Making it big in Hollywood is a dream come true for anyone with acting aspirations, right? Of course it is! Who wouldn’t want fame and fortune and everything that comes with it. But being successful in Hollywood for the long haul takes a lot of work and that requires time and energy. While the paychecks are nice, actors can get quite a bit of criticism if they put something out there that the critics don’t like. Their skills and talents can be thrown by the wayside after one bad move. If things don’t come together as planned, they can be plagued for the rest of their career.
While some actors choose to leave Hollywood behind for their families, other career paths or simply because they’ve had enough, there are some who are pushed out for bad behavior or bad box office reviews. Whatever the case may be on an individual level, these are all former Hollywood stars that just don’t seem to be a part of the showbiz shuffle any longer.
15 Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons has always been a man of mystery, along with a fitness guru, but he brought Hollywood one of the most prevalent disappearing acts in ages. He simply stepped into his California home in 2014, according to the Washington Post, and never came back out again, much to the confusion of the media and those who know and love him best. Simmons has always been known for his high energy, pizzazz-filled outfits and workout sessions with overweight and often elderly people.
His private life is mostly private, but people noticed his absence and started asking questions. The Hollywood industry started speculating where he went and why, despite that he himself said that he wasn’t really missing. His disappearance from outside life sparked a podcast that The New York Times said went through a pile of conspiracy theories which led to a large number of media inquiries about where he was and why he didn’t want the spotlight any longer. The simplest answer is that he’s of retirement age and just wanted to relax and get out of the game. But it’s a strange anticlimax to his decades-long career in the fitness world and in the overall spotlight for his work.
14 Mike Myers
When Mike Myers was at the top of his game, it seemed like he would always be the king of the comedy world. The Saturday Night Live alum from Canada made blockbuster smash after blockbuster smash from Wayne’s World to the Austin Powers series all the way through the green ogre Shrek. In the comedy world, he was simply unstoppable. However, in 2008, The Love Guru met awful reviews and proved that Myers wasn’t a sure-fire hit any longer.
Other than a few cameos here and there, he seems to have mostly vanished from Hollywood completely. Was it because Rotten Tomatoes only gave the movie a 13% rating? When Myers talked to GQ in 2014 about his escape to New York, he said he was proud of even his bad movies. He simply remarried and welcomed two children with his wife and decided to work on smaller, passion projects. Since years have gone by since that interview, and he’s still kicking around movie ideas, it’s safe to say he’s not in a hurry to get back on screen. Perhaps, Austin Powers and Shrek could get together to make a joint film? Now, that’s something we would rush to the theaters to see. Especially if Wayne was involved too.
13 Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan was America’s sweetheart—the queen of romantic comedies as the lead female actor in You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and the classic When Harry Met Sally. She also appeared in the drama City of Angels opposite Nicholas Cage, but what has she done in recent years? In 2000, she was the focus of intense tabloid fodder when rumors surfaced that she might be having a fling with Russell Crowe, her co-star in Proof of Life. (She was married at the time to actor Dennis Quaid.) His career was breaking out at the same time from his role in Gladiator. While she continued to work here and there, her roles were never the same after the scandal and she addressed it to InStyle in an interview in 2008 interview.
Ryan admitted to the affair and said that it was liberating after Quaid did the same to her during their marriage, even though the secrecy around the affair shadowed her career to no end.
She attempted a few comebacks, but audiences and critics were never on board so she left Hollywood behind for life in New York, where The Huffington Post says she focuses on her children and her relationship with rocker John Mellencamp instead of making of back onscreen.
12 Sean Connery
Sean Connery is not an actor anyone will ever forget because he will always be the first Bond, James Bond. He rose to fame in the '60s and the prolific Scottish actor continues to have a wide box office reach through the '80s and '90s. He appeared in The Hunt for Red October, The Rock, Highlander and a number of other box office hits. He was even Indiana Jones’ dad, which he doesn't get enough credit for. He was still hot on the market after succeeding with the hit Entrapment, but some mistakes behind the scenes led him to walk away for Hollywood for the time being.
Connery retired after filming what’s known as a disaster, AKA The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but years later, it came out that he didn’t want to star in the movie at all. In fact, he was so against it that he got into a fist fight with the director, according to Entertainment Weekly. He wasn’t out of Hollywood yet, but he turned down epic roles in both the Lord of the Rings and The Matrix trilogies. Sometimes, things work out for the best, we suppose, and he is now enjoying his retirement. But we’ll never forget his smooth, unforgettable voice and epic roles.
11 Joe Pesci
If you’ve ever seen the holiday classic Home Alone, you’ll recognize Joe Pesci, whether you’ve seen him in anything else or not. The '90s movie brought him to a level of fame that doesn’t even go away after decades. However, if you enjoy cinema from that era, you know Pesci as a force to be reckoned with who collaborated on a number of classics, like Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino. He also took a commanding lead in My Cousin Vinny, enjoying a career trajectory that most actors only dream of having.
However, Pesci didn’t enjoy the fame and simply walked away from it all in 1999.
