There are famous faces in Hollywood that have been around for decades and that we have become so accustomed to seeing in the limelight. Sometimes, though, famous stars in the spotlight seem to vanish into thin air, leaving us wondering what happened to them. There are various reasons for this with some celebrities wanting a change in career, a more peaceful life, or even to raise their own family.
Things usually move so fast in Hollywood that we sometimes don’t notice the absence of a star as they are being replaced so rapidly with new faces. However, this list looks at some of those stars we haven’t seen around in a long time as we try to figure out whatever became of them and what they are up to right now.
15. Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis is commonly considered one of the best method actors of all time due to the extensive research and depth by which he dives into his roles. The star has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007), and Lincoln (2012). However, since Lincoln back in 2012, it seems we haven’t seen or heard from the actor at all. If you are wondering why, well then, the answer is very simple. In 2013, Lewis announced that he would be taking a five-year sabbatical from acting in which he would focus on his family and pursue personal interests, including learning rural skills such as stonemasonry. But true to his word, five years later, the star is set to return to the big screen later this year with a drama set in the London fashion industry during the 1950’s.
14. Mara Wilson
The next Hollywood vanishing act on our list comes in the form of Mara Wilson. Mara was having the most tremendous acting career as a young child starring in the likes of Matilda, Miracle on 34th Street, and Mrs Doubtfire. However, one day, she decided that perhaps acting just wasn’t for her after all. Talking on her blog back in 2012, Mara explained to fans and to the world in general why we no longer see her in the spotlight. “Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun,” she wrote. “Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you “get it right” does not allow for very much creative freedom … In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater.” Leaving acting behind, Mara went on to focus on her studies and even graduated in 2009 from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While at New York University, she appeared in her own one-woman show called Weren’t You That Girl.
13. Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan was the queen of the big screen at one stage, starring in huge movies that still remain popular to this day such as Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. Nevertheless, since those movies, it seems as if the star has dwindled away from Hollywood to a point where we haven’t thought about her in quite some time. Many have claimed the reason Ryan’s career has not been great for a while now is down to a number of different factors including poor role choices and numerous relationship dramas. However, it is likely that the real reason may be that Ryan has since become tired of acting and has opted for a more meaningful laid-back life. Back in 2013, a close friend of the actress, Delia Ephron, stated, “Los Angeles is just about movies. New York is about so much more than that, and so is Meg.” It’s possible that Ryan chose a quieter life in New York over Hollywood, in order to focus on her personal relationships and raising her daughter, Daisy, who is now twelve.
12. Gene Hackman
It’s been over 13 years since we last saw Gene Hackman appear in a movie (2004’s Welcome to Mooseport) and since then, this point stated that we most likely won’t be seeing him in anymore in the future. Hackman has chosen to turn his back on the acting world and in recent times, has focused more on his career as a novelist. He went on a book tour back in 2008 to promote Escape from Andersonville, a novel he’d co-written with Daniel Lenihan. Since this point, the former actor has stated in numerous interviews that he has stopped working in the film business, so we can take from this that Hackman’s vanishing from Hollywood was completely his own choice. It’s clear that the two-time Oscar winner is still putting his creative side to great use and in 2014, his second book, Pursuit, was released.
11. Bridget Fonda
In the 1980’s, Bridget Fonda was viewed as being one of Hollywood’s most promising actresses. How could she miss it? She comes from Hollywood royalty as the daughter of Peter Fonda, the niece of Jane Fonda, and granddaughter of the legendary Henry Fonda. In the ‘90s, just when we thought Fonda’s career was about to go huge, she seemed to completely disappear. This may seem very confusing but there is actually quite a simple explanation, and that is that Fonda simply decided to walk away from Hollywood. Fonda chose to walk away from her career to start a family with Danny Elfman and to focus on living a more fame-free life. Nevertheless, the star will always remain credited for her roles in movies such as Jackie Brown, Single White Female, and Point of no Return.
