Celebs that ended up with totally regular jobs

There's no business like show business, and for some people, that's a good thing that includes critical acclaim, red carpets, and big money. For others, fame brings unwanted scrutiny, intense pressure, and seriously hectic schedules that celebrities would rather avoid. Some of these stars ditched the limelight in favor of low-key lives, parenthood, childhood, or hobbies. Others didn't have much of a choice, because, well, Hollywood is a cruel and fickle place. One minute you're making headlines, and the next, you're scouring the classifieds and auditioning for a job at a Trader Joes. 

From former heartthrobs and sitcom favorites to chart-topping musicians and reality stars, find out who's selling shoes, who's bagging groceries, who's playing Mr. Mom, and who's taking your order. Nineties icons, child stars, even a Harry Potter alum and a Jonas Brother have all made this shocking list of celebs who ended up working totally regular jobs.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Freddie Prinze, Jr. was every '90s and early '00s teenage girl's dream man. While he still does some acting here and there, his primary job recently has been working as a chef. The actor and father of two even wrote a cookbook, Back to the Kitchen, in 2016. 

He told GQ he left acting because he wanted to be a "stay-at-home dad." Prinze said, "I wanted to cook breakfast and dinner for my kids every day…That's when you kind of realize, 'Hey, I don't think I have the passion for this.'"

Nikki Blonsky

Nikki Blonsky was a fantastic Tracy Turnblad in 2007's Hairspray – her first big-screen role. She rode that wave of success to star in the ABC Family (now Freeform) series Huge in 2010. She has since expressed frustration with the challenge of pursuing roles for plus-sized women in Hollywood, but she hasn't stopped hustling. To make ends meet between acting and voice-over gigs, she worked in a high-end shoe store in her native Long Island and as a cosmetologist in a salon.

Tiffany

Tiffany was a 1980s sensation, with her stunning face, fiery red hair, and catchy cover of "I Think We're Alone Now." These days, instead of shooting music videos in malls, she's hawks vintage clothes in her shop, Tiffany's Boutique, in Nashville, Tenn. She told the New York Daily News, "I was a shopaholic as a teenager. I've been collecting vintage pieces for 10 years now [for my] tiny little store." She added, "I'm still involved in the music industry, so I'm always traveling. And shopping!"

Dylan Sprouse

Former The Suite Life of Zack and Cody star Dylan Sprouse sent fans (and haters) into a tizzy in 2013, when it was revealed that he worked as a host in a New York City restaurant while going to college. He took to his Tumblr page to clarify that he wasn't broke, just trying to live that normal life.

"So many pictures have gotten out that I'm now working as a host at a restaurant in NY," he wrote (via Us Weekly). "To clear up the air (which is admittedly pretty rude), I did not take this job because I 'lost all my money,' I am financially secure, and took this job as a way to primarily feed my over bountiful video game addiction. I also took this as a way to try a new experience, working somewhat below the means I'm used to, as well as a way to socialize and get out of the house … in no way do I think any experience is a step down for me, but rather a new step in another direction." 

Jonathan Bennett

Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett went from smooching an in-her-prime Lindsay Lohan to becoming a spin instructor. The erstwhile Aaron Samuels may very well be the most handsome staffer at Flywheel in Los Angeles, where he reportedly specializes in encouraging aspiring stars in his classes. Are you suddenly interested in working out again? 

We hate to break it to you, but Bennett eventually bounced back into showbiz when he became the host of Cake Wars on the Food Network. Grool, indeed.

Michael Schoeffling

Sixteen Candles hunk Michael Schoeffling, who starred as heartthrob Jake Ryan in the iconic movie, left Hollywood for good in the early 1990s. The Washington Post reported that the married father of two works as a carpenter in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. For some reason, that makes Jake even dreamier to us.

