For actresses, in particular, the entertainment business can be difficult once you start to get older. While actors often hit their stride in their late 30s, most actresses are playing moms by the time they’re 30, old news, ready to make room for the new generation. Sure, some actresses like Meryl Streep are able to survive and adapt, but they are the exception.
While not all these gorgeous actresses disappeared due to ageing, it is unfortunately, a large motivating factor. While many of them are still incredibly beautiful, Hollywood sells beauty AND youth, with very few roles available for women over 35. Other actresses, though, were just no longer interested in the glamour and lights of Hollywood, preferring to settle down with their families or to pursue other projects. If we had a few tens of millions saved up, who’s to say we wouldn’t do the same? This list covers just some of our favorite gorgeous actresses who fell off the face of the earth. There are many others that we could have put, and we’d love to hear who you think we missed.
15. Demi Moore
Demi Moore has had a complicated career. From being one of the top stars of the 1990s who went into semi-retirement, to the woman married to Bruce Willis only to trade him in for a younger, newer model in Ashton Kutcher. While Demi Moore has broken out of retirement at least a couple of times, she’s still mostly been out of the limelight. Her relationship with Ashton Kutcher had provided her another brief moment of fame, only to see her life dragged through the ringer once Kutcher was caught in a *cough* compromising situation, only to now be married to Mila Kunis. Demi Moore might still be hot, but she hasn’t been relevant for years. She does have a high-profile film in the works called Blind, where she is set to star alongside Alec Baldwin; let’s see if this can spark a second career renaissance for Demi.
14. Bridget Fonda
Tarantino fans are very familiar with the oh-so sexy Bridget Fonda, who won over hearts and passions in Jackie Brown. This California blonde is a part of Hollywood royalty, daughter of Peter Fonda, niece to Jane Fonda and granddaughter to Henry Fonda. But where did she go? In 2003 the actress was in a car crash where she sustained injuries to her head and spine and around the same time she got married to Danny Elfman (best known as Tim Burton‘s go-to composer). As good a time as any, she decided to step away from the movie industry to focus on her personal life and hasn’t appeared in a film except a handful of cameo appearances since 2001.
13. Alison Lohman
Fans know Alison Lohman, as the star of old school horror, Drag Me To Hell. A child actress who appeared in a number of projects in her teen, like Matchstick Men, White Oleander and Big Fish. While at one point she was working with some of the biggest actors and directors in Hollywood, she’s barely made a film since 2009, when she appeared in a small role in Gamer. Not only has she only appeared in two small indie films since then, she’s barely been seen in public since 2012. While there was never any official announcement, she seems to be semi-retired and extremely private. Her husband, co-director of Crank, and herself managed to keep her pregnancy and the birth secret – while her first child was born in 2010, they only announced it in 2011!
12. Fairuza Balk
Our goth dream-girl, Fairuza Balk was every alternative teen’s dreamgirl in the 1990s. Whether the romantic interest of Adam Sandler in The Waterboy or Queen Witch in The Craft, Fairuza was a 90s Goddess. So, where has she gone? She continues to act, though in smaller scale films and does a lot of voice work in video games and animated films, including Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. She also appears regularly in documentaries, talking about being involved in some of the greatest cult films of all time. While we still wish she acted more, she seems to really have things together, with a great passion for life.
11. Michelle Trachtenberg
Buffy fans know her as Dawn, the mysterious little sister who appeared in Season 4. Comedy fans know her as a precautious teen in EuroTrip. The last major role Michelle Trachtenberg had was a recurring part on Gossip Girl, which ended in 2012 (she’s only made guest appearances since then). Michelle, who just turned 30 last year, has been keeping a low profile in terms of roles, but has been keeping busy in her personal life. With an extremely active Instagram account, Michelle is always posting about her latest adventures, her cute selfies and her trips along the red carpet. As someone who found most of her success before turning 18, it’s possible that she’s taking a break to enjoy life and relive the childhood she maybe never had.
10. Mena Suvari
The red-hot actress who tempted Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, Mena Suvari was pegged early on to be the next big thing. While she has had a moderately successful career, she has never quite lived up to that promise, but at least has done better than her former co-star, Thora Birch. In the past few years she’s been doing very little acting, with her most high-profile appearance coming in an appearance on Inside Amy Schumer (where she played herself). Lately, Suvari has been devoting a lot of time to her philanthropy, as well as occasionally competing as a professional poker player.
9. Kim Basinger
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in the mid-1990s, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin were the ‘IT’ couple of Hollywood. Then things fell apart in an incredibly messy divorce that left both of their careers hanging by threads. While Baldwin has been able to find a second career renaissance from matinee idol to grizzled funny man, Basinger has not been so lucky. A former model and once one of the hottest women in the world, starring in films like LA Confidential and Batman, she’s since more or less settled as a supporting actress. While she still has some notable appearances (including an upcoming role in the Fifty Shades of Grey sequels), most people will struggle to remember the last time they saw her in a film.
