Actors Who Basically Disappeared From Hollywood

On the surface, making it big in Hollywood is a dream come true, and don't get us wrong, it definitely is. Fame, fortune, and all of the benefits that come with it? Sign us up! However, being a successful Hollywood actor is still a job that requires putting in a lot of time and energy. On top of that, while the paychecks are super sweet, actors run the risk of putting out a project that can lead to some pretty intense criticism of their skills and talents. Even worse, sometimes a movie doesn't come together exactly as planned, and it can leave a stink that will follow an actor for the rest of their lives. Not fun.

So here are some actors that made the decision to ghost on the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown either after getting a glimpse at how quickly it can turn on them or after realizing that there's more to life than waiting around for someone to yell "Action!"

Joe Pesci

If you grew up in the '90s, then there's a pretty good chance that you know Joe Pesci from his role as one of the main villains in the holiday classic Home Alone. But if you're also a fan of great cinema, then you know that Pesci was a veritable acting force who collaborated with legendary director Martin Scorsese on such classic films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino. Pesci also proved himself as a strong leading man with his command performance in My Cousin Vinny. His career was the kind most actors only get to dream about, but Pesci couldn't have cared less about the trappings of fame, and in 1999, he walked away.

According to Complex, the reasons for Pesci's early retirement are murky. While it initially seemed like he decided to pursue a career in music, a look back at Pesci's interviews over the years show a man who wasn't entirely feeling Hollywood and seemed apathetic about his successful film career. Granted, Pesci has popped up in a small handful of films over the past 20 years (and an odd appearance in a Snickers commercial,) but the actor seems reluctant to relive his glory days. In fact, he's probably the only person who has no problem telling off Martin Scorsese. (We won't repeat the words Pesci used.)

Meg Ryan

She became the "queen of romantic comedies" with such hits as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail and also also starred in the smoldering drama City of Angels back when Nicolas Cage was still lighting up the cineplex. But in 2000, Ryan became the focus of intense tabloid scrutiny when reports began surfacing that she was having an affair with her Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe, who was taking Hollywood by storm after his breakout role in Gladiator. While Ryan continued to work sporadically in Hollywood, her roles were never the same after the affair, and she waited eight years to address the scandal in a 2008 interview with InStyle.

According to Ryan, the affair definitely happened, and even though it affected her public image, she described it as liberating after years of allegedly being cheated on by her husband at the time, actor Dennis Quaid. With her side of the story finally out there, Ryan attempted to bounce back with The Women, a film about a cheated-on spouse, but audiences and critics just weren't feeling it. Since then, Ryan has ditched Hollywood for New York, where she's focused on her children and navigating the pitfalls of love with rocker John Mellencamp.

Mike Myers

For a while, it seemed like former Saturday Night Live alum Mike Myers was the king of the comedy world. After the blockbuster success of the Wayne's World movies and Austin Powers franchise, there was no way Myers' Hollywood star could shine any brighter. And then he became Shrek! Myers was unstoppable! Until he wasn't.

In 2008, The Love Guru hit theaters, and it was a huge misstep. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 13 percent, it was the first sign that Myers was no longer a sure-fire hit at the box office. Outside of a brief cameo in Inglourious Basterds and 2010's Shrek Forever, Myers has seemingly vanished from Hollywood. Was it all because of that one terrible movie? 

In a 2014 interview with GQ, Myers talked about his escape to New York, noting that his absence had nothing do with The Love Guru, of which he's actually proud of making. What really happened is this: Myers remarried and welcomed two children with his second wife. He's also been working on small passion projects that he's in no rush to complete. However, he said he had five very specific movie ideas that he was kicking around, but he wanted to let them "percolate." Considering several years have gone by since the interview, it's safe to say Myers is in no rush to return to Hollywood.

Gene Hackman

Thanks to a career stretching all the way back to the '60s, Gene Hackman has starred in at least 79 movies, and those films include such classics as Bonnie and ClydeThe French Connection, Hoosiers, Unforgiven, Crimson Tide, and a slew of others that have stood the test of time. Plus, who can forget Hackman's iconic role as Lex Luthor matching wits with Christopher Reeve's Superman.

In 2001, Hackman gave one of his most beloved performances in The Royal Tenenbaums, despite the fact that he was reluctant to do the film, particularly after learning that director Wes Anderson wrote the part specifically for him. So it came as a complete surprise when Hackman starred in the 2004 lackluster comedy Welcome to Mooseport and chose that to be his final film. While Hackman never officially announced his retirement, he confirmed he was done with acting in a 2008 interview with Reuters

However, this fan favorite is not finished with the creative world yet, and the former actor is doing a formidable job trying to "hack" it as a writer. (Yup, that joke happened.)

Rene Russo

With only a few acting credits to her name, Rene Russo seemingly came out of nowhere and planted herself as a steady fixture in such quintessential '90s movies as In the Line of FireOutbreakTin Cup, Ransom, and the hot and steamy remake of The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan. When the 2000s rolled around, Russo's output became less consistent, and then, just like that, she vanished for six years after wrapping production on 2005's Yours, Mine, and Ours. She wouldn't appear again until 2011's Thor, where she played Chris Hemsworth's Viking goddess mom Frigga.

While rumors began to spread that Rene Russo disappeared because of her bipolar disorder, the actress set the record straight in 2014 by telling Showbiz 411 that being bipolar wasn't the reason for her temporary absence from the big screen. She said she just genuinely needed a break after acting since age 9. As for what Russo did during her six years off? 

Gardening. Hey, when you gotta prune, you gotta prune.

