The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.
Celebrities who’ve reached household name status are often expected to stay that way. While it can be hard to imagine big-name stars slipping out of the spotlight, it happens. For some, it’s an intentional choice to step away from acting. Others simply are just waiting for a role that really gets them jazzed.
Check out all the Hollywood stars we haven’t seen onscreen in years.
Could any teenage heartthrob ever hold a candle to Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles”? As loyal Jake Ryan fans may know, the actor who played him, Michael Schoeffling, has left Hollywood behind. After memorable roles in “Mermaids” and “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” he disappeared. Schoeffling now apparently lives in Pennsylvania and has a carpentry business. He and his wife have two grown children, including a model daughter.
Stacey Dash made a name for herself in “Clueless” as Cher’s best friend. But her acting career has fizzled since then. Nowadays, Dash is known more for being a conservative political activist. She’s appeared as a FOX News commentator and recently ran for a congressional seat before deciding to pull out from the race.
Best known for her roles in “Gremlins” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Phoebe Cates left acting years ago. She’s married to actor Kevin Kline, with whom she has two children. Cates did appear in the 2001 movie “The Anniversary Party,” but only as a favor to friend Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has kept a lower profile in recent years. Up until recently, the Oscar winner’s last big project was 2012’s “Rock of Ages.” She’s been open about her bipolar disorder diagnosis and also dealt with husband Michael Douglas’ cancer battle. But Zeta-Jones came back to larger acting roles with last year’s “Feud” and is currently working on a TV show called “Queen America.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar
The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Cruel Intentions” actress has left acting on the back burner. Instead, she’s been focusing on her new company, Foodstirs, which makes sustainable, fair trade and organic baking products. She has two kids with husband and fellow actor Freddie Prinze Jr.
Freddie Prinze Jr.
After playing a teen heartthrob in “She’s All That” and other films, starring in the live-action movie remake of “Scooby-Doo” and leading his self-titled one-season show “Freddie,” Freddie Prinze Jr. left much of acting behind. He prefers to be a stay-at-home dad with side jobs like being the voice of a “Star Wars Rebels” character. He has also written a cookbook, “Back to the Kitchen,” and continues to have a strong marriage with Sarah Michelle Gellar.
“Party of Five” and “Lost” made Matthew Fox famous, but he hasn’t made a movie since 2015 and has gone on the record saying he doesn’t love acting. Fox had a couple run-ins with the law several years ago, and he popped up in the news recently when his Bend, Oregon, house went on the market. Below, Fox and his wife Margherita Ronchi and their son, Byron, take in a tennis match in Rome, Italy, in May 2018.
Calista Flockhart found a starring role in late ’90s/early ’00s classic “Ally McBeal” and then jumped quickly from that into the family drama “Brothers and Sisters.” But after the latter went off the air, Flockhart took a more low-key acting path. She had a prime role as Cat Grant on “Supergirl” until the show switched filming locations from Los Angeles to Vancouver and she became an occasional guest star. Perhaps she’s just more content spending time with her son, Liam, and husband, Harrison Ford.
Iconic actor Jack Nicholson hasn’t been seen in anything since 2010’s “How Do You Know.” A U.S. remake of “Toni Erdmann” was supposed to bring Nicholson back to the big screen, but he backed out of the project. His friend Peter Fonda says Nicholson is basically retired.
Remember the days of “There’s Something About Mary,” “Shrek,” “Charlie’s Angels” and the many other films that made Cameron Diaz famous? Where’d she go?
Apparently, the last movie the actress appeared in was “Annie” in 2014. Turns out she’s retired from acting and is just enjoying life with husband Benji Madden. Though Diaz did say in a recent interview that she’d be open to a sequel to “The Sweetest Thing.”
The former teen comedian had a very public breakdown several years ago. After receiving treatment, she’s kept a low-profile life. She hasn’t acted on screen since 2010, instead choosing to go to fashion school. Though she did say in a 2017 interview that she’d like to get back into television acting.