10. Kevin Jonas
Kevin Jonas is known for being the oldest member of the hugely-recognized pop band, the Jonas Brothers. Ever since the beloved JoBros called it quits in 2012, it seems as if we haven’t heard a peep from Kevin. We all know that Nick went on to pursue acting and a solo music career, and that Joe has had great success with his band, DNCE. But where does this leave Kevin? Well, way back in 2009, the eldest brother got married to Danielle Deleasa, and has been keeping his distance from the spotlight in the years since. On top of this, Kevin is now the co-CEO of The Blu Market, a marketing company that focuses on expanding a company’s social reach. So, it appears as if the former teen heartthrob has chosen a quieter traditional life rather than one being famous. Kevin and Danielle welcomed their first child, a daughter named Alena Rose Jonas, on February 2, 2014, and in 2016, the couple announced via Instagram that they were expecting their second child together. Their second daughter, Valentina Angelina Jonas, was born on October 27, 2016.
9. Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson has perhaps had one of the most successful acting careers Hollywood has ever seen. The actor’s career has spanned an incredible 60 years, leaving the talented star with 12 Academy Awards nominations. Nicholson has won the Oscar for Best Actor twice, one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). This means that Nicholson is one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards. However, after a seven-year hiatus, Nicholson announced earlier this year that he would retire from acting entirely. It’s obvious that Nicholson’s absence in Hollywood for the last number of years was most likely due to the fact that the actor was taking some time out after having such a tremendous career under his belt. Now that Nicholson has retired at the age of 80, he can enjoy this even more.
8. Rick Moranis
Rick Moranis was the King of comedy acting in the 1980’s, appearing in a string of hits, including Ghostbusters, Streets Of Fire, Little Shop Of Horrors, Spaceballs, Parenthood, and the Honey I Shrunk The Kids franchise. However, as the years went by, Moranis’ career seemed to dry up a little and six years after his wife’s passing, the star decided to finally call it quits and work on raising his kids as a single father. Although Moranis does spontaneously pop up here and there for a rare cameo appearance on screen, the actor has all but retired from Hollywood and his days as a leading funnyman appear to be over. Speaking about it all, Moranis stated, “The decision on my case to become a stay-at-home-Dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of make-a-living existence and decided I needed to spend more time at home. Nobody would pay attention to it, because I came from celebrity and fame and what was the peak of a career, that was intriguing to people.”
7. Jennifer Grey
The ’80s were a great time for actress Jennifer Grey, as she appeared in two iconic movies—Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, opposite Matthew Broderick, and Dirty Dancing, opposite the late Patrick Swayze. Both these movies, to this day, remain very successful and popular. However, Grey has not remained so popular. In truth, this was as successful as the star’s career was ever going to be. So, what exactly happened? Many individuals believe that a nose job Grey had done in the ’90s is ultimately what ended her career. The actress became unrecognizable to many fans and things were just never the same for the actress. Although Grey is no longer a huge Hollywood actress, she has not completely shunned the limelight from her life, as in 2010 she won Dancing with the Stars and is currently appearing in a web series called Red Oaks.
6. Hayden Christensen
At one point during the 2000’s, Hayden Christensen was expected to be the “next big thing.” Christensen gained international recognition for his portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars series. Despite this, as the series continued, it appeared to be having a more negative than positive effect on the actor’s career. Unfortunately, the star received numerous Razzies for his part in the movies, including the Worst Supporting Actor for both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Many believe the series ruined the actor’s status as an up-and-coming megastar then. Christensen did not give up on acting completely at this point, though, as he went on to star in Awake, opposite Jessica Alba, and Jumper, opposite Rachel Bilson. But both movies did end up flopping. With all this considered, the actor unsurprisingly decided to take a step back from Hollywood and these days, is more focused on his family and his daughter, Briar Rose.
5. Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell is probably most recognized for having portrayed the lead role in the cult horror movie franchise, Scream. However, it’s hard to think if we can remember the actress appearing in anything since. But, what exactly happened to the actress? Many argue that the Scream movies were the only thing keeping Campbell’s career afloat, and without them, the star simply struggled to find her place in other roles within Hollywood. It was almost as if Campbell was a victim of her own success, and like so many other cases, she could not be separated from such a successful franchise. These days, the actress can be found focusing more on her family. Campbell herself stated, “Becoming a mother is a beautiful experience and it makes other things far less important.” It’s clear that Campbell realized that there are more important things in life than being caught up in Hollywood.
4. Kelly McGillis
Next on this list is actress Kelly McGillis, who, after appearing in Top Gun opposite Tom Cruise, seemed set to have a lengthy and promising career ahead. But, it appears as if just the opposite happened for the star. Since the ’80s, we haven’t really heard from McGillis at all and are left to wonder what exactly became of the star. In the years that followed her Top Gun appearance, McGillis went on to marry Fred Tillman, a rich yacht salesman. In 1989, they spent six months sailing around the Caribbean, then moved to Key West, Florida to open her own restaurant called Kelly’s. However, this image of domestic bliss was soon shattered, and after a string of failed relationships, McGillis finally came out as a lesbian. These days, the actress says she is “exceedingly happy” living in the countryside with her partner, Mel Leis.
3. Shirley Temple
If one were to describe Shirley Temple as the most influential and famous child star of all time, it would be very hard to refute. Shirley began her acting career when she was no more than three years old in 1932. When she was four years old, just one year later, the young starlet received international praise and recognition for her role in Bright Eyes. Just one more year, Shirley’s star continued to rise when she received a Juvenile Academy Award for the movies Heidi and Curly Top which were both box office smash hits. It seemed as if each year, the star’s career could only get bigger and bigger. However, by the time she reached her teens, the actress was not appearing in any movies at all. And in 1950, she announced that she would retire from acting completely. Shirley was just 22 years old at the time, the same age as many actors just getting their first role. So, what did Shirley do from that point on? Shirley chose the Diplomatic Service and also achieved success in this career, and even became the 18th United States Ambassador to Ghana.
2. Jack Gleeson
You will recognize Jack Gleeson as having played the part of the evil King Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones. But after season 4 of the hit show ended, not only did Joffrey disappear off our screens but we haven’t seen Jack Gleeson since. There is a reason for this, though, and it’s not that the actor is no longer being cast. It’s that he’d rather not be. Back in 2014, Gleeson stated, “The answer isn’t interesting or long-winded. I’ve been acting since age 8. I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to. When you make a living from something, it changes your relationship with it. It’s not like I hate it, it’s just not what I want to do.” So, there you have it, Gleeson went on to study for a short stint in Trinity College Dublin, but later stated that he had “gone off that idea.” Gleeson hasn’t returned to the acting world entirely, but in 2015, he appeared in the puppetry show Bears in Space, created by his theater company, Collapsing Horse. In mid-2016, the show premiered in New York. Does this mean Gleeson may think about making a comeback to big screens in the future? Well, only time will tell.
1. Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo’s acting debut is quite the rags-to-riches story. Garbo grew up in a Stockholm slum and got into acting accidentally after a film director discovered her in a local department store. Flash to the 1930’s and Garbo was an acting icon captivating audiences with her dazzling displays on the big screen. Even in the height of her fame, Garbo was not one to enjoy the spotlight unless it was when she was actually acting. This meant that the star refused to go along with the norms of celebrity life. Garbo refused to sign autographs, take part in interviews, often ignored fans, and regularly shunned award ceremonies, including the 1955 Academy Awards where she was to be honored with an Oscar. The actress explained in a rare interview, “I feel able to express myself only through my roles, not in words, and that is why I try to avoid talking to the press.” At the age of 36, Garbo announced to the world that she would retire from acting temporarily. However, this was far from temporary retirement as it lasted 49 years until her death in 1990. This story makes Garbo one of the most prominent cases of a star vanishing away from the Hollywood limelight.