By Tyler McCarthy
Published March 18, 2019
People far and wide dream about moving to Hollywood and becoming a famous actor or actress. However, throughout the years, some have achieved this dream, only to turn right around and leave it all behind for another endeavor.
Despite how glamorous Hollywood may seem, the celebrity lifestyle isn’t for everyone. As a result, a number of popular actors and actresses have found success in the business only to pivot and focus their time, energy and talent elsewhere. To help peak interest in these show business anomalies below is a rundown of eight stars who turned their backs on Hollywood:
"Lizzie McGuire" actress Carly Schroeder recently revealed she trading fame for fatigues. The former child star told TMZ she decided to enlist in the after working with veterans and advocating for human trafficking victims was behind her decision.
"I've been considering it for a while and it is a big choice, but thankfully my parents and my little brother were very supportive of me," Schroeder, 28, told the gossip outlet. "My dad was actually in the Army, he was a Green Beret medic, and my little brother Hunter, he's in the Marines now."
She first announced her move in February 2019, writing on Instagram, "For 22 years, I’ve played dress up for a living. As an actress I’ve been kidnapped, gone blind, nearly eaten by lions and murdered on more than one occasion. I tormented Lizzie McGuire’s little brother on the Disney Channel, was a dolphin trainer, the first female soccer player on an all boys team and Harrison Ford once rescued me during an intense home invasion."
Everyone remembers Gleeson for bringing life to perhaps one of the most maniacal and cruel characters to hit TV screens as King Joffrey Baratheon in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Gleeson’s character was a breakout hit, which many fans credited to his impeccable acting talent. However, unlike many characters who have met their demise on the series, Gleeson didn’t parlay the career wind at his back into other acting jobs. Instead, he opted to retire from the business completely and focus instead on his studies.
Gleeson graduated from Trinity College in Dublin in 2015 with a dual major in theology and philosophy. While Gleeson continues to ponder his next venture, fans will be happy to know that he didn’t walk away from creative ventures entirely. He co-founded the Collapsing Horse theater company and continues to do work on stage while living a significantly more quiet life in London than he likely would have in Hollywood.
After becoming one of Hollywood's most iconic and recognizable stars in the 1930s, Garbo abruptly ended her career after receiving a poor reception for her last movie, "Two-Faced Woman." After that, Garbo went into what many expected to be a temporary hiatus from the spotlight. However, she leaned into her natural tendencies toward reclusiveness and ended up retiring from acting after 16 years and 27 movies. She was just 36 years old.
Prior to calling it quits on the big screen, Garbo was known for never answering fan mail, attending premieres or engaging in interviews with the press.
GRETA GARBO'S FORMER NYC APARTMENT ON MARKET FOR $5.95M
"I think people have heard the name (Garbo) but I'm not sure that a lot of people out there know and appreciate what she meant as an actress," TMC vice president Charlie Tabesh previously said of Garbo. "I love that her intelligence is very attractive. It's not just her face which is gorgeous, it's that she's attractive in a much fuller way than that."
Garbo died at age 84, sticking to her promise to speak and interact in the public eye as little as possible following her decision to leave Hollywood in her wake.
Angus T. Jones
Jones became a household name in 2003 at the age of 9, when he was cast alongside Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer in “Two and a Half Men.” The show became an instant hit and monopolized most of Jones’ childhood. However, after he and his character graduated high school and started to adopt more adult storylines, he found it more and more difficult to reconcile his ever-growing Christian faith with the often lewd humor of the series. Things came to a head when he appeared in a YouTube video to discuss his faith where he urged fans to stop watching the show and admitted that he didn't want to be on it either.
"If you watch ‘Two and a Half Men,’ please stop watching ‘Two and a Half Men.’ I'm on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you, you'll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch."
Following the conclusion of Season 10, Jones left the show for good and started studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In a 2016 interview with People, he did his best to walk back his previous statements about the sitcom and TV in general.
“I got pretty doomsday with my thinking for a long time, but now I’m having fun and enjoying where I’m at,” Jones admitted. “I no longer feel like every step I take is on a landmine.”
