Every month, it seems another actor comes out and says they are planning on retiring, or switching to directing, or just taking a break, or whatever else it is that they say. The vast majority of these actors don’t end up changing a damn thing. After all, almost no one ever retires from acting anymore, unless your name is Gene Hackman or Sean Connery. The good ones typically choose to do fewer roles over the years until they get sick and/or die. The mediocre ones are forced to do fewer roles each year until they finally fade away into obscurity, or get sick and/or die. So, if everyone says they’re retiring but no one ever does, why do we freak out every time we hear news like this? Well, because what if this time they’re being serious?
All we can do is report what we hear. When an actor says they’re quitting, who are we to doubt them? They say it; we write; they reveal that they’re dirty rotten liars and we call them on it. It’s a relationship that’s been forged in the fires of love and respect. It may be a little dysfunctional, but what relationship isn’t? So, we’ve gone through and collected all the stories about actors who have hinted that they’re coming to the end of their acting ropes. Most are looking ahead slightly, so it’s tough to really nail down when exactly they plan on leaving it all behind or if they were just exhausted and drained at the time of the interview. That’s for you to judge.
So, in the spirit of freaking out, here are 15 Massive Movie Stars Who Want to Quit Acting.
15. Chris Evans
It was a couple of years ago that Chris Evans made a pretty startling announcement. Speaking of his future in the industry in a few years, he said, “If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing.” He went on to add, “I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.” Naturally, fans freaked the hell out when they heard this news. Since then, Evans has been nailed with questions about his impending retirement, so he’s done a bit of damage control. “By no means am I planning on retiring. It’s kind of a silly statement. But I certainly am going to try to focus a bit more on directing at this point.”
Okay, so where does that leave us? Well, Evans has at least three films on the docket for 2017 though 2019, then his Marvel contract is up. Should we expect him to go on with business as usual? No, not at all. Expect to see Evans take a bit of break from acting after Infinity War part 2 and get into directing. This change might only last a year, but we will be shocked to see him act in anything other than the second part of Infinity War in 2019.
14. Blake Lively
It was only just last year that Blake Lively came back from a two-year hiatus. Could she really be on the verge of another? Yeah, it seems like it. In 2016, Lively had a busy year with Café Society, The Shallows and All I See is You, but she has nothing on the go for 2017. It’s possible that she might continue this trend for some time. Work hard for a year or two and then take some years off. Considering that she just gave birth to her second daughter (with Ryan Reynolds), we expect 2017 to remain an open slate for her while she spends time with her new family member.
13. Michael Sheen
Now that he’s finished with Masters of Sex and Passengers, as well as two other films set for release in 2017, actor Michael Sheen says that he’s strongly considering leaving acting to focus on politics. All of this is in response to Trump’s win in the United States. Sheen said that he plans to fight the “hard populist right” by establishing some grassroots level organizations. In terms of his career, he said, “It means that I would work less as an actor, and possibly stop.” He did clarify that this is not a final decision, just something that he’s been working through.
12. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp has always been a bit of an oddball, but he’s been consistent about trying to stay out of the public eye. It was about three years ago that he announced his retirement was nearing. He wouldn’t exactly say when, but he did say, “Are there quieter things that I wouldn’t mind doing? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that… I wouldn’t say that I’m dropping out any second, but I would say that’s probably not too far away.” So, what happened since then? Well, he got married to Amber Heard, which seemed to invigorate him a bit, but then he separated from her not long after. Now his entire life is in the press and the critics are harder on him than they ever have been. Recently, we claimed that Depp is on the verge of a critical comeback, which we’re not backing down from. But, we are suggesting that the 53-year-old might not be long for this industry. He’s certainly got enough money to rest on his laurels should 2017 go as well for him as we think it might.
11. Matt Damon
It will only be for a year, but Matt Damon is taking a break to spend more time with his family. He explained how he has been “dragging” them around the world with him for the past several years, so it’s time to let them call the shots for a while. “They’re really good sports. They’re great travelers,” Damon said of his wife and their daughters. “But I’m excited to finish this year of work and take a year off and be at their behest for once.” We have to wonder how much of a “drag” it is to get to see the world and be stinking rich, but maybe Damon’s kids are too young to understand. Good on Matt for being a caring father though.
10. Brad Pitt
About five years ago, Brad Pitt told the world that there was a good chance that he would retire by 50. People rightly lost their minds, so Pitt clarified, saying, “I wasn’t actually putting an exact deadline on my expiration date, but I see it coming.” Today, at 53, Pitt looks like he’s still going strong, but don’t be so sure. The recent divorce between he and Angelina Jolie might be enough to give his career a surge into 2018, but we should expect that Pitt is going to be doing a lot less acting over the next few years. He’s not shied away from the fact that he loves the production side of film and is focusing a lot of energy on his production company right now anyways. We won’t seem him disappear completely, maybe ever in his career, but the Pitt who used to show up in numerous films each year is long gone.
9. Angelina Jolie
A couple of years ago, Angelina Jolie made it seem like she would never act again. She made it public that acting wasn’t something she loved, and she was really considering moving to directing and writing full time. “I’ve never been comfortable as an actor,” she said. “I’ve never loved being in front of the camera… I didn’t ever think I could direct, but I hope I’m able to have a career at it because I’m much happier.” Obviously, she has acted since then, but not a lot. With the exception of Maleficent 2, Jolie has no other plans to act in the future. She does, however, have First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers as a directorial credit in 2017 and plans to do other work as well. Like Pitt before her, don’t expect Jolie to leave acting altogether, but she might go years in between films in the next few years.