The “Lord of the Rings” and “Lost” actor Dominic Monaghan hasn’t had a big role since “Lost” went off the air in 2010. He’s slated to appear in the Australian television drama “Bite Club” and he just scored a part in the currently filming “Star Wars: IX,” though what his role will be remains to be seen.
Peter Fonda’s daughter (and Jane’s niece) Bridget made a name for herself in movies like “It Could Happen To You” and “Single White Female.” Fonda hasn’t had a screen credit since 2002, but she’s no doubt been busy raising her son, Oliver, whom she shares with music composer husband Danny Elfman.
The last big roles the martial artist and actor best known for “Walker, Texas Ranger” did were in 2005. In recent years, he’s been supporting his wife through health issues. Even though Norris himself is in semi-retirement, his tough-guy legend lives on through things like the popular Chuck Norris Facts meme.
“Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue” actor Dennis Franz hasn’t acted since the latter went off the air in 2005. Apparently, it was a hard act to follow. Now, Franz is just enjoying retirement. He did present an Emmy award with co-star Jimmy Smits at the 2016 awards ceremony.
Iconic ’50s and ’60s actress and singer Doris Day has been in too many great films to list them all. But the actress hasn’t appeared on screen since her sitcom “The Doris Day Show” went off the air in 1973. Instead, the now-96-year-old is known as an animal welfare activist with her own foundation, and lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
Prolific actor Gene Hackman isn’t planning to come back to acting, having been retired for a number of years now. His last role was in “Welcome to Mooseport” in 2004. He and his second wife live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he enjoys bicycling and writes books.
“Little Shop of Horrors,” “Ghostbusters,” “Spaceballs” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” actor Rick Moranis seemed to be all over the place in the ’80s and early ’90s. Then his wife passed away and Moranis stepped out of the spotlight to raise his kids. He’s done mostly small parts, voiceover work and country comedy albums (believe it or not) in the years since. He recently came out of retirement to reprise the voice of Dark Helmet from “Spaceballs” in an episode of “The Goldbergs.”
Randy Quaid might be best known for “Independence Day” and the “National Lampoon” movies, plus some erratic behavior in the last decade-plus. But the Oscar-nominated actor is due to return in the movie “Weight” this year after a nine-year absence from the screen.
Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen
The Olsen twins have put acting behind them. Mary-Kate and Ashley declined to join the “Fuller House” reunion with their old “Full House” costars and don’t like to be in front of the camera much anymore either. The twins run clothing lines The Row and Elizabeth and James together. Mary-Kate is also married to French financier Olivier Sarkozy while Ashley is unattached.
Emilio Estevez, son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen, has taken a quieter career path since his “Mighty Ducks” and “Breakfast Club” days. He’s focused more on writing and directing, such as in the 2010 film “The Way,” which he collaborated on with his father.
“Love Story” actress Ali MacGraw has been off the screen since 1997. She toured with “Love Story” co-star Ryan O’Neal doing the play “Love Letters” in 2015. But nowadays, she lives in New Mexico, does yoga, is involved in animal welfare causes and designs clothes.
Even legendary actors with prolific careers want to retire at some point. Or so it is with Sean Connery, whose last onscreen credit was 2002’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” Connery is living a quiet retirement in the Bahamas with occasional public sightings, like at the U.S. Open.
Mara Wilson was a well-known child actor back in the early ’90s. “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Matilda” made her famous. But a few years after her mother passed away, Wilson decided she was largely done with acting. She’s had a few bit parts primarily as a voice actor in more recent years, but Wilson is now focusing on a career in writing, and recently published a memoir.
The “Game of Thrones” king hasn’t acted since he was killed off of the HBO miniseries. Instead, he did his university studies at Trinity College and has made a lot of fan convention appearances, too. He’s also gone on humanitarian missions.
Originally published on The Delite.