Celebs who quit Hollywood from Cameron Diaz to Back To The Future star – and what they've been up to since

MOST people spend their lives dreaming of being a Hollywood star – but it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be.

Andrew Garfield is the latest actor to retire from the limelight to “be a bit ordinary for a while,” after having just been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his turn in Tick, Tick…Boom!

But the Spiderman star isn’t the first person to choose another life, after growing tired of the fame.

From child stars who shot to fame in Matilda and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to huge names like Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day Lewis, we reveal what happened once these actors quit Hollywood…

Cameron Diaz

Having shot to fame in There’s Something About Mary in 1998, Cameron Diaz was once one of the most sought-after actresses around.

But she hasn’t been in anything since Annie in 2014, after choosing to step away from her career in order to make her life more “manageable” and focus on her husband, Benji Madden, and their two-year-old daughter Raddix.

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She told Kevin Hart on his podcast: “When you do something at a really high level for a long period of time” other parts of you have “to sort of be handed off to other people.”

She added that around the age of 40 she started to realise that there were “so many parts of my life…that I wasn’t touching and that I wasn’t managing.”

The former actress has no regrets, and said that ever since that change, “I feel whole,” and she suddenly has time for “all those things I didn’t have time for before.” 

She also told Michelle Visage on her podcast that she looks like a "wild beast" these days.

Cameron said: "I am absolutely a victim to all of the societal objectifications and exploitations that women are subjected to. I have bought into all of them myself at certain times.

"It's hard not to, it's hard not to look at yourself and judge yourself against other markers of beauty, and I think that that's one of the biggest things, the last eight years girl… I’m like wild, I’m like a wild animal, I’m a beast."

Rick Moranis

Rick Moranis was a household name in comedy through the mid-Nineties, thanks to roles in Ghostbusters and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

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But his Hollywood costume designer wife Ann Belsky died of breast cancer in 1991 and he was forced to focus on parenting their young children.

In 2015, he told the Hollywood Reporter: "I pulled out of making movies in about '96 or '97. I'm a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the travelling involved in making movies. 

“So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn't miss it.

“In the last few years I've been offered a number of parts in movies, and I've just turned them down.”

In his time off, Rick has “done a lot of parenting,” but also had various voice roles – and even appeared briefly in an advert with Ryan Reynolds in 2020.

And it’s been widely reported that he’ll be starring in a reboot of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, called Shrunk – with Frozen’s Josh Gad playing his grown-up son who shrinks his own children.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox is best known for playing the time-travelling teen Marty McFly in the Back To The Future films.

But in 2000, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, at the age of 29, he quit show business and retired from his TV show Spin City.

He had some roles after that in shows like Scrubs and The Good Wife, but in 2020, he revealed he was quitting acting all together.

"There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday and memorising seven pages of dialogue is best behind me," he wrote in his memoir, No Time Like the Future.

Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis is the only actor ever to have won three Oscars, so it was a shock when he announced he’d be quitting in 2017. 

After his announcement, the method actor explained that his final film Phantom Thread left him feeling sad and overwhelmed.

 He told W Magazine: “Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting.

“I do know that [the writer and director] Paul Thomas Anderson and I laughed a lot before we made the movie. And then we stopped laughing because we were both overwhelmed by a sense of sadness. 

“That took us by surprise. We didn’t realise what we had given birth to. It was hard to live with. And still is.”

Daniel is now working as a dressmaker, having taken inspiration from his final film.

Amanda Bynes

Amanda Bynes was one of the biggest stars in the early 200s, having had her own hit show on Nickelodeon and starred in the likes of Hairspray and What I Like About You.

But, in 2011, she announced on Twitter that she was quitting acting.

She later admitted it was after she watched herself opposite Emma Stone in her final film, Easy A.

Amanda told Paper in 2018: “I literally couldn’t stand my appearance in that movie, and I didn’t like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it.”

Since then, Amanda has had many public breakdowns, but is now focusing on her mental health and sobriety.

She has been sober for more than four years, but is unlikely to make a return to acting any time soon.

Amanda’s lawyer David Esquibias told Page Six she “is not residing in a sober living facility [but is instead] sheltering in a safe location and is doing very well.”

Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson starred in three of the most well-loved films from the ‘90s as a child – Mrs Doubtfire, Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street.

But she decided to step away from acting when she was a teenager, as she felt disenchanted with the film business.

“I was very depressed, I was very anxious, I can barely even remember Matilda coming out,” she told NPR. “I only have vague memories of the premiere, and it was really hard for me. 

“So I think that I definitely became kind of disenchanted with acting, with Hollywood, while, at the same time, it was a crutch for me.”

She revealed that going through puberty on film sets was horribly awkward and that eventually, she passed up the “cute” child actor phase and stopped being considered for certain prime roles.

“There wasn’t like one big moment where I knew I was done. … The rejection hurt because it had been just such a prominent part of my life for so long,” Mara said.

The young performer decided to step away from acting for good in order to focus on writing – and she still works as a writer and director to this day.

Peter Ostrum

Like Mara, Peter Ostrum had the starring role of Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 – and then virtually vanished from public life after.

After filming wrapped on the movie, the studio was prepared to offer the youngster a three-movie deal, but he didn’t sign the contract.

Peter had, in fact, fallen in love with working with animals, thanks to his parents, and eventually became a vet.

“Now more concerned with milk production than milk chocolate,” dairy farmer Peter visits local public schools to discuss his life experiences, what it is like to be a vet, and how the decisions one makes affects his or her life. 

He says that “acting was fine,” but it wasn’t his passion and he wanted to find something that he loved doing — which led him into work as a vet.

The former child actor has also since confessed acting isn’t the “glamorous profession” people think it is, and in reality is “difficult”.

Jeff Cohen

As Chunk in The Goonies, Jeff Cohen became a much-loved child star in the ‘80s.

But he was forced to quit Hollywood when he could no longer put himself forward for the “fat kid roles”. 

In 2015, he told the Mail: “There were basically about four fat kids in town, so every time there was a fat kid role you saw the same people at the audition.

“It was survival of the fattest. But when I hit puberty, it was a career ender for me. I was transforming from Chunk to hunk and I couldn’t get roles any more.”

Jeff continued: “It was terrible. My first love was acting but puberty had other ideas. It was a forced retirement. 

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“I didn't give up acting. Acting gave me up.”

Jeff now owns his own successful entertainment law firm Cohen Gardner LLC, in Beverly Hills.

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