8. Jack Nicholson
It wasn’t that long ago that Jack Nicholson suggested he wasn’t done with acting, but that he just hadn’t found the right role lately. “The movie business is the greatest business but I only want to do films that move people, films about emotions and people,” he said. Now it’s been six years since he’s done a film and no filmmaker, big or small, has been able to lure him out of his newfound comfort zone. We don’t buy the rumors that he can’t remember his lines anymore either. We just think that Jack’s had a brilliant career and doesn’t want to sour the taste in our mouths with a series of poor choices at the end of it all. He might have one last hurrah in him, and we most dearly hope he does, but it’ll have to be a role that suits him perfectly. If someone ever writes a script about a lonely one-time Casanova coming to terms with old age, give him a ring. By the sounds of it, that might be something he’d be interested in reading.
7. Helen Mirren (Theater)
Helen Mirren is not, we repeat, NOT, retiring from film acting, but she does plan on quitting the theater work that she’s done off and on throughout her career. “Theatre is always nerve-racking. I’m afraid of losing my voice, having enough energy, and not getting sick,” she said. “Every actor has stage fright, but there are levels, from serious psychotic breakdown, where you lock yourself in your dressing room and refuse to come out. It’s happened to a few actors. Not me, but when I’m on stage I see the abyss and have to overcome it by telling myself it’s only a play.” That being said, Mirren went on to say that she doesn’t intend on “dying on the job,” so her theater days are behind her.
6. Jackie Chan
No one would ever dare say that Jackie Chan is only good in action roles, but, for Chan himself, action is something that has always driven him forward. Today, he’s regarded as one of the greatest action stars of all time, but he’s also in his 60s. A couple of years ago, Chan announced that he was finished with BIG action films. “My knee, my shoulder and my back, it’s not like it used to be, getting slower and hurting,” he said. “Every time I do a stunt, especially when you go home, the next morning, then you realize wow, it so hurts. Somehow my body would tell myself how much I should slow down. Now my body tells me to slow down thirty percent and probably in another two years, twenty more, now fifty percent. So slowly, slowly then I will tell the whole world, stop doing action.” But Chan’s got six films slated for 2017 and about 5 other films announced, so when’s the stop going to happen? We don’t know, but we do know that when it does, don’t expect to see Chan wasting away in dramas. When he can no longer perform the action he loves so dearly, he’ll call it quits and live on happily as one of the best there ever was.
5. Joe Pesci
He’s already been semi retired for years, so it shouldn’t come as a big shock that Joe Pesci is close to officially calling it quits. For years now, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have been trying to pull him back in to do one final film with the three of them. Finally, Pesci relented and the three will be filming The Irishman soon. So, what happens after that? Probably nothing. We expect that Pesci will go back to semi-retirement or make an announcement that he’s done for good. It’s clear that he no longer has the same desire for the industry that he once had, so why not go out with the two guys who you did your best work with? That being said, we will miss you Joe.
4. Goldie Hawn
The saddest news about Goldie Hawn making a comeback to films is that we have to say goodbye to her all over again when it’s over. Somehow, Amy Schumer was able to convince Hawn to come back to film for the first time since 2002’s The Banger Sisters. “I met her on an airplane a couple of years ago and told her there’s a movie I really want to make with her,” Schumer recalled. “And she was very nice. ‘OK, honey.’ She probably thought I was a psycho. ‘OK, crazy person.'” But Schumer was being honest and now the film, Snatched, is being made. Great, right? Hawn’s back for good! No chance. This might be enough to keep her interested in film for a year or two, but Hawn will leave us again for the cushy retirement lifestyle.
3. Emma Watson
Most of the stars on this list are at least middle-aged, but not Emma Watson. She wants to retire right as she’s in prime film star age. The reason? Feminism. No, seriously. She want’s to be more involved with feminism. Here’s exactly what she said: “I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really,” she said. “My own personal development is one… my own personal task is to read a book a week, and also to read [another] book a month as part of my book club. I’m doing a huge amount of reading and study just on my own.” She went on to explain, “I’m on my journey with this and it might change, but I can tell you that what is really liberating and empowering me through being involved in feminism is that … so much of the self-critiquing is gone.”
2. Michael Fassbender
It was a week before Christmas and all the house was the sound of children crying because Michael Fassbender announced that he’s taking a “long” break from acting. “It’s been pretty full on. I had a ferocious appetite and energy for it, and I went at it like a maniac,” he said. “But I’m going to take some downtime now.” OH NO! How long? Is this for good? Are you retiring officially? To these question, Fassbender said, “I’m not ruling it out. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but a part of me thinks you have a time as an actor when you’re at your best… There’s a journey to it, and then it’s downhill.” So clearly Fassbender wants to go out on top. Basically, we just have to pray that Assassin’s Creed is a flop, so he won’t leave us.
1. Robert Redford
The legend Robert Redford is the most recent in a long line of actors to announce their retirement, but, for some reason, we actually believe this one. In an interview with his grandson, Redford said he’s been considering doing other things, like painting, “a lot lately because I’m getting tired of acting”. He continued, “I’m an impatient person, so it’s hard for me to sit around and do take after take after take. At this point in my life, age 80, it’d give me more satisfaction because I’m not dependent on anybody. It’s just me, just the way it used to be, and so going back to sketching—that’s sort of where my head is right now.” He said that, after he completes the two films that he’s currently working on, Our Souls at Night and The Old Man and the Gun, he’s gone. “Once they’re done then I’m going to say, ‘Okay, that’s goodbye to all that,’” he said. “And then just focus on directing.”