Daniel Day-Lewis and 11 Other Movie Stars Who Walked Away From Successful Careers
By Zach Seemayer
After winning three Academy Awards and establishing himself as one of the world's greatest living actors, Daniel Day-Lewis issued a statement last week announcing that he was retiring from acting, and that the film he recently completed, director Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread, would be his last film performance.
The decision came as a shock to fans of the 60-year-old actor and father of three, many of whom feel like he has a lot more to offer in the way of brilliant performances. However, he's far from the first star to retire before his or her time. Here's a look at just a few major stars, throughout the history of Hollywood, who have walked away from their careers in search of something different.
After a long career playing everything from James Bond to romantic leads, Connery retired from acting at age 72 after shooting the ill-fated 2003 action-adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Connery has since provided the voice for a low-budget Scottish animated film called Sir Billi and the video game adaptation of From Russia With Love, but has been adamant that he'll never return to perform in a live-action role.
2. Gene Hackman
Following a very long and acclaimed career -- which included two Oscar wins, four Golden Globes and countless iconic performances -- Hackman retired from acting in 2004, at the age of 74, after appearing in the very poorly received comedy Welcome to Mooseport, opposite Ray Romano. Since announcing his retirement during an interview with Larry King, Hackman has focused primarily on writing, and has since published five novels.
3. Greta Garbo
After becoming an actress at 19, Garbo managed to make a name for herself in silent films and made the successful transition into talkies. However, following a string of lackluster movies -- culminating with the embarrassing flop Two-Faced Woman -- Garbo renounced show business at the age of 36 after appearing in 28 films. She went on to become a prolific art collector before her death in 1990 at age 84.
Temple was one of the most iconic child stars in the history of Hollywood. The pint-sized performer made over 40 films before she hit her teenage years, but decided to retire in 1950, when she was only 22, to focus on her political aspirations. While she attempted a few comebacks in the ensuing years, her efforts received a tepid response and she soon left show business altogether. She went on to be a United States ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, and served as the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States. Temple died in 2014 at the age of 85.
5. Rick Moranis
After a string of hit comedies -- including Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Flintstones and Ghostbusters -- Moranis walked away from his career soon after his wife died in 1990. The Canadian comic quit acting to focus on being a dedicated father to his kids. Since appearing in 1997's direct-to-video sequel Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, Moranis has only done some infrequent voice acting, most notably in Disney's Brother Bear in 2003.
6. Grace Kelly
Kelly was one of Hollywood's most beautiful leading ladies and was positioned to be one of the biggest stars ever. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1954, then won the Oscar in 1955 for her role in The Country Girl. Then, in 1955, Kelly met Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, while at the Cannes Film Festival. The couple wed in 1956, and the newly minted princess left Hollywood behind -- some say at the insistence of her new husband. Kelly died in 1982 at the age of 52 after suffering a stroke while driving her car.
7. Cary Grant
Considered one of Hollywood's more legendary leading men, Grant had a nearly unparalleled career and is considered by many to be among the greatest actors of all time. In 1966, Grant became a father for the first time, at age 62, when he and wife Dyan Cannon welcomed their daughter, Jennifer. Grant decided to walk away from Hollywood to focus on being a father, and to give his newborn child some semblance of a normal life. Grant's last film was the 1966 comedy Walk, Don't Run. Grant died 20 years later at the age of 82.
Day, who began her show business career as a big band singer and musical performer, largely retired from acting after two decades of celebrated performances -- including her role in the 1960 comedy Pillow Talk, which earned her an Oscar nomination. After her final film performance in 1968's With Six You Get Eggroll, she starred on the successful sitcom The Doris Day Show from 1968 to 1973, and has since stepped back from the spotlight entirely.
9. Phoebe Cates
Cates gained immense fame for her role in a slew of teen comedies in the '80s -- most notably Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- but decided to retire from acting in 1994 to focus on raising her two children -- daughter Frankie and son Owen, whom she shares with husband Kevin Kline. She briefly came out of retirement to appear in the 2001 dramedy The Anniversary Party, as a favor to her friend and former Fast Times co-star,Jennifer Jason Leigh, who wrote and directed the film.
10. Olivia de Havilland
De Havilland's career began in 1935 and she continued to appear in films for over 50 years. Despite being best known for early roles in films like The Adventures of Robin Hood and Gone With the Wind, she took home her first Oscar in 1947 for her performance in To Each His Own and then again in 1950 for The Heiress, and she continued to act until her retirement following her final role in the 1988 romantic drama The Woman He Loved at the age of 72. De Havilland, who will be celebrating her 101st birthday on July 1, has remained active in the film community since her retirement, working behind the scenes to promote the arts in America.
11. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
The child star-turned-teen heartthrob began acting when he was eight years old, and became a household name with his role on the long-running sitcom Home Improvement. After the beloved comedy came to an end in 1998, Thomas appeared in a number of other recurring TV roles and and provided the voices for many animated films -- most notably young Simba in Disney's The Lion King. His last major role came in 2005, with a guest-starring stint on Veronica Mars. He decided to step away from the spotlight to focus on his education at Harvard, where he studied philosophy and history, graduating in 2010. Thomas made a handful of guest appearances on the sitcom Last Man Standing, reuniting with his Home Improvement co-star and on-screen dad, Tim Allen.