9 famous actors who gave up their Hollywood careers

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle photo by Mark Jones

Everybody loves the famous, stylish, and rich world of cinema. However, it is just the outside face of a harsh industry. Acting needs some serious hard work and determination. Some of the roles like the one of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or that of Christian Bale in The Machinist take a heavy toll on the actor’s mental and physical health. There have been examples of many actors leaving Hollywood and stars who acted for reasons like these. Some of them pursued a college degree while the others opted for another profession. Here is a list of such actors:

1. Jack Gleeson

Photo of Irish actor Jack Gleeson
Pictured by Joffrey Baratheon

Jack Gleeson can be called the most prominent among the stars who gave up acting. After his portrayal of Joffrey Baratheon in the super hit HBO series Game of Thrones, he has risen to global fame. However, after his stint in the show, he left Hollywood to pursue an alternative career. He left Hollywood in 2014 when his character was killed off in Game of Thrones. Later, he majored in philosophy and theology at Trinity College. Currently, he owns a theatre group called Collapsing Horse Theatre Company. Speculation is that he’ll return to Hollywood and start acting again.

2. Danny Lloyd

Among the stars who gave up acting, Danny was the one who worked as a child actor and later gave up the career. Do you remember the child named Danny Torrance in the hit 1980 horror film, ‘The Shining’? Yes, you’ve guessed it right. Danny Lloyd was the child actor who played Torrance. However, growing up, he didn’t choose acting as his career. He considered academics as his forte and started a biology professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

3. Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle is the most famous name among the actresses who gave up acting. She is a former actor and currently the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan started her career as an actress in some popular films like Remember Me, Get Him to the Greek, and Horrible Bosses. In 2011, she landed up the role of Rachel Zane in the hit USA Network show Suits. It was her most popular role. Later, she was set up with a blind date with Prince Harry. They fell in love and decided to get married.

4. Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman is a famous actor. He has appeared in several films, and his characters have always been memorable and noteworthy. His iconic roles have brought him name and fame. At one point, he decided to take a quiet retirement from acting. That led him to a new career as a novelist. An actor who has lived other people’s stories now got a chance to write his ones. He has been the central character of some of the most iconic tales. Here is a list of the legend’s best movies as he gave up the acting dream.

5. Freddie Prinze Jr

The tale of Freddie Prinze Jr is that of following the first passion and goal of life and one of the stars who gave up acting. He was always a cooking enthusiast. However, an incredible series of events brought him to a juncture where he played roles in famous serials like ‘I know what you did last summer’ and ‘She’s all that.’ Even after being a famous actor, the kitchens were beckoning him back. Finally, he took that decision to redirect his hard work towards the culinary field. Now, he has published many cookbooks that are vastly popular among the masses. He also works as a voiceover artist. He is one of the stars who gave up acting.

6. Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen was a famous actor. There are many child actors in Hollywood. They earn all the name and fame at a very young age. Unfortunately, there are some cases wherein the glitz and glamour of this industry make a negative impact on the actors’ lives. Hence, some child stars gave up acting and took up some other professions in their adulthood. One such name is Jeff Cohen. He played a lead role in ‘The Goonies.’ However, post this stint, he gave up acting and chose to become a lawyer. He is also a partner in a reputed firm that earns him a fortune.

7. Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz is a great name in the league of actresses who gave up acting. She has a glorious career of two decades. She began with ‘The Mask’ in 1994 and continued performing in comedy films like ‘There’s something about Mary’ and dramas like ‘Vanilla Sky.’ She last appeared in ‘Annie,’ which was released in 2014. In 2018, Cameron quit the acting career. It looks like she loves the time to herself. She recently welcomed her daughter, Radix. Now, she is enjoying quality time with her family. Here is a list of her best movies.

8. Phoebe Cates

Phoebe Cates is the one who is eternally remembered for her role in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’ That made her the global crush in the 80s. She also played a character in the Gremlins Films. In 1989, Phoebe got married to the famous actor Kevin Kline. The couple had two children and decided to keep on alternating between working and parenting. However, parenting allured Phoebe completely, and soon, she became one of the actresses who gave up acting and chose to be with her children.

9. Mike Vitar

Mike Vitar was a famous child actor having essayed various roles in films like ‘The Mighty Duck’ and ‘The Sandlot.’ In 1996, he decided to quit the acting career and choose a path-breaking option. He began working as a firefighter in Los Angeles. Firefighting is a dangerous profession, but Mike saw the good he could do to the world by taking up this job. So he gave up acting dreams.


The careers in acting are very attractive. But, some people have chosen to quit the acting career and make some bold choices. Here are a few stories of such stars who gave up acting.

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