Charles Korsmo

Charles Korsmo, who starred as Robin Williams' son in 1991's Hook, left Hollywood as a teen to pursue academic endeavors. "At 13, I realized I didn't have any friends my own age," he told the New York Daily News

He earned a degree in physics, then advised the then-newly formed Department of Homeland Security after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He attended Yale Law, then became a lawyer and professor. His acting experience actually helps him on the job. "As a professor you are on your feet in front of crowd a few hours a day," he said. "It's not quite the same as being an actor, but the experience takes away some of the nervousness."

Kevin Jonas

While brothers Nick and Joe Jonas have continued drawing crowds in the music business, Kevin Jonas became a contractor when the Jonas Brothers broke up. 

"I've always looked at everything I do as a business, including the Jonas Brothers," Kevin told the New York Daily News. "I like to get my hands dirty. I've been blessed in my life where I get to say, 'You know what? I want to do this.'" His blue-collar job does bring some risks. "I jacked up my thumb yesterday and put a drill bit right through my thumb nail," he said. "It comes with the trade…whatever gets the job done."

Jon Gosselin

While Kate Gosselin continued her reality TV stardom with Kate Plus 8, ex-husband Jon Gosselin opted for a more low-key life post-divorce. The former TV patriarch wound up working as a DJ as well as a cook at TGI Fridays. He told Entertainment Tonight that the latter was just a "hobby." According to Jon, "I only work there eight hours a week, because I like to do it. Why can't I work at a restaurant? I like to cook. My buddy needed help so I said 'OK, why not? I'll saute!'"

However, Jon reportedly quit Fridays soon after a photo of him at the eatery was widely publicized. "I'm not going to work there anymore because now the trust and the teamwork is gone," he told Dallas radio station 103.7 KVIL FM. "Because now someone took a picture of me and sold it to TMZ. Thanks a lot, man! Now I gotta go through all of this stuff and now I gotta leave a job that I was passionate about." 

Peter Ostrum

Peter Ostrum starred alongside Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. He played Charlie, the beloved little boy with a heart of gold, then he never acted in another movie. "After the film, I always denied my involvement with Willy Wonka. I didn't really want to have anything to do with it," he told Oprah's Where Are They Now in 2014. What did he do instead?

Ostrum became a veterinarian in Lowville, N.Y. "For me, veterinary medicine is a really nice mix between using your head, using your brain, problem-solving, but at the same time, there's a physical aspect of the work that I enjoy," he said. "I won't get fat doing this job! You're always on the go and each day is a little bit different."

Chris Owen

American Pie star Chris Owen still acts, but he also reportedly waits tables at a high-end sushi eatery to pay the bills. "Life doesn't always go the way you planned," he admitted to the New York Daily News. "I love acting and this job lets me stay in the fight." Though big roles may not be racing his way, Owen's apparently made a lasting impression as Chuck Sherman in the Pie franchise. "I get recognized a lot," he said. "I walk up to the table and see the look in their eyes … People get excited and it feels good. I like connecting with people for that brief moment in time."

Josh Saviano

The Wonder Years star Josh Saviano retired from acting and is reportedly now a lawyer, consultant, and podcast partner. He's also still close with co-star Fred Savage, by the way. In fact, the guys made an appearance on the Jumbotron at a New York Rangers game in 2016. True friendship never dies!

Al Green

Soul singer Al Green has won 14 Grammys, sold millions of records, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll, Gospel, and Songwriters Halls of Fame. While he still records and performs occasionally, he left the bulk of his past as a crooner behind to devote his life to religion in the late '70s. After being attacked by an angry lover in 1974 (she then committed suicide in his home), he grew more serious about his spirituality. He became a Baptist preacher in Memphis, Tenn., where he's served at the Full Gospel Tabernacle for more than 40 years.

When asked about his career change, Green told KHOU, "I done did a lot of stuff, man. There's some things I'd like to do, maybe [play] three or four cities of the United States and then go back to the house and read some more of the [Bible]. I'm not hankering for anything, not really."

Angus T. Jones

Two and a Half Men star Angus T. Jones left the hit CBS series — where he reportedly made $300,000 per episode — because its storylines, especially as he got older, conflicted with his Christian beliefs. He enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder, then took a break from school to found the Tonite event production company with Sean "Diddy" Combs' son, Justin Combs.

