14 Actors Who Quit Hollywood (and Whether or Not They Actually Stuck to Their Decisions)
In September 2019, the Empire actor announced that he is "done" with acting. When the final season of the hit show ends, so will Howard's time in Hollywood, he told Extra's correspondent Cheslie Kryst.
Kryst asked Howard about his plans once the show is over, “What do you think will happen with your career? What do you see yourself doing going forward?” Terrence responded, “Oh, I’m done with acting. I’m done pretending.”
Kryst then asked Howard if he would be making a pivot to philanthropy, to which he replied, "No, not philanthropy; I’m just focusing on bringing truth to the world."
We'll see if Howard's decision to leave Hollywood sticks!
After an illustrious 60-year career, Robert Redford is retiring from acting, as he exclusively revealed to Entertainment Weekly. His final project is The Old Man & the Gun, which came out in September 2018.
"Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21, Redford explained to EW. "I thought, 'Well, that’s enough.' And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?"
Over the years, Redford has earned two Oscars, six Golden Globes, and one BAFTA, among several other accolades. He has starred in dozens of films, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Great Gatsby, All the President’s Men, and Out of Africa. He has directed critically acclaimed movies like A River Runs Through It and Ordinary People, and he founded the Sundance Institute.
But Redford may not leave Hollywood entirely. When EW asked him if he would still direct films, he said, "We’ll see about that."
Portia de Rossi
Despite having successful (and long-running) acting stints on Arrested Development and Scandal, de Rossi made the decision to leave the industry ahead of her 45th birthday.
"I was approaching 45 and I just kind of … was wondering is there something that I could tackle now that I've never done before that would be really challenging and different," de Rossi explained to wife Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show. "I kind of knew what acting would look like for me for the next 10, 20 years, so I decided to quit and start a business."
But that all changed following a conversation the actress had with AD creator Mitch Hurwitz.
“I called Mitch Hurwitz, who’s the creator of Arrested Development and I said, ‘If there is a season 5, I won’t be doing it because I quit acting. And he seemed really understanding and he totally got it. We had a great conversation, and then he wrote me into five episodes,” she said. “Don’t know how it happened, but yes, I am on season 5.”
Day-Lewis is one of the newer additions to the Hollywood retirement club, but he's been here before. The famously selective actor quit acting onstage during a 1989 performance of Hamlet in London. And after filming The Boxer in the mid-'90s, he retreated from the business, instead apprenticing in the art of woodworking and shoemaking. He's taken five-year breaks before, too. He said these hiatuses were necessary for him to pursue his craft: “I never went away," he said. "I never left myself. I simply need the time I spend not working in films, the time away, to do the work that I love to do in the way that I love to do it." But this is the first official announcement of actually quitting the industry, and we'll just have to wait and see if it sticks. After all, once you have three Best Actor Oscars, what more do you need to work for?
Baldwin's will-he, won't-he flirtation with leaving the acting biz is quite a tale. Back in 2009, he said that he wanted to leave the business after wrapping on 30 Rock. "I don't have any interest in acting anymore," he said. "Movies are part of my past. It's been 30 years. I'm not young, but I have time to do something else." Despite his intentions, Baldwin's statement turned out to be far from the truth. Not only did he not quit, Baldwin didn't even take a break. After he finished 30 Rock, he quickly moved back into the movie realm, starring in films like Blue Jasmine, Still Alice, Concussion and Boss Baby. In fact, with his Donald Trump impression on Saturday Night Live receiving rave reviews, it's safe to say that Baldwin's career has never been hotter.
"Que Sera, Sera" (which translates to "what will be, will be") was Day's biggest hit — and it seems, her motto for her career! She was one of the biggest names in Hollywood during the '50s and '60s, starring in films like The Pajama Game and The Man Who Knew Too Much, as well as fronting her own TV series, The Doris Day Show, for five years. But after the show's fifth season, a 50-year-old Day retired from the spotlight to her estate in Carmel, California. “It wasn’t the city I knew anymore,” she told PEOPLE of Hollywood in 2017, when she celebrated her 95th birthday. “If I had stayed, I might be playing a grandmother – who knows! But I love living in a small town. I have my pets around me, and I like to answer my fan mail.” The actress died in May 2019.
The Royal Tenenbaums star said sayonara to show biz on July 7, 2004, when he told Larry King that his career is "probably all over," and he had no new scripts in front of him. That made 2004's Welcome to Mooseport his last movie (and his 100th overall credit.) He confirmed his retirement in 2008. The two-time Oscar winner is now 89 years old.
Hepburn, of course, went from actress to icon thanks to her work in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday and My Fair Lady. But following the late 1960s, she gave it all up to focus on charity work. Well, almost — Hepburn appeared in a few more films before her death in 1993. She became a huge force for good through her work with UNICEF, traveling to countries like Honduras, Vietnam and Somalia to work on humanitarian causes. President George H.W. Bush eventually honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He became a legend as James Bond, but at the age of 75, Connery decided to retire in 2006. (As most 75 year olds outside of the business would do!) His final film was League of Extraordinary Gentleman, though there were rumors that he'd come out of retirement in the years after to reprise his role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Although he admitted it was an enticing offer, Connery declined. "If anything could have pulled me out of retirement, it would have been an Indiana Jones film," he said. "But in the end, retirement is just too damned much fun."
The three-time Oscar nominee didn't retire, but she did take quite a hiatus — 1995 to 2001 — from the business. “It was an organic thing,” she told The Boston Globe of her break. “I think with anything you’re choosing or finding your way with, if it’s not pulling you forward a little bit, you’re going to feel like you’ve come to a dead end eventually.” But she came back after the break, first, in the film Big Bad Love. She most recently starred on the Netflix original series The Ranch.
When you've been working since childhood, early retirement is sometimes necessary. The Game of Thrones star, who played King Joffrey in the hit HBO show, started acting when he was just 7 years old. And after his character was killed off the show, he retired from acting entirely. "I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to," he said of his decision. "And now there's the prospect of doing it for a living, whereas up until now it was always something I did for recreation with my friends, or in the summer for some fun. I enjoyed it. When you make a living from something, it changes your relationship with it. It's not like I hate it, it's just not what I want to do."
He added: "I'm happy to sacrifice a big paycheck for my happiness, if that's not too corny a thing to say. It's probably more naive than mature to say that, maybe, but that's how I feel."
Bad reviews are part of the business — but for the Swedish star, it was enough to push her into early retirement. When her film, Two-Faced Woman, tanked, the 35-year-old star was embarrassed, and decided to wait for World War II to come to an end before pursuing any other films. A few opportunities came about, but nothing ever actualized, making Two-Faced Woman her last film.
Garbo always preferred to be alone or with loved ones. "As early as I can remember, I have wanted to be alone," she said. "I detest crowds, don't like many people." She spent the rest of her life doing just that, living in a Manhattan apartment and taking long walks through the city.
For Grant, fatherhood came first. He retired from the business in 1966 at the age of 62 in order to raise his daughter, Jennifer, who was born that year. He said that focusing on her upbringing was more "important" than acting. "I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum," he said. "But I discovered more important things in life."
She remains the most successful child star of all time, but Temple just couldn't capture the same sort of popularity as an adult. She left show business for the first time at age 12, to go to school full-time. After attempting a comeback in her early 20s, she formally retired in 1950. But this was hardly the end of Temple's professional life: She went on to have a successful career as a diplomat, serving as the Ambassador to Ghana, and later, to Czechoslovakia.