8. Geena Davis
If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably had a crush on Geena Davis. One of the hottest redheads of all time, with an incredible voice, beautiful smile and personality for days, Davis was an icon of our youth. Starring in films like The Fly, Thelma and Louise, Beetlejuice and A League of Their Own, Davis was everywhere when we were kids. While she still makes TV appearances now and then, it does often seem like she’s more or less fallen off the face of the earth. Geena Davis though has been very busy the past decade setting up and running The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which focuses on bringing more diversity in front of and behind the screen.
7. Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan was America’s sweetheart appearing in every rom-com your girlfriend has ever made you watch. Charming, adorable and funny, she seemed to have it all. Sometime around the year 2000 though, the landscape of romantic comedies was changing as Judd Apatow started to emerge. Meg Ryan was also ageing, looking to break out from her old roles, while also avoid acting against type. Unfortunately for her, after getting some surgical enhancements, audiences turned away from her as she bared very little resemblance to the girl next door America fell in love with. While Meg Ryan continues to act, she’s been focusing more on raising her adoptive child and campaigning for environmental causes in the past decade.
6. Julia Stiles
Julia Stiles was the Teen Queen of the 90s, starring in beloved films like 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance. While she stayed in the public eye, largely because of her role in the Bourne series, her days as a leading lady are long gone. One of the most consistently busy actresses on this list, Julia Stiles has merely settled into a new stage of her career. She’s the mom, the sister, the friend, not the main character anymore, often giving the illusion that she has completely faded into obscurity. It seems entirely possible that Julia Stiles will once again make her way to the top with the right role.
5. Shannyn Sossamon
The mysterious and beautiful Shannyn Sossamon was our ultimate crush. Her dark hair, beautiful eyes and olive skin were so inviting. She starred in some of our favourite films of the 90s and early 2000s, like 40 Days and 40 Nights, A Knight’s Tale and The Rules of Attraction. While she still appears regularly on TV shows that our girlfriends love to watch (Sleepy Hollow and Wayward Pines), Shannyn seems even more mysterious now then when she was consistently playing that weird super hot girl in high school movies. In 2003, she put her acting on hold to start raising a child and making music.
4. Shannon Elizabeth
Impossibly hot, Shannon Elizabeth was an inspiration to many of us when she appeared in the American Pie movies as Nadia: that performance has secured her a permanent spot in our fantasies. While she has appeared in a number of other films and on the cover of Maxim, Shannon Elizabeth’s star has faded and she’s had very few notable roles in the past decade. She has been keeping busy though, and is considered one of the top celebrity poker players in the world. Shannon also works for a number of environmental and animal rights charities, devoting a lot of her time and energy to her philanthropy in the past few years.
3. Jessica Alba
For a few years, no matter where you looked it seemed that Jessica Alba would be staring you down from the poster of her newest movie. Even counting the disastrous Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it’s been a couple of years since Alba has been anything major. She’s played herself in Entourage, appeared in Little Fockers and little else. Alba still looks incredible for an older actress, so clearly age isn’t interfering with her casting, so what’s going on? Well, Jessica Alba has been hard at work for her company, The Honest Company, which was valued at $1.7 billion last year. While many of us envy the big pay cheques for movie stars, it seems Alba had even higher ambitions and is now focusing her attention on her lifestyle brand.
2. Catherine Zeta-Jones
For what it’s worth, we think that Catherine Zeta Jones might be the hottest actress to ever appear in movies. From Zorro to Chicago, this dark haired Welsh beauty is the complete package. She is an Oscar winner, and has appeared in some of the most beloved films of the past twenty years, so where is she? Catherine married the much older Michael Douglas in 2000, and since has had a few kids. She has also been struggling with her Bipolar II Disorder, which landed her in the hospital for nearly a week in 2011. Her marriage to Douglas also reportedly was on the rocks, in particular due to the actor’s comments about the unique source of his cancer. She still makes appearances in films now and then, but is not the huge star she once was.
1. Renée Zellweger
One of the reasons we always liked Renée Zellweger was that she seemed like the kind of girl you’d crush on at your local coffee shop or at work. She was pretty without being ostentatious, and could be genuinely hot in films like Me, Myself & Irene. An Oscar winner who helmed the beloved Bridget Jones franchise, she was literally on top of the world for the better part of a decade, until she nearly completely faded from public life. When she re-emerged recently, she looked nothing like her former self. Was it surgery? Makeup? Age? Whose to say, but with another follow-up to Bridget Jones in the works, maybe it’s time for Renée to make her comeback.