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Top 10 Celebs Who Left Fame Behind

Top 10 Celebs Who Left Fame Behind
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These celebs certainly weren't in it for the fame and attention. For this list, we'll be looking at famous celebrities who willingly walked away from the fame to pursue other passions or to lead a quiet life away from the public spotlight. Our countdown includes Frankie Muniz, Gene Hackman, Dylan Sprouse, and more!


Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Celebs Who Left Fame Behind


Well they certainly weren’t in it for the fame and attention. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebs Who Left Fame Behind.

For this list, we’ll be looking at famous celebrities who willingly walked away from the fame to pursue other passions or to lead a quiet life away from the public spotlight.

#10: Daniel Day-Lewis

Day-Lewis has always remained very private and introverted. Far from the bright lights of Hollywood or London, the actor has lived in the quiet Irish village of Annamoe for the last twenty-plus years. He is also known for taking extended breaks between films, like the five-year gap between “Lincoln” and “Phantom Thread.” However, the latter will supposedly be Day-Lewis’s last, as he announced his retirement in June of 2017, offering no reason, aside from the fact that “the impulse to quit took root in [him]” and that he “wanted to explore the world in a different way.” That said, some people believe it was attributed to depression, as he was stated to have “great sadness.”

#9: Dylan Sprouse

One half of the Sprouse twins – the child actors famous for their roles in “Big Daddy” and “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” – Dylan and his brother Cole have enjoyed steady acting work nearly their entire lives. But while Cole landed the role of Jughead on “Riverdale” and starred in the 2019 film “Five Feet Apart”, Dylan has taken a radically different path in life. In 2011, Dylan began studying video game design at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, graduating in 2015. Three years later, he opened the All-Wise Meadery in Brooklyn. He has also dabbled in acting throughout the years, albeit in smaller, intimate projects; nothing like the big, mainstream work he used to do.

#8: Freddie Prinze Jr.

In the late '90s and early 2000s, you couldn’t walk into a movie theater without seeing this guy’s face plastered on a poster or six. That changed some time around 2004, right after the release of “Scooby-Doo 2.” It was around then that he transitioned to voice work, an industry he has remained in ever since. You may have heard his voice in “Mass Effect 3” or “Star Wars Rebels.” It’s still acting work – just not the kind that attracts the paparazzi. However, Prinze Jr has focused his attention in other fields, as well. He co-wrote a cookbook with Rachel Wharton and served as a producer and director for the WWE. Yes, really.

#7: Jack Gleeson

You may not know Jack Gleeson by name, but you certainly know his face, his oh so once punchable face. That’s right – Joffrey Baratheon! Gleeson earned renown and acclaim for playing the slimy Baratheon... Lannister?... child, but it seems like acting wasn’t for him. Gleeson announced his retirement after wrapping up “Game of Thrones”, telling Entertainment Weekly that he had stopped enjoying it and didn’t want to turn it into a lifelong career. He subsequently studied theology and philosophy at Dublin’s Trinity College and now lives a quiet, normal life in the city.

#6: Mara Wilson

'90s kids will undoubtedly remember Mara Wilson as that adorable little actress from movies like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Matilda.” Unfortunately, Wilson quickly grew disillusioned with the prospect of acting and the fame that came with it. In a 2012 blog post, Wilson addressed the various reasons for her early retirement, including the lack of creative freedom, the “ridiculous” celebrity aspect, and the “dehumanizing” audition process. And while she has left acting behind, she is still in the creative fields. She has lent her voice to “BoJack Horseman” and the famous podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” and she has written both a book and a play. The latter was performed at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2013.

#5: Gene Hackman

A legend long before he played Little Bill Daggett in “Unforgiven” – a role that earned him a BAFTA, Oscar, and a Golden Globe – Gene Hackman is notoriously private and rarely gives interviews. Perhaps he sees no need, or maybe he just doesn't want to. Regardless, during one such rare interview with Larry King in 2004, Hackman announced he would be retiring. This left 2004's “Welcome to Mooseport” – a political satire in which he co-starred with Ray Romano – as his final film, save a piece of narration for a Smithsonian documentary. Since then he has focused on writing and has published two novels as a solo writer – “Payback at Morning Peak” and “Pursuit.”

#4: Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz is one of the most popular actresses of our time, as her movies have collectively grossed over $7 billion at the worldwide box office. And yet she walked away from it all, because the constant traveling was wearing her out. Diaz’s final role was that of Miss Hannigan in 2014’s “Annie.” Since 2014 she has written a health book called “The Longevity Book” and invested in various health-based startups. She has also settled down with a family. Diaz married Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden in 2015 and gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Raddix, in December of 2019.

#3: Frankie Muniz

Muniz earned incredible popularity throughout the 2000s for his titular role on “Malcolm in the Middle”, while also venturing into film with movies like “Big Fat Liar” and “Agent Cody Banks.” Shortly after “Malcolm” wrapped in 2006, Muniz announced his retirement from acting and subsequently ventured in race car driving, performing music, and managing a band called Astro Lasso. And aside from a recent stint on “Dancing with the Stars,” Muniz is taking it easy with his partner Paige Prince. They currently co-manage a specialty olive oil shop in Arizona called “Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars.”

#2: Cary Grant

Grant was one of the finest leading men in Hollywood history. He could do it all, from suave romantic leads to screwball goofs to the dark and introspective characters of Alfred Hitchcock. Grant eventually retired in 1966 in order to raise his newborn daughter, Jennifer, in peace. By then he had also grown disillusioned with the direction of Hollywood, believing that the Golden Age, for which he was a major part, was ending. He soon transitioned over to business work, becoming a director for both MGM and Fabergé. He also spent a lot of time traveling to Monaco, where his good friend Grace Kelly – herself retired from film – was literal royalty.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Shirley Temple

Sean Connery

Phoebe Cates

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Greta Garbo

#1: Audrey Hepburn

Among the most esteemed of leading ladies during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn was the first actress in history to win the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Oscar for the same film, doing so for her role in “Roman Holiday”. Later she would star in acclaimed films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “My Fair Lady.” But Hepburn decided to leave the spotlight behind in the late '60s to focus on family, and she gave birth to her second child in 1970. While she never quit acting altogether, she devoted much of her time to UNICEF and visiting countries like Ethiopia, Turkey, and Vietnam, eventually earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts.
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