Cameron Diaz was making up to $42 million per movie. Then she left it all behind.

Some celebrities adore the swarms of cameras and die-hard fans following their every move — until the day they die

But what becomes of Hollywood's best and brightest when they've had enough of life in the spotlight, leaving behind their legacy for a quieter, simpler, much less intrusive life?

That's the life Cameron Diaz chose to lead after shooting to fame at just 19 years old, when she starred opposite Jim Carrey in the 1994 film The Mask.

Since then, she's been in several major films, including The Holiday, What Happens in Vegas, Bad Teacher and The Other Woman. Her final project was the 2014 movie Annie, before she dipped out of the spotlight in 2018. 

"Just, the management of me as a human being… Cameron Diaz is a machine. But for my personal, spiritual self, I was realising that one part of me that functioned at a high level wasn’t enough," she explained of her step back on  Kevin Hart's talk show, Hart to Heart.

She did return for a *very brief* moment in 2022, filming her Netflix movie Back In Action alongside Jamie Foxx (which is yet to be released)

But the actor, who has reportedly made $200 million (AUD) for her movie roles (including $42 million for Bad Teacher, her highest-paying role), has chosen once again to return to a quieter life, where she can raise her three-year-old daughter, Raddix, in peace.

"These back-to-back, 10-hour workdays have been a lot on her and she hates being away from Raddix," a source close to Diaz told the Daily Mail.


"Cameron loves being a mum more than anything in the world."

Watch: Alternative Christmas movies to get you in the holiday spirit. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Here are 17 other celebrities who quit being famous for a 'normal' life.

Mia Wasikowska.

Mia Wasikowska doesn't want to be as famous as she once was. Image: Disney/Getty.


Wasikowska was born and raised in Canberra before she made her acting debut in the Aussie drama series All Saints in 2004. 

The actor moved to the US in 2008 for the HBO drama TV series In Treatment, and in 2010, she made it big when she landed the starring role in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. 

Instantly, Wasikowska became famous – but she didn't enjoy the spotlight. 

"It's great, and there are lots of great things, [but] the perception of it is quite different from the reality, and it didn't suit me as a person. You can really lose perspective because you're treated quite strangely. When that's your only reality, it's quite strange," she told IndieWire in 2023.

"If I can have the best of both worlds, which is dip in and out of it occasionally, I'd be really happy, but I wouldn't ever be in that place where I was just on a treadmill.

"I want to do more things in life other than be in a trailer." 

Gene Hackman.

Gene Hackman in 1971 and 2003. Image: Getty.


In the '60s, '70s and '80s, Gene Hackman was a huge name in Hollywood.

His first ever role was as 'Buck Barrow' in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, earning his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Other breakout roles that earned him critical acclaim followed in the 1970s, including I Never Sang for My Father, 1972’s The French Connection, 1989’s Mississippi Burning and 1993’s Unforgiven.

He's reported to have made AUD$117 million during his time in Hollywood.


But in the 2000s, he disappeared from the spotlight. In 2008, it was confirmed he'd officially retired from acting after 40 successful years in showbiz.

Hackman briefly returned to narrate two documentaries but then transitioned to a career as a novelist, co-authoring historical fiction novels with Daniel Lenihan.

"His health is good, he still bicycles, does yard work and he’s a great handyman," an insider told Closer in February 2020 after Gene turned 90.

"After all the drama of Gene’s career, he loves the peaceful life he shares with the lovely Betsy [his wife]."

Peter Ostrum.

Peter Ostrum in 1971 and 2023. Image: Getty.


Many would remember Peter Ostrum as the little boy with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

His portrayal as 'Charlie Bucket' in the Gene Wilder-led fantasy film might have shot him right into fame, but he decided quickly after that Hollywood wasn't for him.

In fact, his debut at 12 years old remains his only acting credit on IMDb to date.

"The film industry just wasn’t for me," he shared during a November 2016 speech at the University of Missouri.  

He graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984 and pursued a career as a veterinary practitioner. He also got married in 1987 and has two children.

Nikki Blonsky.

Nikki Blonsky in 2007 and 2022. Image: New Line Cinema/Getty.


Before she landed Hairspray in 2007, Nikki Blonsky was a teen working at Cold Stone Creamery.

