Celebrities Who Retired From Acting Early

Jordan Claes
Freddie Prinze Jr. cooking in the kitchen.
instagram | @realfreddieprinze

For many people, the idea of becoming a professional actor in Hollywood is literally the stuff that dreams are made of. But for some, those dreams can quickly turn into nightmares.

Not everyone is cut out to be an actor and not everyone wants to be famous. To get a better idea of what I'm referring to, have a look below and check out these celebrities who retired from acting early.

Portia de Rossi

Portia de Rossi holding her little dog.
instagram | @portiaderossi

“I called Mitch Hurwitz, who’s the creator of Arrested Development and I said, ‘If there is a season 5, I won’t be doing it because I quit acting.' And he seemed really understanding and he totally got it," Portia told her wife, Ellen DeGeneres.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'.
Paramount Vantage | Paramount Vantage

When it was announced that three-time Oscar winner, Daniel Day-Lewis, was retiring from acting, nobody wanted to believe it. Day-Lewis went on record, stating that it was a private decision — one which he plans on adhering to.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Michelle Tanner saying "You got it, dude!"

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are best known for portraying Michelle Tanner in the iconic family sitcom, Full House. They quit acting very early on in their careers in order to focus on building their fashion empire.

Peter Ostrum

Charlie Bucket in 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory'.
Paramount Pictures | Paramount Pictures

Peter Ostrum famously portrayed young Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was the first and only film the young star ever appeared in. Since then, Ostrum has gone on to become a veterinarian.

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan with curly 80s hair
Giphy | MGM Studios

"I was living these express-lane lives," Ryan said during a candid interview with The New York Times. "I didn't feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated."

Terrence Howard

During an interview with Extra in 2019, Terrence was asked what he planned to do once Empire had run its course. He replied that he was finished with acting and done with pretending to be something (and someone) he is not.

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz dancing.

"When you’re making a movie, they own you. For months on end, you have no time for anything else," Cameron said in an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow. "I had to basically take it back and take responsibility for my own life."

Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson in 'Matilda'.
Sony Pictures | Sony Pictures

Mara Wilson was the adorable child star of Matilda as well as Mrs. Doubtfire, opposite Robin Williams. She stepped away from acting in her teen years, after growing tired of how the media was constantly chastising her physical appearance.

Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman in 'The Royal Tenenbaums'.
Giphy | The Good Films

Gene Hackman is an Oscar-winning actor and the star of iconic films, such as The French Connection and Unforgiven. He announced his retirement back in 2004 and has since begun a new career as a published author.

Johnathan Taylor Thomas

Johnathan Taylor Thomas turning on the water in 'Man Of The House'.

During an interview with Premiere magazine, JTT said "The industry is neurotic and weird, and so when I go home and I play basketball with my friends, I'm not Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I'm just Jonathan. I don't like hanging out with other actors and actresses."

Sean Connery

Sean Connery was a true Hollywood legend, who left the world of acting far too soon. He was rumored to appear in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, but couldn't be convinced to leave the trappings of retirement.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow biting her finger.

Were it not for the fact that Gwyneth has become a proverbial maven of the business world, she might very well still be in front of the camera. She's said that the only way in which she'd return to the big screen would be if her husband, Brad Falchuk, wrote the script.

Angus T. Jones

Jake Harper in 'Two And A Half Men'.

Angus portrayed the dim-witted Jake Harper on Two and a Half Men. As a teenager, he decided to quit the show (and acting as a whole), claiming that his role and profession were at odds with his religious beliefs.

Jack Gleeson

King Joffrey and Tyrion Lannister in 'Game Of Thrones'.

Game of Thrones fans will forever associate Jack Gleeson with the cruel and vile King Joffrey. He retired at the absolute height of his career and claimed to have completely fallen out of love with the idea of acting professionally.

Freddie Prinze Jr.

Freddie Prinze Jr. playing a board game.
instagram | @realfreddieprinze

Freddie Prinze Jr. was not only an incredibly talented young actor but a proverbial sex symbol to boot. After appearing in '90s classics such as She's All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer, Freddie quietly stepped away from acting to pursue his dream of becoming a professional chef.