Known as the original pinup girl, Bettie Page rose to fame as a sex symbol often credited with sparking the sexual revolution that marked the 1960s. She attracted national attention for her series of photo shoots in which she posed in bikinis, see-through lingerie and sometimes nothing at all. Eventually, she caught the attention of Playboy and was given a January centerfold in 1955, rocketing her to new levels of exposure and stardom.
"I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society," Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said at the time of her death. "She was a very dear person."
Prior to her death in 2008, Page essentially up and vanished from the public eye. She eventually resurfaced and it was eventually revealed that not only was she battling mental illness, but had become a born-again Christian. As a result, the star admitted that her newfound faith conflicted with the way she used to go about making money.
"When I gave my life to the Lord I began to think he disapproved of all those nude pictures of me," she told Playboy the year she died.
Known for breakout comedy roles in films like "Ghostbusters" "Little Shop of Horror," "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" and "The Flinstones," Rick Moranis retired from the public life in the early '90s. Instead of chasing on-screen roles, he threw his full weight into voice acting and raising his children. Unfortunately, the move was out of necessity in many ways as the actor found himself a single parent in 1991 after his wife died of cancer. Fortunately, Moranis was content with the new life outside the public spotlight and continued to embrace the more secluded life.
"I pulled out of making movies in about '96 or '97. I'm a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn't miss it," he previously told USA Today.
Luckily for fans of the comedic actor, he will never admit that he's retired fully. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, he admitted that he still gets offered roles and that he's simply very, very picky about what he'll put his face to. For more than two decades, it seems, nothing has properly piqued his interest.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, landing roles such as voicing young Simba in "The Lion King" and on-screen adventures like "Tom and Huck." However, he's best known as the middle child on the massively successful Tim Allen-led sitcom "Home Improvement." He's also well-known for leaving the popular sitcom in Season 8, only to return for a one-off Christmas episode. The actor, at the time, wanted to focus on academics and spent his time since the show studying at Harvard, Columbia and St. Andrew’s University in Scotland.
“To sit in a big library amongst books and students, that was pretty cool,” Thomas told People in 2013. “It was a novel experience for me.”
He continued: “It was a great period in my life, but it doesn’t define me. When I think back on the time, I look at it with a wink. I focus on the good moments I had, not that I was on a lot of magazine covers.”
Since stepping away from acting, Taylor Thomas has made minor returns here and there, most notably reuniting with his on-screen dad for a cameo in his new show, "Last Man Standing."
Penelope Spheeris achieved box office success with her shocking 1981 documentary “The Decline of Western Civilization,” as well as the 1992 comedy “Wayne’s World” — but by 2012, she had left Hollywood for good.
“[Hollywood] changed into something that I didn’t want to be a part of,” the 73-year-old filmmaker told the A.V. Club. “I really didn’t want to be a part of mainstream Hollywood anymore. It was too — it’s ugly. You have no friends in Hollywood. Hollywood is a lonely, lonely desert, especially as a woman.”
Spheeris said everything changed when she started working for Harvey and Bob Weinsteinon 1998’s “Senseless,” which grossed $13 million from a budget of $15 million. According to Spheeris, not only did she struggle in making the movie a hit, but she received no support from the demanding Weinsteins.
During her reign in Hollywood, Spheeris was celebrated for her work, including bringing the “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video to life for “Wayne’s World," resulting in a Grammy nomination. She also received critical praise when “The Decline of Western Civilization,” her feature film, made its debut. Spheeris released parts two and three of the documentary in 1988 and 1997.
“I got to a point where I said, ‘It’s not that important to me.’ It took a little while because that was me. I identified with the movie business. I am a filmmaker. That’s what I do. Right now, I don’t identify with that anymore. [My partner Sin and I] just spent two years building a house together, and we have six houses, and we’ve got a lot of tenants and a lot of rent, and I don’t need the movie business, you know? So if they don’t hire me because I’m a woman — because I am an older woman — if they don’t hire me, I don’t give a s---. I don’t know who fired who, but as far as I’m concerned, I fired them.”