Speaking to Billboard about the venture and his career change, Jones admitted that making the jump into music was "a completely new thought for me" — and suggested he'd softened his stance somewhat regarding his sitcom past. "I am now fully understanding what people meant when they told me that Two and a Half Men was one of the best jobs ever if not the best job ever," said Jones. "That was the opportunity of a lifetime and everyone's always told me that … I'm really actually understanding myself now. It's showed me what it takes to put on a good show."

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Like her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar transitioned from acting into the food business. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer star co-developed a non-GMO, organic baking mix company called Foodstirs in 2015.

The mom of two told People, "I always joke with my kids like being an actor is a very abstract job. For the longest time my kids, because my kids are still little, they thought I got my hair and makeup done for a living and thought that was a job. Now they watched us have an idea, create it, make it a tangible product and now when they go to the stores that we shop in all the time, they see it on the shelves, and that's incredible to me. It kind of blows my mind."

She told CNBC that her celebrity was a "double-edged sword" when she launched her own business. While one might think being famous would give an entrepreneur a leg up, Gellar argued that fame comes with "more eyes on us and more anticipation of failure." She added, "It certainly helps to have my platform to spread the word, but it takes that much more to be accepted as a serious business woman."

Michael Maronna

Pete & Pete star Michael Maronna, who starred as Big Pete, still works in TV, but not in the same capacity. As he told The Washington Times in 2015, "I'm a best boy electrician on an NBC show called Shades of Blue. I do lighting. The show stars Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta." Aside from Shades of Blue, which wrapped in August 2018, Maronna has also worked on The Normal Heart, Elementary, Nurse Jackie, Men In Black 3, and other films and TV shows as an electrician.

Maronna and his pal Pete, Danny Tamberelli, also lead a podcast called The Adventures of Danny & Mike. Maronna said that project got underway "when Danny couldn't make rent. On the 31st he said, 'We should do this podcast.' Five days later we got Danny some rent money" and "a fine, comfortable couch that he can clean every so often." 

Clearly, these guys are still hilarious, and at least one of them is happy with their current situation pursuing everyman endeavors. "But we're so damn busy," Maronna said. "I have a full-time job and Dan is busy trying to get that couch together."

Andrew Shue

Andrew Shue starred on Melrose Place from 1992 to 1999, and, after leaving the primetime soap, he turned his efforts online. The actor, who's married to ABC News anchor Amy Robach, founded CafeMom, one of the early "mommy blogs," in 2006. 

"As rewarding and rich as that time of life is, being a mom can be isolating because no one has any idea how overwhelmed each mom is, how conflicted they are about performing all their roles well," he told NJ.com. "Moms don't think they do anything well." Aside from wanting to help mothers at a difficult time, Shue admitted he was tired of the Hollywood grind. "I didn't like having to promote myself and to constantly make myself interesting to people."

According to NJ.com, "These days, if someone asks him if he's from Melrose Place, he answers, 'Actually, I'm from New Jersey.'"

Geoffrey Owens

Geoffrey Owens played Bill Cosby's son-in-law, Elvin Tibideaux, on The Cosby Show, which had its reruns pulled from airwaves in April 2018 in light of the titular character's sexual assault allegations — meaning all the actors on the series stopped receiving residuals.

Photos of Owens working as a cashier in a Trader Joe's in New Jersey went viral in September 2018. He told Good Morning America that while he wasn't ashamed of his job, he kept the gig on the DL because he didn't want the entertainment industry to think he'd quit. "I've been teaching acting directing for 30-plus years, but it got to a point where it just didn't add up enough and you gotta do what you gotta do. I wanted a job where I could have some flexibility, try to stay in the business," he said.

Owens received an outpouring of support after the images went viral, including a $25,000 donation from Nicki Minaj and a job offer from Tyler Perry, which Owens accepted. "I hope what doesn't pass is this idea that people are rethinking about what it means to work — the honor of the working person and the dignity of work," he told GMA. Owens added, "Every job is worthwhile and valuable."