"I look back now and I'm like, 'I was a 17-year-old kid when I joined that production and got my dream role,'" she told Screen Rant in 2022 on the film's 15th anniversary. "... I'm in my 30s now and people are still celebrating Hairspray like it just came out last week. I'm eternally grateful for that."

Sixteen years on from the role, Blonksy admits she struggled to land other gigs.

"I did not take a conscious step out of Hollywood and so long as I’m alive, I never will," she told Out Magazine. "Singing and acting has been my dream since I was three. It kind of feels like the industry left me."

In 2011, she told fans she was working as a makeup artist. She is now also a hairstylist and has launched a jewellery line. 


Jeffrey Bertan Cohen

Jeffrey Bertan Cohen has a regular job now. Image: Warner Bros/Instagram @jeff_b_cohen.

Jeffrey Cohen landed the gig of a lifetime when he played 'Chunk' in the 1985 Steven Spielberg film The Goonies. In 2015, the former actor admitted he was forced to give up acting – or rather, "acting gave me up".

"There were basically about four fat kids in town, so every time there was a fat kid role you saw the same people at the audition," he told Daily Mail.


"It was survival of the fattest. But when I hit puberty, it was a career-ender for me. I was transforming from Chunk to hunk and I couldn’t get roles anymore."

He continued, "It was terrible. My first love was acting, but puberty had other ideas. It was a forced retirement. I didn't give up acting. Acting gave me up."

Cohen is now an attorney in the US, and co-founded the law firm Cohen & Gardner.

Carrie Henn.

Carrie Hen in Aliens, 1986, and in 2023. Image: Getty.


Carrie Henn was 12 years old when she found notoriety as 'Newt' in the 1986 film Aliens. 

It was considered one of the best sci-fi films of the time and is still a cult classic. Henn even won a Saturn Award and a Young Artist Award for her performance. 

However, the film was her first and last, telling The Sun, "It was a decision that I made."

She ended up pursuing a career in teaching, which Henn said in 2016 people don't really understand.

"That’s what a lot of people have a hard time understanding," she told Tulsa World. "They don’t understand that [acting] wasn’t my passion. It wasn’t my dream. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it an amazing experience? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Of course.

"But it wasn’t my passion. Teaching was."

Danny Lloyd.

Jack Nicholson and Danny Lloyd in The Shining, 1980, and Danny Lloyd in 2023. Image: Getty.


Daniel Lloyd is a former child actor known for his role in The Shining.

But these days, he is an associate professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, working in the biology department.

He told The Guardian that while he tried to audition for other roles, he had "no success really" and finally quit acting when he was around 13 or 14 years old. 

"I wouldn't say it was upsetting. I always enjoyed it. It was exciting. But as I got a little bit older, it got kind of boring," he said in 2017. 

"Then I had to tell my parents that I was ready to quit. Which they were fine with. They were never stage parents. They made sure I had a normal upbringing."


He added, "I don’t regret trying acting. When I decided to stop, I don’t regret that either. At the end of the day, it's not a huge deal. Well, it is and it isn't. I still have to grade the tests at school, get the kids to bed. All the regular stuff."

Jennifer Stone.

Jennifer Stone is now working as a nurse. Image: Disney/Jennifer Stone via Teen Vogue.

Jennifer Stone was a Disney star who transitioned to a completely different career in 2019. 


Most people would know her from her role on Wizards Of Waverly Place, but she also made her own film with Disney called Harriet The Spy: Blog Wars in 2010.

Whilst she had a successful career, she was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes in her early twenties and left acting shortly after. 

The former actor went on to graduate from nursing school and maintained a relatively private life until COVID-19 hit the US in 2020. That's when she began documenting her job in the ER.

"I can only speak for myself because I think every nurse and person has their own way of processing life. I think, as a nurse, you’re just hit with it a lot more upfront and to be honest, I look at it this way: during a 12-hour shift, it’s not about me. It’s about putting myself aside to help somebody else," she said, per The Sun.

"I try to stay really focused during those 12 hours to be as effective and helpful as I can and then just decompress when I get home. I’m a big fan of bubble baths, Drag Race, and watching medical shows, so I could watch somebody else do it."

Dylan Sprouse.

Dylan Sprouse isn't as interested in acting as he used to be. Image: Disney/Getty.


