eventually quit acting. His last role was in 1996, and since then, he's worked as a firefighter in Los Angeles.
Firefighting can be dangerous work, but it might make Mike feel like he's concretely helped the world in a way that most actors don't. Firefighters save lives after all, and thanks to his money from his work as a child, he probably doesn't need to worry all that much about how he gets paid.
There are plenty of actors who left acting to pursue some other job, but Lark Voorhies is unique in that she retired from acting fairly young, but has been content to rely on that money indefinitely. Today, the actress, who once played Lisa Turtle on Saved by the Bell, is focused on her painting.
Working as an artist is hard enough when you're trying to make money, but apparently, Lark has no interest in selling her work. Instead, she told VH1 that all of her paintings are for herself. It's pretty hard to get buyers to purchase something they can't even see. It's probably a good thing that she also writes books. Otherwise, she'd be fairly destitute.
For many, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a substantial impact on how they see the world, and it also made Will Smith an enormous actor. For Karyn Parsons, who played Hilary Banks on the show, it was also a good place to end her acting career. After six seasons, any actress would be burnt out by the heavy workload they'd endured.
Thankfully, Karyn did much more than sitting on her piles of money. She founded Sweet Blackberry, a non-profit that's focused on teaching children about black history. She found a way to make an impact on her community. There's nothing more important than that.
Geena Davis is not totally divorced from Hollywood in the way that many of the people on this list are. Instead, she simply took a step back from her work as an actress to focus on other things that are slightly more adjacent to Hollywood.
The League of Their Own and Thelma and Louise star has spent the later part of her career working toward improving the portrayal of women in all forms of media. She founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and it seems clear she's interested in paving the way for other female artists.
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As the star of Hairspray, you might have expected Nikki Blonsky to have a fairly extensive career in Hollywood. While she did find work on TV movies like Freeform's Huge and Queen Sized, offers started to dry up fairly quickly for the young actress.
Eventually, Nikki quit Hollywood and the world of show business in favor of pursuing a career in cosmetology. Given how good she was in Hairspray, it's a shame that Hollywood doesn't have more vehicles for plus-sized women. Hollywood has been unnecessarily cruel to that body type. Nikki is extraordinarily talented, but even she couldn't find enough work to sustain a career.
Almost everyone has heard something about Amanda Bynes's struggles with fame. She's been famous since her days on Nickelodeon as a star of All That and The Amanda Show. More recently, she also starred in films like Easy A. Since then, though, Amanda has had some issues, and she seems to have decided to live her life out of the spotlight, at least for a while.
Currently, she's shifted her efforts to focus on a career in fashion design. That work likely gives her a chance to spend more time focusing on herself, which is something that all of us should strive for. She's said she wants to get back into acting, but we're still waiting for Hollywood to give her another chance.
When you work as an actor from a very young age, it can be hard to stay well adjusted. That's especially true when you're really little, as Brittany Ashton Holmes was when she starred in the 1994 version of The Little Rascals. Honestly, it's a miracle that children that young can even remember their lines.
After a few TV movie appearances in the aftermath of Rascals, Brittany decided to take early retirement from acting and pursue a degree in political science. It was probably a wise choice. When you have a childhood that's not normal, you should get a normal adulthood if that's what you want.
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In the '90s, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a heartthrob that many assumed would go on to have a terrific career. He starred in a number of movies, but his major role was on Home Improvement. Although he still does an occasional guest spot on Tim Allen's newer show Last Man Standing, Jonathan has largely moved away from performing in favor of education.
The former actor has studied at Harvard, Columbia, and St. Andrew's University in Scotland. There's nothing like a good education to get you where you're going, especially if you're as rich from your childhood work as Jonathan likely is. The '90s heartthrob is probably made for life.
If you know the name Al Green, it's probably because he's the singer behind "Let's Stay Together," one of the great love songs of our time. Although that's what the soul singer is best known for, his more recent work has had less to do with melody and more to do with praising the Lord.
These days, Al is a preacher at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He may not be the shining musical icon that he once was, but preaching probably shoots him quite well. If the occasion should come for him to break out into song, we know he's got the chops.
When you spend most of your childhood on any TV show, it can shape your perceptions of the world. That's doubly true when that show is Two and a Half Men, and one of your co-stars is Charlie Sheen. That was the case for Angus T. Jones, who starred as the half-man of the show's title.
Although his work on the show was part of what made it a success, after it ended, Angus quit Hollywood and acting all together. Today, he's working on the management side of a company called Tonite. The company is run by Diddy's son Justin and works in production.
Although her husband is still very much involved in Hollywood, Phoebe Cates has stepped away from acting to run her own business. For much of the '80s, Phoebe was the ultimate sex symbol, and her starring role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High was legendary.
Although she's married to actor Kevin Kline, Phoebe seems to have shied away from the spotlight since her biggest claims to fame back in the day. Today, she runs a women's clothing and home goods boutique in Manhattan. It's a quieter life, but it's probably not one that she'd be willing to give up to head back into the limelight.