Terry Crews

After Geoffrey Owens was shamed by some for working at Trader Joe's, athlete-turned-actor Terry Crews rushed to his defense on social media. "I swept floors AFTER [playing in] the @NFL," Crews tweeted in response to a story about Owens' grocery gig. "If need be, I'd do it again. Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of."

Indeed, Crews has had other jobs in between his football career and his acting roles, including co-founding a furniture design firm and a stint as a courtroom sketch artist covering a high-profile murder case in Flint, Mich. Though he's wildly successful today, the entertainer has made it clear that side hustles have always been a part of his equation. During a sit-down on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Crews said "humility gets you far," noting that he put his artistic talents to use while playing in the NFL. "It would literally take me about two months to do a painting, and they would give me like five grand, and I would survive off that. My whole family survived off that."

Nate Richert

Nate Richert starred as Harvey Kinkle, actress Melissa Joan Hart's love interest on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, from 1996 to 2003. Since then, he's taken several decidedly un-Hollywood jobs to make ends meet. "I've been an actor for 32 yrs (since age 8)," Richert tweeted. "I'm extremely lucky to have had any success at all, let alone solid work in film and TV for 6yrs (20yrs ago). I'm currently a maintenance man, a janitor, a carpenter, and do whatever random jobs I can get to pay the bills."

Richert still performs and works as a songwriter. He explained his predicament on Twitter: "Actors so very rarely have job security or consistent work, quality healthcare, a reasonable retirement. We are actors anyway because it is who we are at the core, for the love and need to bring the words on the page to life and to make you feel them (God, I love to make you laugh!) Not for fame, at least not in the traditional sense. Fame, to me, has only ever meant 'maybe more work someday…'"

Mike Vitar

Mike Vitar played Benjamin Franklin "Benny the Jet" Rodriguez in The Sandlot and Luis Mendoza in D2: The Mighty Ducks and its sequel, D3: The Mighty Ducks. He left Hollywood in 1997, when he was 19 years old. Variety reports that Vitar became a firefighter in Los Angeles. 

The '90s movie star ran into legal trouble when he, another off-duty firefighter named Eric Carpenter, and a third pal named Thomas Molnar were accused of beating Samuel Chang, a college student who was handing out candy in Carpenter's neighborhood on Halloween in 2015, reported the Los Angeles Times. Chang wound up in the intensive care unit. Vitar and his buddies reached controversial plea deals that kept them out of prison. Vitar reportedly pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and received three years of probation and community service. He was suspended for six months from the fire department before returning to work, as reported by the Times.

Chris Rankin

Chris Rankin played Percy Weasley, Ron Weasley's equally ginger brother, in the Harry Potter franchise of films. While he's done some YouTube work since then, he told the BBC in 2008 that he planned to quit acting because, well, the magic was gone. "I went for the West End audition for the musical Wicked … Usually when you go for TV and film auditions people are nice to you, they tell you 'thank you very much' and say they'll get back to you in the next few days," Rankin said. "In the West End auditions, they just say 'next', and I thought, 'I don't enjoy this anymore.'"

Rankin left his job in front of the camera to pursue work behind it. He reportedly went to college to study directing and media production, and according to IMDb, he served as an assistant production coordinator on Downton Abbey in 2015 and as a production secretary on the Atlantis TV series from 2014 to 2015.

Brian Dunkleman

In the first season of American Idol, the now-ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest had a co-host: comedian Brian Dunkleman. Dunkleman didn't come back for the subsequent seasons of the singing competition juggernaut and, at the time of this writing, works as an Uber driver in Los Angeles.

Dunkleman's career shift was first reported by TMZ. The gossip rag unearthed documents from Dunkleman's divorce that revealed his source of income: He reportedly logs about 45 hours a week behind the wheel for the service, making about $800 to $1,000 a week. Dunkleman, who has a 5-year-old son, told the site, "I chose to stop doing standup comedy and started driving an Uber so I could be there for my son as much as he needed after our life as we knew it was destroyed."

