It's hard to believe anyone would willingly quit acting, but these celebs had their reasons.
Though widely regarded as one of the most exciting industries, show business isn’t all glitz and glam. From having to prove yourself for years before landing a respectable acting role to dealing with film producers and directors that often take advantage, the lives of the rich and the famous aren’t always as glamorous as they seem. Plus, celebrity culture can change in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re an A-list actor prancing around red carpets and getting Oscar-bait roles shoved in your face, and the next, fans barely remember your name. In the same way an ACL tear can torpedo an athlete’s career, for actors, just growing older can mean even more minimal role opportunities, making a regular job look pretty appealing. Sometimes ditching the drama and switching careers is the secret key to happiness. Here are some celebrities that quit acting, and why.
Remember Grace Kelly? She was a gorgeous film actress who starred in several significant films in the early to mid-1950’s, until she turned 26, decided to retire, and marry the Prince of Monaco. Sound familiar? Meghan Markle went the actor-to-royalty route, too. She started acting in 2002 and acted in a stream of minor TV and movie roles before snagging her breakout role as Rachel on Suits from 2011 to 2018, until she quit the show to marry Prince Harry and become the Duchess of Sussex.
Most fans know her as Sam Puckett on iCarly, the hit Nickelodeon show aired from 2007 to 2012, but don’t look for McCurdy to appear in the second season of the much more mature Peacock reboot. The star opened up on the podcast she hosts, Empty Inside, sharing, "It was very much the pressure of my family didn't have a lot of money, and this was the way out, which I actually think was helpful in driving me to some degree of success."
There's Something About Mary turned Cameron Diaz into one of the most successful actors in Hollywood throughout most of the 1990s. But in 2014, the star announced her retirement from acting, and has since has written not one, but two best-selling self-help books. She’s also turned her attention to advocating environmental concerns and education, and has started a family of her own.
In August, Cameron Diaz opened up about her decision to stop acting when she opened up to Kevin Hart on his talk show Hart To Heart. "When you do something at a really high level for a really long period of time, there's a lot that — when you're the person who's sort of delivering on this one thing. You're the person on the screen, you're the person who's 'the talent' — everything around you, all parts of you that isn't that, has to be handed off to other people," Diaz said.
Jamie Lynn Spears
The end of Zoey 101 was announced in 2017, amid reports Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant. Then, rumors spread that her pregnancy was the reason the show came to an end. But Spears officially addressed the rumors on Instagram over 10 years later in 2019, giving fans an inside glimpse into why she really quit acting for so many years.
“I just wanted to go home to Louisiana and finish high school, be a cheerleader, all that. Then I found out I was pregnant. I was 16. I’d had one boyfriend. It doesn’t make it perfect or all right. But I was judged for something that probably most everyone does. I was young. I was in love. I was like every other teenager, except I had this last name. And I made a decision that is forever my decision,” she said.
Now, though, she’s back on the Netflix series Sweet Magnolias (2020) this time, as an adult.
Many fans first fell in love with Amanda Bynes when she starred as the hilarious actress on the Nickelodeon TV shows All That and The Amanda Show, along with unforgettable movies such as She's The Man. Around 2010, Bynes began abusing Adderal, which led to mental health issues that prompted her to quit acting, which only made her substance abuse disorder spiral. Throughout her experience with substance abuse, Bynes had several public bouts of erratic behavior, mainly on Twitter. But, thankfully, she got sober in 2014.
She opened up about her experience to Paper Magazine in 2018, saying she is "really ashamed and embarrassed" by her actions during that difficult time in her life. "I can't turn back time but if I could, I would. And I'm so sorry to whoever I hurt and whoever I lied about because it truly eats away at me," she said. "It makes me feel so horrible and sick to my stomach and sad. Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I kind of ruined it all through Twitter."
Fortunately, the former child star turned her life around. Today, she doesn’t act (but is open to returning to the screen one day) and is a fashion student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in New York City.
Mary-Kate and Ashley
Beginning their careers playing Michelle Tanner on Full House from 1987 to 1995, Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen moved on to star in numerous movies, and TV shows, before they officially stopped acting in 2010. They’ve worked together all their lives, but aren’t planning on stopping their sisterly collab anytime soon. Today, the twins are respected clothing designers with their line, The Row.
In a 2013 interview with Allure, Mary-Kate and Ashley explained their move away from acting stemmed from the lack of control they felt they had over the end product. “There’s a lot of compromise in the entertainment industry,” Ashley said. Mary-Kate added, “I am not great at not being able to control the end product.”
From 2000 to 2006, Frankie Muniz played Malcolm in the hit family comedy show, Malcolm in the Middle. Yet when the show ended, rather than looking for more acting gigs, the actor decided to end his career at its height, and instead chose to pursue his dream a race car driver on the Atlantic Championship formula race circuit.
After suffering multiple concussions, Muniz experienced severe memory loss. In 2012, he even suffered a mini-stroke. "I felt like I was getting stabbed in the head — the worst headache you could ever think of. I couldn't see anything," he told People in December 2012. Now, because of his memory loss, Muniz struggles to remember his experience filming Malcolm in the Middle.
"Truth is, I don't remember much [of Malcolm in the Middle]," he said in a 2017 interview on Dancing with the Stars. "It almost feels like it wasn't me."
Best known for her childhood role in the 1990 movie, Matilda, Mara Wilson retired from acting at 13. Since then, she’s become an author, with one book, an autobiography titled, Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, about her experience as a child star.
Drake made his debut in the limelight as Jimmy in the iconic Canadian show Degrassi: The Next Generation, but the rapper always had his eye on music, even during the height of his acting career.
Drake told W Magazine in 2015, "That was part of the reason I was kicked off the show. Back then, I’d spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m.," he explained. "I’d sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life."
After starring on Degrassi from 2001 through 2009, Drake became one of the most successful pop stars in the world. But even if it's not necessarily with Degrassi, Drake still has a deep passion when it comes to acting on screen. “I can’t wait to get back into acting,” he told W Magazine. “No one ever asks me to do movies, and, although music is my focal point now, I’d love to do a film." It looks like the multi-talented superstar is making his goals a reality yet again and inching toward the world of acting, considering he is an executive producer on the popular HBO series, Euphoria.