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While this cutie was a star of Growing Pains back in the late '80s/early '90s, he's fallen from grace in many fans' eyes due to his controversial, homophobic remarks about same-sex marriage in 2012. During his time acting on the ABC show, Kirk became a born-again Christian, and now he's decided to dedicate his life to his faith and became a minister. His sister, Candace Cameron Bure also has devoted her life to her faith but continues to act on Fuller House and her yearly Hallmark Christmas Movies.
Though both of his brothers, Nick Jonas and Joe Jonas have stayed in the music biz since their days in the first iteration of The Jonas Brothers and on the Disney Channel, Kevin decided to go a different route. After getting married to Danielle Jonas and starring in a short-lived reality show called, Married to Jonas, Kev has turned to the world of app developing to keep up the cash flow. He started an app called Yood, which finds the highest rated restaurants and food establishments in your area. As you know, he and his bros have gone back to music for their JoBros reunion, but we'll always remember Kevin's hiatus.
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Rick Moranis was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1980s, poised to take his place in history alongside legends like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Dan Aykroyd, but after the record-breaking success of Ghostbusters, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Little Shop of Horrors, Rick chose to take a step back from acting. Rick told The Hollywood Reporter he isn't officially retired from acting, but after nearly two decades out of the spotlight (barring a few voice over roles), Rick seems content in his greatest role yet: father. He also writes op-eds for the New York Times.
Both Dylan and Cole Sprouse stepped away from acting following their starring roles as Zack and Cody Martin on the Disney Channel franchise The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. While Cole eventually returned to the small screen with a starring role on The CW's Riverdale, Dylan has made a life off-screen as the co-founder of New York's All-Wise Meadery. Dylan occasionally makes short indie films, presumably for his own enjoyment, but has eschewed Hollywood in favor of bringing mead back to the masses.
Cary Grant remains one of classic Hollywood's most recognizable leading men with starring roles in His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and countless other classics alongside the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman. Instead of acting into his old age, Cary retired at 66 to focus on fatherhood, although he dabbled in off-screen vocations such as joining the board of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Fabergé cosmetics, Hollywood Park, Western Airlines, and the Academy of Magical Arts, which runs Hollywood's legendary Magic Castle.
Shirley Temple is best-known as the adorable child starlet tap-dancing her way through Bright Eyes, Curly Top, and Heidi, but after starring in 43 films during her childhood, Shirley retired from acting at 22. She continued to make sporadic guest appearances on television shows until 1969 when she left Hollywood for good to become a diplomat. She became a delegate to the 24th UN General Assembly in 1969, the U.S, Ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976. She also served as the ambassador to Czechoslovakia and served on the boards of the Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, Bank of America, Bank of California, UNESCO, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Taylor Momsen began her transition out of Hollywood while she was still a series regular on The CW's teen soap Gossip Girl, which explains why Little J suddenly started looking like Gwen Stefani. Taylor formally announced that she quit acting in 2011 to focus on her punk rock career with her band The Pretty Reckless. Nine years later, in 2020, The Pretty Reckless are still rocking on and preparing for the release of their fourth album. True to her word, Taylor has not returned to acting in any capacity.
Tommy Rettig is best known as Lassie's original owner on the long-running series, Lassie. He continued acting after his stint on Lassie ended, but during the transition from child star to adult actor, he was convicted for growing marijuana on his farm, which led him to quit Hollywood altogether. Instead, during his adult life, Tom became a motivational speaker, an author, a database programmer, and a respected computer expert.
Mara Wilson has become somewhat of a star on Twitter, but her original claim to fame was as the titular role in Matilda. After roles in Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street, Mara retired from acting to focus on writing. She's published a memoir, staged a play for the New York International Fringe Festival, and written for Cracked.com and Publicolor, and she's been featured on many, many podcasts. Mara also dabbles in voice acting with recurring roles on BoJack Horseman and Big Hero 6: The Series.
Grace Kelly began her career as a stage actress in New York City, appearing in dozens of live drama broadcasts during the Golden Age of Television. Her true legacy in Hollywood was as an Academy Award-winning actress, starring in films alongside Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, and Ava Gardner. Grace retired at the peak of her career to marry Ranier III, Prince of Monaco and begin her duties as Princess of Monaco.
Danica McKellar had trouble transitioning from child actor to adult actress after her starring role on The Wonder Years as Winnie Cooper, leading her to leave the business for a decade to pursue other ventures. She instead became a mathematician, writing several math-related books for young readers that became New York Times bestsellers and winning the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award for her books, blog, and public appearances for encouraging young women to become more interested in math. Fittingly, her return to non-voice roles (after a recurring sting on The West Wing) was in Netflix's math-based Project Mc2.
Andrea Barber of Full House fame briefly returned to the small screen to reprise her role as Kimmy Gibbler on Netflix's reboot, Fuller House, but don't expect to see Andrea rebooting her acting career anytime soon. Kimmy Gibbler is the only role Andrea has played since 1995, instead opting to focus on education. After receiving her MA in Women's Studies from the University of York in England, Andrea returned to her undergraduate alma mater Whitter College as the assistant to the director of Whittier College's Office of International Programs.