Former The Cosby Show star Geoffrey Owens, who was previously shamed for working at Trader Joe's, sent Dunkleman well wishes. "Hey, Brian! Geoffrey Owens here," Owens told People in a statement. "To say that I can relate to your situation is an understatement." He added, "There's a small amount of people who can truly understand what you're going through, and I'm one of them! Hang in there. And don't hide. Whatever you do, do it well and proudly. … I think you're awesome, and I admire you!"

MC Hammer

MC Hammer was the biggest rapper in the world, but he would later become the biggest financial cautionary tale after he lost his millions. He's since given up on the entertainment world, save for the occasional commercial, but he's back in the black after becoming a tech investor.

Billboard reported that Hammer is one of the savviest tech gurus out there and was one of the earliest investors in companies like Square and Flipboard. He also expressed interest in Pandora and YouTube way before they became household names. "I'm interested in companies that can have a global impact on enterprise in general; things that can make your connected life more interesting and easier," Hammer told the magazine. "But always, I look for opportunities to support and expand the music business model or reinvigorate the music business model."

Still, don't discount a musical comeback from the rapper-turned-preacher-turned venture capitalist. He told Billboard, "Why not? Quincy Jones was 50 when he produced the Thriller album. It's not unprecedented."

Vanilla Ice

Stop, collaborate, and list it: Vanilla Ice went from a rapper to a house flipper.

The celeb, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, told CNBC in 2012 that his house-flipping business is just as lucrative as rap was for him back in the early '90s, and he's been chronicling his work on The Vanilla Ice Project on the DIY Network. "They're both pretty good, to be honest with you," he said of his current cash flow compared to when he was a rapper. "The great thing is I found another passion that does make money."

He went on, "The short sales, the foreclosures are great, but tax auctions are even better," adding, "If no one's bidding against you and it's an absolute auction, you can steal the homes for pennies on the dollar."

Van Winkle said that, in addition to making green, his houses go green too, telling DIY Life, "We create less of a carbon footprint. We use a lot of LED lights. … We installed a tankless water heater outside. It costs less to run, and you never run out of hot water."

Van Winkle even wrote a book on how to get rich flipping houses, which, he said, he got into by accident. He apparently bought an apartment in New York City's elite Greenwich Village, as well as a property in Los Angeles, in his early 20s, but sold them because he was never home — and made a sweet profit.

Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson was the adorable child star of 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire and 1996's Matilda. Then she disappeared from the public eye, embracing a career as a writer, though she makes occasional appearances on nostalgia-themed programs and does voiceover work once in a while too. But more than anything these days, Wilson is an activist, promoting mental health awareness after being diagnosed with panic disorder, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder when she was 12 years old, as she revealed to The Independent.

In November 2018, Wilson told Entertainment Weekly of her time as a child star, stating, "I do think that being a child actor was difficult in some ways, like it made me more of a perfectionist. There were a lot of people out there who were very cruel. But I had a lot of great opportunities that a lot of other people didn't and I met a lot of wonderful people. You kind of have to come to peace with it all."

Wilson also recalled her child stardom, as well as her coming of age, in her book Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, which was published in 2016.

George Foreman

George Foreman became famous in the boxing ring, but he became rich when he quit sparring and started selling. His endorsement with the George Foreman Grill was one of the most lucrative sports endorsements in history, according to CNBC.

Foreman admitted he was skeptical and uninterested in endorsing the grill when the Salton company approached him for the deal in the mid-1990s, and it wasn't until his wife, Mary, finally made him a burger on it six months later that he signed on to sell them. Under the deal, Foreman would take 45 percent of the profits — and, after collecting his first $1 million royalty check in 1997, he vowed to focus more on business than on boxing.

A year later, Salton reportedly sold $200 million worth of grills and bought Foreman out of his contract for a whopping $137.5 million. Since then, he's endorsed other products through George Foreman Enterprises, including meats, shoes, and shakes, but nothing was ever as hot as the grill.

To be clear: Foreman didn't create the grills, Michael Boehm did — but Foreman created the hype, which is what made them sell.