Dylan Sprouse rose to fame alongside his twin brother Cole on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life On Deck in the mid-2000s. While Cole chose to continue building his successful acting career, Dylan has been less keen on taking on roles and in 2015, he began overseeing the successful All-Wise Meadery in Brooklyn. 

Of choosing not to take on new roles in major films or TV shows, Sprouse told the NY Daily News"I think it’s just f**king boring.

"I don’t mean to be so blunt... I don’t think it really reaches the heart of what acting is. Like, if I wanted to just do big films that didn’t have substance or didn’t have anything to say about who I am and what I like to respond to, I don’t think it would be fair to the people who have also kind of responded to the stuff I’ve done... I think it’s also too conceited, truly."


He hasn't ruled out acting and still comes back for new projects sometimes, but it's not a passion anymore – nor is it something he's invested in.

"I had just come back into acting after years of being away, I didn’t want to try and lead a bandstand," he explained. "I wanted to grease the wheels slowly, and even though I think I'm prepared to do something like that, I didn't really want to... I'm not doing this for clout anymore, you know?"

Jon Gosselin.

 Jon and Kate Gosselin in 2008. Image: Getty.


Jon and Kate Gosselin might not have been "Hollywood famous" but they sure were well known in the reality TV world for their hit show Jon & Kate Plus 8. 

It starred Kate, Jon and their eight children. Their show, which began in 2007, officially concluded in 2017 and included a few bumps along the way, including a tumultuous separation, a cancellation of the series and a heated custody battle.

Eventually, Kate was awarded full legal custody but the pair shared physical custody. There was a lot of drama but afterwards, Jon returned to his profession as an IT technician and became a DJ. 

He's had other regular jobs too, including working as a solar panel installer, waiter, and prep cook but now has a position as an IT director in healthcare.

Michael Schoeffling.

Michael Schoeffling in Sylvester, 1985. Image: Getty.


Michael Schoeffling was a heartthrob in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles and was in the process of carving out a career set to make him a legend in Hollywood. 

His other remarkable projects included the 1990 flick Mermaids and the 1991 movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, along with modelling.

But by the time the films had been released, Schoeffling had already walked away from acting. 

In 1990, he told the Los Angeles Times"Actors spend most of their time out of work, so I actually spend more time making furniture. The thing about furniture that's much better than acting is that it's just me. There's no director, no script – the concept is me unless a client wants something."

He now lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and runs his carpentry and furniture business, where he sells handcrafted items, according to The Sun.


Michael Anthony Vitar.

Michael Anthony Vitar is now a fireman. Image: 20th Century Fox/Facebook via Daily Mail.

Michael Anthony Vitar's most notable roles were in The Sandlot and The Mighty Ducks. However, he left his acting career in 1997 and pursued a job as a paramedic and later became a firefighter for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Andrew Shue.

Andrew Shue is now the co-founder of a non-profit. Image: IMdB/Getty.


Many would remember Andrew Shue from Melrose Place, but the actor left the industry after his time on the hit series, and now runs his non-profit – Do Something – and the social networking site CafeMom.

He was married to Amy Robach, who was a co-anchor on GMA3 and infamously had an affair with co-anchor TJ Holmes.

Jamie Walters.

Jamie Walters is now a fireman. Image: Getty.


Jamie Walters was a successful actor and singer, best known for his roles on Beverly Hills, 90210 and The Heights. But the former Hollywood heartthrob transitioned to a normal job as a firefighter and paramedic in 2002.

Staci Keanan.

Staci Keanan went on to become a lawyer. Image: Getty.


Staci Keanan is renowned for roles in My Two Dads and Step by Step in the '90s, but she dropped off the radar to get a law degree.

As of 2013, she is a full-time attorney in Los Angeles and works as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School. 

Willa Ford.

Willa Ford has her own firm now. Image: Getty.


Willa Ford is best known for her song 'I Wanna Be Bad', and was not just an artist but an actor as well. But in the early 2010s, she switched from a successful career in music to one in interior design.

She even has her own interior design firm.

"I decided to stop acting altogether. I called my agents and said, 'I'm done. I’m not going to act. I’m going to focus on my design firm, and I’ll let you guys know when I’m ready to come back,"' she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019.

"... Now I feel in control of my own destiny."

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.