Complex reported a variety of muddy reasons for his early retirement. At first, it seemed as if he was going to pursue music as a career instead of acting. But his interviews over the years have shown his feelings about Hollywood, which definitely aren’t as good as his reviews for his past movies. He’s popped up in small roles over the past 20 years, but he doesn’t seem to have any desire to relive his glory days from the '90s, for whatever reason. Perhaps, it’s a case of making enough money and then going off to enjoy it. We can't blame him for that.
10 Dana Carvey
Dana Carvey is a comedian who rose to prominence in the '90s with his hilarious performances on Saturday Night Live. It’s hard to forget him as the church lady or his spot on impressions of President H.W. Bush. Carvey also had plenty of success with the sketch Wayne’s World, which went on to become two hit movies. But when his co-star in those films, Mike Myers, went on to find further success in other films, Carvey didn’t do as well. In 1997, he made an attempt at a comedy series, but it bombed big time on ABC.
His health later began to fail. Carvey underwent bypass surgery on his heart after having chest pains. Following the surgery, he still had pain and then found out that the doctor reportedly bypassed the wrong artery. ABC News reported that he sued the surgeon for millions and won, but then donated the money to charity. After that, Carvey moved his family away from the Hollywood life and took them to a small town where they could enjoy growing up with some normalcy. While he’s done some voice acting since, he seems content to enjoy life with his family and let other comedians take over his absence where he left off.
9 Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz had a solid “it” girl status in Hollywood after roles opposite Jim Carrey in The Mask, funny movies like There’s Something About Mary and box office hits like Charlie’s Angels and even Shrek. She also took a respectable role in a critically acclaimed indie film, Being John Malkovich. But in 2014, she went on a hiatus after starring in the remake of Annie, which got horrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, however, it seems like she’s taking more than a short break. Daily Mail reports that she told fellow actress and close friend Selma Blair that she was retiring from acting to start a family with her husband, rocker Benji Madden.
Blair stated that she’s just done with Hollywood and doesn’t really need to make any more films to have a great life.
But once press grabbed onto that report, Blair went on Twitter and said she was joking and that Diaz wasn’t retired at all. Diaz herself won’t confirm or deny retirement reports so it’s a wait and see sort of game. We’ll just have to assume she’s retired and happy on the other side of her successful career unless she proves otherwise. Until then, we wish her a happy marriage and life.
8 Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman has had a long, healthy career that goes all the way back to the '60s. He’s starred in nearly 80 movies and has been a part of many more, according to an article in GQ. Some of his classic films include Hoosiers, Crimson Tide, Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. He has withstood the test of time, as have many of his films. And no one can forget how Hackman took on the iconic Lex Luthor role with Christopher Reeves as Superman, either.
In 2001, Hackman reluctantly performed in The Royal Tenenbaums and thank goodness he did because the part was written specifically for him and ended up being one of his signature, beloved performances. However, in 2004, he appeared in Welcome to Mooseport, a rather lackluster comedy and chose to have that be his final film, as Newsweek reported. Though he retired from acting and confirmed it in other interviews along the way, he hasn’t finished with creativity and is making his way in the writing world now instead. We suppose that’s a more relaxing way to work for someone in retirement age, but still, he’ll be missed as a formidable actor in films he could have crushed.
7 Rene Russo
Rene Russo came out of nowhere and became a fixture in Hollywood films. With only a few credits to her name in the past, she was an essential in '90s movies like Outbreak, Tin Cup, Ransom, and The Thomas Crown Affair. Once the '90s were behind her, then her work on the big screen starting become less consistent. Then she basically vanished after wrapping up production on the Yours, Mine and Ours remake in 2005. Russo did resurface in 2011 to be the Viking goddess Frigga in Thor, but she hasn’t shown up much elsewhere since.
As tends to happen, rumors spread about Russo’s disappearance and many believed it was because of her bipolar disorder.
However, in 2014, she told Showbiz 411 that being bipolar wasn’t her reason for taking a break from the big screen. Instead, she wanted a break from acting since she had been doing it since the age of 9. Even if she wasn’t a recognizable name until later years. And what did she do during those six years off? Gardening, apparently. But at least she has the ability to pick and choose what she does now after some big hits in her background. And by pick and choose, we mean in the garden, of course.
6 Rick Moranis
Rick Moranis made a name for himself on Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live, called SCTV and then became a regular in '80s comedy classics that people still know and enjoy today. He was notable for the giant movie Ghostbusters, alongside comedy greats Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. He also starred in Little Shop of Horrors and then Spaceballs, as well as the Disney franchise Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. He got steady work through the '90s, also snagging a role as the live-action Barney Rubble in The Flintstones in 1994.
He seemed to have staying power in Hollywood where he could get the roles he wanted, when he wanted them. But just when it seemed like he’s never go away, he vanished. After 18 years, he was being pressured into reprising his role as Lewis Tully in the new Ghostbusters so he finally came out of hiding and talked to The Hollywood Reporter about why he disappeared. Apparently, his wife passed away in 1997 and he devoted himself to raising his young children and he said in his interview that he has no regrets about staying home with his kids and enjoying them to their fullest.
