Top 10 Hollywood Actors Who Went MIA

Top 10 Hollywood Actors Who Went MIA
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Whatever happened to these celebs? For this list, we'll be looking at once-popular hugely prolific actors who disappeared from the acting scene or at least were significantly less prolific and much less in the public eye than they had been in the past. Our countdown includes Cameron Diaz, Gene Hackman, Mike Myers, and more!

top 10 Hollywood actors who went MIA

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Hollywood actors who went MIA.

For this list, we’ll be looking at once-popular hugely prolific actors who disappeared from the acting scene or at least were significantly less prolific and much less in the public eye than they had been in the past. They could have returned to showbiz, but their return saw them nowhere near where they were during their peak.

Which of these actors is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Cameron Diaz

This American actress absolutely dominated the late ‘90s and 2000s. The recipient of four Golden Globe nominations, Diaz is currently the fifth-highest grossing actress in domestic box office history, with her movies totalling over $3 billion in gross. Diaz had a busy 2014, starring in “The Other Woman,” “Sex Tape,” and “Annie.” And then she just...disappeared. As it turns out, Diaz was simply overworking herself to the point of exhaustion. In 2017 - three years after “Annie’s” release - Diaz revealed that she was tired of the constant traveling and was taking an indefinite hiatus from acting. Eight months later, Diaz confirmed that she was officially retiring. She subsequently gave birth to a daughter in 2019 and launched an organic wine brand the following year.

#9: Catherine Zeta-Jones

Another major star of the 2000s, Catherine Zeta-Jones began her career as a sex symbol before garnering critical acclaim (and an Academy Award) for her performance as Velma Kelly in “Chicago.” This in turn resulted in a slew of high-profile roles and films, including “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Terminal.” Unfortunately, Zeta-Jones was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in the mid 2000s and took a sabbatical from screen acting, instead choosing to focus on the stage and her family. She has since returned to Hollywood, but in a significantly diminished capacity. She has starred in just one movie since 2013 and has taken some roles in TV, including “Feud: Bette and Joan” and the second season of “Prodigal Son.”

#8: Bridget Fonda

Being born into the legendary Fonda family, it was only natural that Bridget Fonda - daughter of Peter - made her way onto the screen. It didn’t take long for her to gain recognition, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for 1989’s “Scandal.” She followed this up with big roles in “The Godfather Part III,” “Single White Female,” “Balto,” and “Jackie Brown,” just to name a few. But Fonda disappeared in 2002 following a Hallmark movie titled “Snow Queen.” The next year, she married famous film composer Danny Elfman, and the two had a son in 2005. Not much has been heard from Fonda since.

#7: Meg Ryan

Perhaps the most prominent rom-com actress of all time, Meg Ryan rose to stardom as Sally Albright in “When Harry Met Sally.” She subsequently appeared in some of the most beloved rom-coms of the ‘90s, including “Sleepless In Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” both of which co-starred Ryan and Tom Hanks. She also did some great dramatic and voice work, starring as Pamela Courson in “The Doors” and voicing the titular character in Fox’s “Anastasia.”. Ryan’s creative output slowed throughout the 2000s, and she broke away from Hollywood altogether in 2009. Since then, she has starred in a web series and an ABC Family teen comedy titled “Fan Girl.” In 2015, Ryan directed her rom-com partner Tom Hanks in the indie drama, “Ithaca.”

#6: Mike Myers

One of the most beloved Canadian comedians, Mike Myers rose to stardom on “Saturday Night Live” before absolutely dominating the ‘90s and early 2000s. “Wayne’s World,” “Austin Powers,” and “Shrek” all proved enormous hits, as did their respective sequels. Unfortunately, the mid 2000s proved comparatively disappointing, with both “The Cat in the Hat” and “The Love Guru” considered enormous critical and commercial disappointments. The latter effectively tanked Myers’s career, and following a bizarre appearance in “Inglourious Basterds” and more voice work in “Shrek Forever After,” Myers disappeared from feature films for eight years. He returned from hiatus in 2018, appearing in both “Terminal” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

#5: Shelley Duvall

One of the most prominent actresses of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Duvall gained recognition in the avant-garde Robert Altman drama “3 Women” before starring in the likes of “Popeye” and “The Shining.” She subsequently retired from acting in 2002 at the age of 53. Duvall remained out of the public spotlight until a particularly controversial interview with Dr. Phil aired in November 2016, in which Duvall appeared mentally unwell. In February of 2021, a writer for The Hollywood Reporter located Duvall for an extensive interview. She cleared up the misconception regarding Stanley Kubrick’s supposed cruelty, calling him “very warm and friendly” and spoke unkindly about Dr. Phil, saying, “I found out the kind of person he is the hard way.”

#4: Rick Moranis

This legendary funnyman was dealt a rotten hand. Moranis rose to prominence in the ‘80s thanks to critically acclaimed roles in “Ghostbusters,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Spaceballs,” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Unfortunately, his wife Ann Belsky passed away from cancer in 1991, leaving Moranis a widowed single father with two young children. Following her untimely death, Moranis appeared in a few more movies - including the 1994 live-action adaptation of “The Flintstones” - before semi-retiring in 1997 to raise his children. As he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, “I took a break, which turned into a longer break...Stuff happens to people all the time, and people make adjustments, change careers, move to another city. Really, that's all I did.”

#3: Gene Hackman

One of the most beloved and decorated actors in movie history, Hackman’s career spanned five decades, four Golden Globe trophies, and two Academy Awards. His first Oscar came in 1972, when he won for “The French Connection.” His second came over twenty years later, winning for his performance as Sheriff Little Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.” Following the 2004 comedy “Welcome to Mooseport,” Hackman received the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes before announcing his retirement to Larry King. He was 74 years old. But that wasn’t the end of Hackman, as he subsequently embarked on a writing career. He has published five novels since 1999, the most recent of which - a police thriller titled “Pursuit” - was published in 2013.

#2: Joe Pesci

A longtime Martin Scorsese collaborator, Joe Pesci gained attention playing Joey LaMotta in “Raging Bull,” earning himself his first of three Academy Award nominations. He also starred in the likes of “Goodfellas” and “Casino” while sprinkling his filmography with more playful roles like that of Leo Getz in the “Lethal Weapon” series and Harry in “Home Alone.” Following “Lethal Weapon 4” in 1998, Pesci embarked on a twenty year absence from Hollywood, which was only broken by a cameo in “The Good Shepherd” (directed by frequent collaborator Robert De Niro) and a main role in a movie called “Love Ranch.” Luckily, Pesci ended his long mainstream hiatus by starring as Russell Buffalino in “The Irishman,” earning his third Oscar nomination in the process.

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

Geena Davis
Hasn’t Done Much Since “Stuart Little”

Dana Carvey
Semi-Retired After “The Master of Disguise” to Raise His Family

#1: Jack Nicholson

This legendary performer is the greatest actor in movie history. At least according to the Academy. Nicholson currently holds the record for the male actor with the most Oscar nominations with twelve, and he is tied with Daniel Day-Lewis and Walter Brennan for the most awards, winning three. His wins came for his work in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Terms of Endearment,” and “As Good As It Gets.” Unfortunately, Nicholson retired from acting following the critical and commercial disappointment that was “How Do You Know.” A source close to Nicholson reported that the actor was suffering from memory issues and was finding it difficult to remember his lines. And with that, the movie business lost one of its most reliable, consistent, and remarkable performers.