16 Celebrities Who Quit Acting… Then Returned To Showbiz

For us non-famous folk, the thought of quitting Hollywood seems crazy. After all, the percentage of people who make it as successful actors and actresses and are able to sustain a level of fame are very, very small. Yet, there are celebrities who prove that star power and box office millions aren’t everything. There are celebrities who leave Hollywood behind for normal jobs.

Then, in twists appropriate for the ending of movie, there are actors and actresses who say that they’re leaving Hollywood, but come back in no time at all. These are the celebrities who quit acting but returned.

16. Jamie Lee Curtis

There are articles going back to 2004 revealing that Jamie Lee Curtis wants to quit acting. She reportedly said at the time that she didn’t want to see herself aging on the big screen so she would quit before it actually happened. She was also outspoken about quitting before going under the knife. Yet, she has credits for almost every year following these interviews. Her recent credits include Scream Queens and New Girl. As of 2018, she still has a couple of films in post-production set to release soon.

15. Portia de Rossi

Portia de Rossi is one of the most recent additions to the list. During an interview on The Ellen Show, Ellen explained about how Portia decided to leave acting and was even written off Scandal. Portia stated, “I was approaching 45 and just kind of wondering ‘is there something that I could tackle now that I’ve never done before that would be really challenging and different?'” She decided to start a media and art curation company and told the producers of Arrested Development that if there was a season five, she wouldn’t be back. Well, they ignored that and her character was written in — and she now appears in five episodes of the new season.

14. Joaquin Phoenix

It has almost been 10 years, but it’s hard to forget that Joaquin PhoenixDavid Letterman interview from 2009 when the actor revealed that he was quitting acting for hip-hop and grew a long beard. It turns out that all of his erratic behavior was a publicity stunt to promote his mockumentary I’m Still Here. It didn’t seem to effect his work, though, as he’s been churning out films including Her, Mary Magdalene and The Master since.

13. Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson uttered the line, “I’m getting out, I’m retiring from movies next year,” back in 1999. Obviously that didn’t happen, just like it didn’t happen when he talked about quitting in 2015. In 2017, he revealed that he was retiring from action movies, saying, “I’m sixty-fucking-five. Audiences are eventually going to go: ‘Come on.'” Right now he has movies in post-production and one up-and-coming film. We’ll wait and see whether it’s an action film.

12. Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis made headlines at the end of 2017 for announcing that he was retiring from acting following the success of Phantom Thread. If you’re a fan of his, you will know this isn’t the first time that he has said it. He actually first “quit” way back in 1989, when he was performing Hamlet on stage. Then there were the years between roles when he took and break and some wondered whether he was ever coming back.

11. Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn is an icon who is still frequently cited to this day. Most know that in her later years, she broke away from acting to focus on charity work, but her decision to quit showbiz at what was thought to be the height of her career in 1967 didn’t go 100 percent to plan. She did focus on her UNICEF work, but she also appeared in a few productions including Bloodline (1979), Love Among Thieves and Robin and Marian.

10. Keira Knightley

You might also be surprised to hear Keira Knightley was ready to call it quits even after the success of Atonement and Pirates of the Caribbean. She said in a Vogue interview in 2012, “I didn’t know if I was going to go back to acting at all. I think for a long time I thought I wouldn’t. I think I intended not to work again.” She credited her friend, Carey Mulligan, for inspiring her to make a comeback. She has since appeared in plays and films.

9. Alec Baldwin

Can you imagine what things would have be like if Alec Baldwin actually stayed true to his word about quitting acting? We won’t have the Saturday Night Live‘s latest version of Donald Trump. Back in 2009, Alec revealed that he had plans to retire in 2012. He even said to Men’s Journal, “I don’t have any interest in acting anymore.” The plans were thought to coincide with the end of 30 Rock, but the reality was very different. He has countless film and TV credits to his name along with projects from 2009 to present. We’re surprised he didn’t try to quit after he was accused of frequently using hate speech, and allegedly had a recording of him spouting profanities at his young daughter in a voicemail leaked.

8. Shia LaBeouf

Everyone loved Shia LaBeouf when he was on Even Stevens in the early 2000s. When the show ended, he went on to appear in many successful films including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Transformers franchise. Around 2013, a lot happened with a plagiarism accusation, arrests, alcoholism and the infamous brown paper bag face mask. He said on Twitter that he wasn’t just going to give up acting, but he was going to retire from “public life” after “the recent attacks against my artistic integrity.” He added, “My love goes out to those who have supported me.” Fast forward, he was in a Sia video, was in American Honey and has a few movies in the works. And he has appeared on the red carpet without hiding his face.

7. Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh is a director and a producer, but he makes it onto the list because we’re talking about celebrities, film and comebacks. Also, he has six acting credits to his name between 1996 and 2011, though many were uncredited. He actually had a very long goodbye from the industry starting from 2011 to 2013 with various quotes about how movies didn’t matter and criticizing the treatment of directors. Now, he’s back. His most recent film was 2017’s Logan Lucky. In 2018, he said that he only wanted to film movies on iPhones so we’ll see if he sticks with this.

6. Jack Gleeson

Wondering what’s up with King Joffrey, aka Jack Gleeson, after **SPOILER ALERT*** the character was killed off Game of Thrones? If you’re a diehard GoT fan, you will know that he quit acting. He explained to Entertainment Weekly, “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.” Besides the HBO show, he was in Batman Begins, Shrooms and Killinaskully. Whether he properly quit is debatable because in 2015, he was working on the puppetry shows Bears in Space.

5. Evangeline Lilly

Following the success of Lost, Evangeline Lily was actually ready to quit acting. She told Buzzfeed, “I thought I was done. I never thought I’d act again after Real Steel.” All that changed with a phone call from Peter Jackson and a role in The Hobbit. She also followed the film with Ant-Man and has the sequel coming out in summer 2018.

4. Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig seemed pretty intense when he announced that he was not returning to do another James Bond sequel. Everyone knows the “I’d rather … slash my wrists” quote from 2015 about reprising the role as 007. Yet, the actor found himself taking back his words when it was revealed that he would return for 2019’s Bond 25. Oh, Daniel.

3. Sir Anthony Hopkins

There are actually a lot of reports about Sir Anthony Hopkins quitting acting through the years. As far back as 1998, he was talking about being disillusioned by the acting world and wanting to quit to save his sanity. In 2016, he said, “Every day I think about quitting, but they come and offer me a job, and I say okay, because I’m an actor.” His most recent roles include Westworld and Thor: Ragnarok. Considering the successes of both, it doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere soon.

2. Brad Pitt

Yes, it’s true. In 2011, Brad Pitt told Australian 60 Minutes that he was planning to quit acting in three years when he would have turned 50. He talked about being more interested in the production side of film making. You probably don’t need us to tell you that 2014 came and went and Brad still keeps clocking up acting credits. He’s 54 and shows no sign of stopping.

1. Emma Watson

After the massive success of the Harry Potter franchise, Emma Watson probably didn’t need to do another movie — or work, period. It was when the final HP films were being released that she took time out of the industry and debated about whether she would return. She said, “I took time to really try and figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. I even considered not being an actress.” She came back, of course, which is very lucky for Beauty and the Beast fans who thought she encapsulated Belle perfectly. In more recent times, she did say she was taking time off to focus on herself. Of course, a break is different than quitting.

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