Rick Moranis

After making a name for himself on SCTV, Canada's answer to Saturday Night Live, Rick Moranis became a staple of '80s comedy classics, starting with a small little movie called Ghostbusters. After that, Moranis had starring roles in Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs!, and the Disney franchise Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Moranis also continued to steadily work in the '90s, which included landing the plum role of Barney Rubble in the 1994 live-action remake of The Flintstones. It seemed like this guy was going to be a Hollywood mainstay for years to come. And then he was gone.

By 2015, Moranis had virtually vanished from Hollywood for nearly 18 years, but when word got out that he wouldn't reprise his role as Lewis Tully in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, he granted a rare interview to The Hollywood Reporter to explain where he'd been. We hope you have some tissues ready. 

In 1997, Moranis' wife, Anne, died of breast cancer. While he originally planned to take a small break, Moranis ultimately devoted himself to raising his two young children, and the actor couldn't be happier be with the decision. "I was working with really interesting people, wonderful people," Moranis said. "I went from that to being at home with a couple of little kids, which is a very different lifestyle. But it was important to me. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. My life is wonderful."

Dana Carvey

Comedian Dana Carvey rose to prominence in the early '90s thanks to his breakout performances on Saturday Night Live, which included his famous Church Lady character and impressions of then-president George H.W. Bush. Carvey also starred in a notable sketch you might have heard of: Wayne's World. Alongside Mike Myers, Carvey became the classic sidekick Garth Algar in two hit Wayne's World movies. However, while Myers went on to even bigger Hollywood success, Carvey didn't fare so well.

In 1997, Carvey's first attempt at a comedy series bombed on ABC, and he began having chest pains, which required bypass surgery on his heart. After the surgery, something wasn't right. Carvey was still having chest pains because the doctor reportedly bypassed the wrong artery. According to ABC News, Carvey successfully sued the surgeon for millions and donated the money to charity. By that time, Carvey had moved his family away from Hollywood to a "small town with trees," and that's where the comedian decided to put his focus after his grueling heart ordeal. 

During a 2015 appearance on Pete Holmes' podcast (via Uproxx), Carvey describes his disappearance from Hollywood as a "half-way Rick Moranis." He has done some work of late, such as voicing the basset hound Pops in 2016's The Secret Life of Pets. While the former SNL alum is toying with making a comeback, he seems content focusing on his kids, who are up-and-coming comedians themselves. Party on.

Bridget Fonda

Thanks to her famous dad, Bridget Fonda made her first acting appearance at age 5 in the 1969 classic Easy Rider, but it would be a few decades until the actress became a Hollywood fixture. In the early '90s, she made a big splash in Single White Female, but despite working steadily in notable '90s flicks such as Point of No Return, Singles, and Jackie Brown, Fonda's career didn't fare so well in the 2000s.

For starters, Fonda had made a name for herself as a film actress, so when the lead role for a television series came her way, she turned it down. That show ended up being the smash hit Ally McBeal, which rocketed Calista Flockhart to fame. Fonda starred in the 2001 box-office bomb Monkeybone, and a year later, she quit acting altogether after starring in the forgettable Hallmark channel movie Snow Queen. (Think super low-budget Frozen.)

But Fonda had a good reason to walk away from Hollywood after a solid body of work. She started a family with husband and famous film composer Danny Elfman, and she hasn't looked back.

Sean Connery

While Sean Connery rose to fame during the '60s as the first James Bond, the prolific Scottish actor continued to be a formidable box office presence through much of the '80s and '90s thanks to roles in HighlanderThe Untouchables, The Hunt for Red October, and The Rock. (Plus being Indiana Jones' dad probably didn't hurt.) By the early 2000s, Connery was still white-hot after the success of Entrapment, but behind-the-scenes, a series of mistakes would lead him to walk away from Hollywood.

While it's known that Connery retired after filming the disastrous The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it wasn't revealed until years later why he starred in a movie he hated so much that he literally got into a fist-fight with the director. According to Entertainment Weekly, Connery had turned down roles in both Lord of the Rings and The Matrix – both of which came with sweet back-end deals that would have made him a fortune. When League came around, Connery thought he had this one figured out.

"I got offered The Lord of the Rings, and I turned it down because I didn't understand it," Connery told producer Don Murphy. "I was offered The Matrix — twice — and I turned it down because I didn't understand it. I don't understand this movie, but I'll be damned if I'm going to turn it down," he said. Obviously, that didn't go as planned, but Connery is happily enjoying retirement.

Cameron Diaz

After a breakout role as Jim Carrey's love interest in The Mask, Cameron Diaz rocketed to Hollywood "It" Girl status with There's Something About Mary and continued to be a steady force at the box office with Charlie's Angels, Shrek, and a respectable turn in the indie flick Being John Malkovich. But in 2014, Diaz went on hiatus after starring in a critically panned remake of Annie, except it looks like Diaz might be doing more than just taking a hiatus.

According to the Daily Mail, Diaz reportedly told best friend and fellow actress Selma Blair that she retired from acting to focus on starting a family with her rocker husband, Benji Madden. Blair said Diaz is "done" with Hollywood and is serious about not coming back. "I mean, she doesn't need to make any more films, she has a pretty great life," Blair reportedly said at the Vanity Fair Oscars pre-party. "I don't know what it would take to bring her back."

However, after news of Diaz's supposed retirement blew up in the press, Blair took to Twitter to claim that she was "joking" and specifically insist that Diaz "isn't retiring from anything." As for what's really going on, nobody knows. According to People and Variety, Diaz's team won't confirm or deny reports of her retirement, which makes the situation all the more perplexing.