Hollywood is notorious for being a cut-throat industry where dreams die just as quickly as the latest pop-culture hookup. While many actors find great success within their acting careers, not every actor is in it for the long-haul, well until they grow to regret it of course.
No matter the reason, whether it’s the pressure of fame, or a downhill spiral of a childhood acting career, many celebrities decide to quit Hollywood for one reason or another. However, after turning their back on the industry, they eventually begin to feel remorse for their decision to leave behind the life that once filled them with fame and fortune. In return, they try their hardest to make a comeback that launches them back to the A-list status they once possessed. But not all actors are able to make it back on top.
With every actor in Hollywood only as good as the next one, the pressure is on to revive a career long after they have regretted their decision to quit. Take a look at these 15 stars who have left Hollywood behind only to regret their life-changing choice.
Raven-Symone made her first television appearance when she starred as the adorable Olivia Kendall on the hit family sitcom, The Cosby Show. From there, Raven was the star of numerous successful shows and the Billboard top charts with a number of released singles throughout her short music career. Following her run on That’s So Raven, the former Disney Channel star made a transition to the silver screen by appearing in young-adult audience based films that found mild success. However, by the end of 2011, the thirty-one-year-old actress had no roles lined up to fill her resume and essentially disappeared from Hollywood and the public eye. But her retirement commenced after only a few years when she stepped back in front of the camera when she joined The View as a co-host. Much in part due to the trend of shows being revived with spin-offs, Raven announced in 2016 that she would be reprising her role as Raven Baxter on an unnamed Disney Channel project.
14. Cole Sprouse
After being dubbed one of the wealthiest children alive in 2007, Cole Sprouse and his identical twin brother, Dylan, took Hollywood by storm. Appearing alongside famous actors such as Adam Sandler since a young age, Sprouse became a desired actor in the industry and in return, his bank accounts skyrocketed. With many film experience in his back pocket, the twenty-four-year-old signed on to appear with his twin on the hit Disney Channel show, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, when he was just a pre-teen. After their long run on the franchise show, Sprouse and his brother quit Hollywood to study at New York University. Despite the four-year break with their career, the former Disney star confirmed his return to the industry when he signed on to appear in The CW’s new teen series, Riverdale. He must have been reminded that Hollywood offered him such a “suite” life.
13. Frankie Muniz
In the early 2000s, Frankie Muniz was a heartthrob that had a large following of fangirls. The shows and movies he starred in proved that he was living an exciting life for a teenager, as he rubbed shoulders with multiple infamous stars. But after an impressive run in Hollywood, Muniz slowly began to fade from the notorious city. During his time away from the camera, the actor focused on pursuing a professional racing career, which ended in 2009. With no long-term career on the track and a brief music stint, it was obvious to Muniz that he needed to return to his abandoned career in film. Unfortunately, his return was easier said than done, for the thirty-one-year-old has only managed to snag small roles or cameo appearances since attempting to make a return.
12. Kirstie Alley
Look who’s back in Hollywood now! Easily regarded as one of the most popular actresses of the 90s, Kirstie Alley was racking up her resume with film and television shows alike. The Look Who’s Talking star won various awards for her acting abilities, including an Emmy and Golden Globe award for her work on Cheers. After finding success in front of the camera, Alley left acting behind her and began producing several shows and appearing on multiple reality shows. Which turned out to be a regrettable decision with the lack of accomplishments her productions received. Her 2011 appearance on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, was just enough to bring her back into the limelight. With the help of the dancing competitive show, which is infamous for having guests that were former Hollywood starlets, Alley was able to make her return to the city of fame and fortune.
11. Tamera Mowry
Hollywood is a great place for seeing double. Twin actors are in high-demand, much like Tia and Tamera Mowry were when they were younger. The identical twins found great fame when their show, Sister, Sister, became a network hit for the ABC/WB. After the end of their hit sitcom, the sisters went on to star in several television films. Following a short run on television, Tamera took a long break from acting, while her sister Tia, landed a main role on the show, The Game. Unable to find a stable role and guilty about stepping away from the industry during the height of her career, Mowry returned to television once again in 2011 alongside her twin in the Style Network reality-type series, Tia & Tamera. Since then, she grabbed small roles on various television sitcoms before landing a full-time gig on the talk show, The Real, a great place among other former Hollywood stars who also regrettable left Hollywood after one-hit wonder shows and movies.
10. Meg Ryan
Back in her prime acting days, Meg Ryan was respectfully crowned as one of America’s sweethearts for her ability to melt hearts with her appearance in numerous romantic comedies throughout her career. The When Harry Met Sally actress began her career in 1981, but quickly rose to fame when she established herself as one of the industry’s most successful actresses in the 1990s and early 2000s. Despite the fame and accomplishing screen credits, Ryan quit Hollywood when she decided to move across the country for a quieter life in New York. Following her move, the fifty-five-year-old actress faded from the spotlight but must have regretted her absence from film industry when she re-emerged in 2015 to direct and act in the drama, Ithaca, which also starred her son, Jack Quaid.
9. Jodie Sweetin
After several years portraying the lovable Stephanie Tanner on the popular Full House series, Jodie Sweetin appeared to have had it all; money, fame, a growing resume. However, the blonde actress left it all behind to live a normal life. But unfortunately her attempt at having an un-Hollywood life meant engaging in underage drinking and using illegal substances. For many years following her side ponytail days, Sweetin was getting high on drugs instead of rising to the top of Hollywood’s A-list. After hitting rock-bottom, the actress not only regretted her lifestyle choices, but also her decision to quit acting. Thankfully for Sweetin, the former actress and her “How rude!” tag line were gifted the opportunity to make a comeback when Netflix launched a spin-series entitled, Fuller House. Now Sweetin’s only regret is wearing neon spandex.
8. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan illustrated great potential during the early years of her career when she starred alongside Dennis Quaid in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. But it’s more apparent than ever that the Lohan’s early days held much more promise than what was to come in the actor’s personal life. On the heels of several legal issues, rehab, and brief jail time, the thirty-year-old actress ultimately quit Hollywood. Despite a handful of extremely successful blockbuster hits such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday, Lohan’s acting ability took quite the hit with her inability to persuade audiences that she was more serious than she appeared to be. With embarrassing roles and cringe-worthy line delivery, the actress has greatly struggled to get back on top of Hollywood’s casting lists amid her attempts to reverse the remorse she feels for exchanging her blossoming film career for drugs and alcohol.
7. Elizabeth Hurley
All hail the queen! The beautiful English actress and model has been turning heads since she made her film appearance in 1987. With Elizabeth Hurley’s rising career and high profile relationship with her former boyfriend, actor Hugh Grant, she quickly became a beloved addition to Hollywood. Despite being dubbed as Grant’s girlfriend of over a decade, she was able to prove she was more than just his arm candy when she graced the silver screen in multiple films. However, in 2005, she decided to stop filming movies in order to focus her attention on motherhood and raise her now, fourteen-year-old son, Damian. After many years away from La La Land, Hurley returned to acting and starred in several movie and television shows. The former model is now back in her motherland of England where she stars as Queen Helena in the hit E! News scripted series, The Royals.
6. Dave Chappelle
With his sketch comedy television series, Chappelle’s Show, Dave Chappelle skyrocketed his comedy career and quickly became a household name overnight. His Comedy Central show parodied many societal and cultural aspects such as politics, pop culture news, and racial stereotypes. But things derailed in 2004 when Chappelle became furious with the audience and walked off stage at a stand-up performance, due to the crowd continuously yelling his Rick James skit tagline. His diva moment ultimately lead to the cancellation of the show and his separation from Hollywood. With an almost decade-long absence, the comedian reversed his regrettable decision to quit the business and returned in 2015 and went on to host an episode of Saturday Night Live the following year.
5. Freddie Prinze Jr.
The late 90s and early 2000s were undeniably complete with Freddie Prinze Jr. gracing the both the silver and television screens. The She’s All That actor’s acting chops and equally charming looks were the perfect mixture for a romantic-comedy lead, and of course his wife, fellow actress Sarah Michelle Geller, agreed. However, Prinze Jr. surprised many when he took a noticeable absence from the industry in order to focus on his family and be a stay-at-home dad to his young son and daughter. With his time away from Hollywood, the Summer Catch actor spends time behind the camera by writing for the World Wrestling Entertainment and doing light voice acting work. After many years away from film, Prinze Jr. returned to his acting career with small television roles. Today, the father of two spends his time in the kitchen to perfect recipes in his newly released cookbook.
4. Amanda Bynes
From her early start as a child comedian on Nickelodeon, it was evident that Amanda Bynes had a bright future ahead of her. Her headlining series, The Amanda Show, was a catalyst in launching an accomplishing run in Hollywood. However, the What a Girl Wants actress suffered the fate of just about every other child star in the industry: the mighty fall. In 2012, Bynes’ legal issues began with first a DUI and then later on with drug possession. Her issues then quickly escalated when she was hospitalized and received special treatment for an apparent mental disorder. Prior to her breakdown, the actress quit acting following her role in the 2010 film, Easy A. However, her very vocal and bizarre social media presence clearly illustrates the regret she has for abandoning her career, with her need to stay relevant in the public eye.
3. Mayim Bialik
Who said actors weren’t smart? Because that clearly isn’t the case for former child actress Mayim Bialik. After spending four years playing Blossom Russo in NBC’s Blossom, Bialik dabbled in various successful film and television projects before leaving Hollywood behind in order to pursue her academics. The actress attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies. Following her undergrad, Bialik focused the research for her PhD on obsessive compulsive disorder. Despite her plans to leave the film industry behind for good and pursue a career as a research professor, that all changed when she married and had children, for that path didn’t allow her to spend as much time with her young family. That decision was enough to pull her back into acting and the world of television when she landed a role on The Big Bang Theory.
2. Neil Patrick Harris
Best known for his role as the child prodigy doctor in Doogie Howser, M.D., Neil Patrick Harris proved his impressive acting abilities when his role earned him a Golden Globe nomination. From then on, NPH had several roles in various television shows and films before leaving behind Hollywood and his impressive acting resume. But his break didn’t last too long for the comedian returned to film when he starred in the off-the-wall stoner comedy movie, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. On the heels of his return, Harris began booking an array of projects and found home in 2005 when he portrayed the role of Barney Stinson in the comedy series, How I Met Your Mother. In 2011, the actor landed an impressive gig hosting the 65th Tony Awards, for three consecutive years.
1. Josh Harnett
While his face was clearly made for the big screen, Josh Hartnett struggled to identify if acting was really for him. Never being shy about experiencing his ill feelings towards Hollywood, the Pearl Harbor actor took a break from acting and La La Land in order to reevaluate his life’s direction and his acting career. However, Harnett’s break didn’t last long for he returned to his roots and continued to star in a number of indie films and television series. The feeling of unhappiness that he once felt appears not to be an issue now, for the thirty-eight-year-old actor has since been able to make an impressive career in Hollywood for himself. While not many actors have had the same success of returning to the camera following their withdrawal from the industry, Hartnett’s sheer determination and acting chops was a mixture that couldn’t be denied.
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