When actors become famous sometimes it seems like we see them everywhere. Wherever you look, there’s an A-list star sporting the cover of a magazine or splashed across a billboard. So it can definitely be shocking when all of a sudden a celeb who was dominating the box office suddenly just vanishes from the public spotlight.
But for whatever reason, many actors do decide to do this. One day they’ll be on a press tour for their upcoming blockbuster movie, and the next you’ll find yourself asking ‘whatever happened to…?’. Join us for a look through some actors that did just that as we explore the reasons why they stepped out of the limelight in their prime.
Academy Award-winning actor Joe Pesci has really had a marvelous career, spanning decades and appearing in top films like Home Alone, My Cousin Vinny, and Raging Bull which was just one of the frequent collaborations Pesci made with legendary director Martin Scorsese.
But after years of success, he stepped away from fame in 1999. Reasons for this are a little unclear but since then he’s made very few appearances such as his old pal Scorsese’s The Irishman in 2019.
He’s recently been announced as a member of the all-star cast for Pete Davidson’s new show Bupkis so maybe this marks his re-entry into Hollywood.
The That 70’s Show hunk has not only married his costar, Mila Kunis, since the show ended but continued to act and star in some incredible films and TV shows, as well as holding the infamous MTV show Punk’d. He even became the first Twitter user to surpass 1,000,000 followers!
However, in the last decade, Kutcher has stepped back from the public eye and focused his attention elsewhere.
He’s been focused on ending child s*xual exploitation in recent years, a campaign he started with his then-wife Demi Moore. Since 2009 he’s saved thousands of children from s*x trafficking so you can’t critique his change in priorities.
The incomparable Meg Ryan is a staple of Hollywood romantic comedies — When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail. She’s a titan of the genre. But since 2000 her appearances have been fewer and fewer with her last acting credit being Picture Paris (a TV short) in 2018.
One explanation for this may be to do with an affair that was leaked between Ryan and her Proof of Life co-star Russel Crowe.
Her reputation seems to never have fully recovered, even after a remake of the all-female cast The Women in 2008. Crowe’s standing in Hollywood seems to have recovered if it was ever shaken at all, so hopefully, we will see more of Ryan in the future.
At this point, there may not be anyone who can’t remember a single one of Myer’s iconic characters. His voices, his physical performances, and even his writing have cemented him as one of the great comedic voices of the last few decades. From Wayne’s World to Shrek, it’s an easy bet that he’s made you laugh at least once.
After the terrible reception of Myer’s 2008 movie The Love Guru, you might suspect that would explain his absence but rather, Myers remarried in late 2010 and has become a father 3 times over.
The comedian seems to be enjoying quieter family life at the minute.
With 2 Oscars, 2 BAFTAs, 4 Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award under his belt, it’s no surprise that Gene Hackman is happy to leave his acting career behind and explore other avenues. The 92-year-old won his Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role for his part in The French Connection, which is an absolute must-see for anyone who hasn’t watched the flick yet.
The last official part Hackman played was Monroe Cole in the wacky comedy Welcome to Mooseport with Ray Romano.
Since then he’s become a novelist, writing in a range of genres from historical fiction to police thrillers.
For a while, it seemed like Cameron Diaz was becoming a pillar of Hollywood in the same way Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, and Leonardo Di Caprio have asserted themselves. With massive roles in the Mask, There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels, Bad Teacher, and Annie, Diaz has proved her acting chops, trying her hand at comedies, romances, action films, and even musicals.
However, we haven’t seen Diaz on the big screen since 2014 as she’s been focusing on starting a family with her rocker partner Benji Madden (of Good Charlotte).
2022 held some great news for fans of the actress though as she revealed she would be making a return to acting with Back in Action, a Netflix comedy starring her long-time pal Jamie Fox.
A true 90’s starlet, Rene Russo began her career as a model in 1972 when she was approached by a scout at a Rolling Stones concert. She made the move to acting in commercials in the 80s, and eventually became a movie star, holding her own impressively against actors like Pierce Brosnan, Mel Gibson, and Kevin Costner.
Between 2006 and 2001, fans of Russo were sadly not treated to any performances by the actress, leaving them waiting eagerly for her return to Hollywood after such an impressive string of productions.
She did come back, joining Marvel as the Frigga, mother of Thor but hasn’t explained her absence. Whatever her break was for, her fans are delighted to see her performing again.
Even if you’re a little too young to fully remember Rick Moranis’ name, you’ll definitely remember that face. The iconic cover of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and the stunning visuals from Little Shop of Horrors have made Moranis into a national treasure — not to mention the fact he was an original Ghostbuster!
After the tragic passing of his wife in 1997 from breast cancer, the actor decided to take a break and focus on his family.
Since then, has has taken very few roles, mainly lending his voice to children’s films like Brother Bear.
The second Wayne’s World star to appear on this list, like Mike Myers, Dana Carvery has stepped back from fame and acting in recent years. The Saturday Night Live alumni retreated from acting in the late 90s after health issues started plaguing him.
For ten years between 1999 and 2009, Carvey only had 3 credits to his name but since then he’s begun taking smaller comedic roles again.
So hopefully, the world will be seeing more of him soon.
Coming from such an illustrious acting family, it’s no wonder Bridget Fonda made a splash in the 90s with dozens of incredible roles. A Simple Plan and Single White Female launched her into stardom and she was coming into her prime when suddenly she stopped appearing in blockbusters.
Unfortunately for Fondas, her last role was in the TV mini-series The Snow Queen which only had 2 episodes and led to her quitting acting altogether.
However, she is seemingly very happy, having married and started a family with the composer Danny Elfman.
To many Sean Connery is the best James Bond to grace our screens. But the Scottish actor has accomplished much more in his career, starring in the Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
However, towards the end of his time acting Connery was plagued by issues, having a disastrous time filming the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and turning down roles in both The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix which went on to be phenomenal successes.
He has since retired.
Perhaps the most famous example of actresses in their prime leaving the world of Hollywood behind is the inimitable Grace Kelly. The Hitchcock darling starred in 50s classics like Rear Window and Dial M for Murder before meeting Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 at the Cannes film festival.
Kelly soon reached a new level of fame — royalty. She became Princess Grace of Monaco, had 3 children, and went on to devote the rest of her life to charitable and cultural work.
Sadly, she passed in 1982 after suffering a stroke while driving.
If you owned a television set in the 00s you’re sure to have heard of Muniz’s biggest claim to fame. Malcolm in the Middle was a mega-hit, becoming a beloved sitcom with seven seasons, all with Muniz as the show’s star, the titular Malcolm.
Once the show finished, however, the actor decided to try his hand at a whole other career: race car driving.
He became a professional driver in 2006 after deciding to take a hiatus from acting and since then he’s explored dozens of different ventures including running an olive oil shop, drumming in the band Kingsfoil, and starting a family.
The much-adored child actress Mara Wilson was iconic for her performance in Danny Devito’s Matilda and many thought she’d have a long career in the business. However, after a string of successful movies as a child, she’s not appeared on our screens much in recent history.
Wilson found that as she grew her appearance wasn’t the desired look in Hollywood and instead of bending to the pressure to conform, she turned her hand to writing, becoming a prolific author, even penning a memoir of her time as a child star.
She’s also very active on Twitter and has found a fanbase on there.