Why Dana Carvey Says He Left Hollywood in the Late '90s — And What He's Doing Now

"I have friends who get stressed about fading or not being as hot," the comedian tells PEOPLE. "I never quite engaged that."

Dana Carvey had audiences cracking up at his George Bush impression and his Church Lady character during seven seasons of Saturday Night Live, and created unforgettable catchphrases with Mike Myers in two Wayne’s World movies. But at the peak of his career in the late ‘90s, Carvey stepped away to raise his two sons Dex and Thomas, now 28 and 26, respectively, with his wife since 1983, Paula Zwagerman.

“I have friends who get stressed about fading or not being as hot. I never quite engaged that,” Carvey, 64, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I have a lot of drive to try to be the best I can be, have people be blown away by what I do and repeating it. But the other side of me is fine wherever I am.”

So when his kids came along, Carvey didn’t hesitate to take a break from Hollywood.

Source: Saturday Night Live/YouTube
Source: Saturday Night Live/YouTube

“My wife and I made two humans, so I thought I probably should make some adjustments based on the two humans being there,” the comedian says.

RELATED VIDEO: Why Mike Myers Took a Six-Year Break From Hollywood: ‘I Have Three Beautiful Kids’

Also during the late ‘90s, Carvey experienced health complications that caused him to undergo four angioplasties in less than a year, followed by double bypass surgery. Now, Carvey claims his health has been “100 percent since 1998.”

dana carvey
Rex/Shutterstock; Sthanlee Mirador/Sipa

He’s since eased back into Hollywood with voice acting, most recently reprising his role as downer dog Pops in The Secret Life of Pets 2. “It’s fun to be in a really good animated film franchise that has its own personality,” says Carvey, adding, “I turned down Madagascar and I turned down Ratatouille. I was very, very busy raising kids at that time.”

The Secret Life of Pets DANA CARVEY
The comedian voices Secret Life of 2‘s Pops. Illumination Entertainment; Andrew Toth/Getty

Now he’s working side-by-side with his grown sons, directing and co-writing a short horror film in which they’re starring.

Still, Carvey largely prefers podcasting and stand-up to on-camera work. “I don’t need to chase it,” he says. “I’m taking it as it comes and enjoying it.”

For more on Dana Carvey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

Despite not being in the spotlight, Carvey came when the Oscars called earlier this year and reunited with Myers — who he still emails with — to present at this year’s awards show in February.

“It’s all surreal,” the Primetime Emmy winner says. “Like, did I make a goofy movie with Mike Myers and people know about it 30 years later? Am I actually in show business? Is that my voice in the cartoon? It’s all completely surreal.”

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is out now.

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