5 Bridget Fonda
Bridget Fonda was born with one foot in the acting world, thanks to her famous dad, Peter Fonda. She made her first film appearance at the young age of 5 in the classic 1969 film, Easy Rider. But it wasn’t until decades later that she started to really make her mark on Hollywood. She came onto the scene in a big way in the '90s with her roles in Single White Female and by playing characters in Singles, Point of No Return and Jackie Brown. But her career didn’t do as well in the '00s.
For one, she was asked to play the lead role in Ally McBeal, but turned it down because she wanted a name in film acting instead.
The TV show, of course, became a big hit and Fonda quit acting altogether after a box office bomb with Monkeybone in 2001, according to Daily Mail. At least she had a solid body of work behind her and it’s not unheard of for people to want a change in their lifestyle once they settle down and start families. Fonda married Danny Elfman, the famous film composer, had children and hasn’t looked back on her Hollywood days with envy since. Who knows if she ever will.
4 Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes is one of the more recent flaming Hollywood stars to go down hard in the industry. She started out as a Nickelodeon celebrity with a promising young career in comedy and other acting areas back in the '90s. She started in All That on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 2005 and then landed her own program, The Amanda Show, which aired from 1999 to 2002. Her remarkable young age and popularity along with her manic energy and comedic talent attracted a number of fans and her forays into film didn’t create classics, but they were plenty popular.
However, in 2012, her life got very weird very fast, according to the Observer. The strangeness started with a string of hit-and-runs and then ballooned into odd tweets and bizarre public behavior. For example, she barricaded herself in a clothing store dressing room and started a fire in a residential neighborhood, as TMZ reported. Her representatives said she wasn’t suffering from mental illness as of 2016, though that was a frequent report. Their explanation was that her behavior was due to substance use. Whatever the case may be, her public breakdown is in the Hollywood spotlight, but her career no longer is. In recent years, she’s living a low-key life off scenes.
3 Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle was a popular name in the comedian world, but he abruptly departed from his influential show, entitled Chappelle’s Show, then literally left the country for a short time in 2005. Not only did he walk away from his fame but The Washington Post states that he gave up at least a $50 million payday in order to flee the spotlight. The departure was unexpected and unexplained so, naturally, it sparked dozens of rumors that persisted for years afterward. Some of those rumors included a mental breakdown. Even Chappelle’s longtime creative partner, Neal Brennan, was unable to find Chappelle or explain why he might have left his bright career behind.
His hiatus from Hollywood lasted for years until he returned to TV through two stand-up specials that aired on Netflix starting in 2017.
Many thought that meant the comedian was trying to make a comeback, but he hasn’t done much else since the appearance on those specials. Sometimes, Hollywood gives stars second acts when they turn and high tail it the other direction and other times, once they walk away, they’re done for good. His disappearance and the reasons behind it remain a mystery, though they aren’t discussed as often now.
2 Stacey Dash
Stacey Dash played a beloved role in the '90s hit comedy, Clueless, but her celebrity fizzled out over the years after that and she seemed to vanish into thin air once she spiraled downward in the industry. She shifted her priorities away from acting and more into politics, making headlines in that region instead. She told People that her right-wing, Republican point of view damaged her chances in Hollywood and she became a talking head for conservative media instead, so she wasn't entirely out of the spotlight. However, her turn on that end fizzled out as well and her two-year jaunt on Fox News ended when her contract was not renewed, as The Hill reported.
Since that time, she’s used her platform to talk about Black History Month, single out Muslims with less-than popular rhetoric and downright insult transgender individuals. She most recently appeared in Sharknado 4 (but who hasn’t) and her appearance was brief as she was immediately eaten. Her Hollywood days seem to be behind her, whatever the main cause. She’s no longer a part of the scene, whether it’s her lack of roles, her political views or all of her burned bridges, she’s no longer part of the in-crowd.
1 Edward Furlong
Edward Furlong is best-known for his role in the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day. He played John Connor, a teenager incarnation of the future savior for humanity and he gained a huge following after the movie dropped. Once the film came out, however, his life took a turn for the worse. Just three years down the road, directors told Entertainment Weekly that he was on a path to disaster and that prediction came out to be the truth.
Growing up famous isn’t easy for every actor and Furlong turned to substances. He then started racking up arrests for a number of things.
He told People that Hollywood messed him up in 2006, but he also said he turned his life around. He hasn’t appeared on the Hollywood scene much as of late and his promising career is long in the past. His most notable appearance in recent years was a minor role in a fan film revolving around Star Trek. But due to his troubles and his issues getting jobs, he’s all but disappeared from the Hollywood world. Sometimes, the famous city chews up young stars and spits them back out. We're just glad he found a way to get his personal life back on track.
References: ew.com, people.com, washingtonpost.com, nytimes.com, people.com, thehill.com, washingtonpost.com, observer.com, complex.com, instyle.com, huffingtonpost.com, rottentomatoes.com, gq.com, gq.com, newsweek.com, showbiz411.com, hollywoodreporter.com, abcnews.go.com, dailymail.co.uk, ew.com, rottentomatoes.com, dailymail.co.uk