10 Actors Who Had Big Movie Roles And Left Hollywood, According To Reddit

The recent announcement that Shelley Duvall will return to the big screen after a long hiatus is welcome news for those who enjoyed her performance in The glow. Although she had a lot of success in Hollywood 20 years ago, she decided it wasn’t for her anymore.

Duvall isn’t the only one to decide that Hollywood stardom isn’t worth the hassle and headache of staying in business. After achieving a measure of success in a particular film, some careers tumble into other fields. Reddit users have identified a number of such actors.


Peter Ostrum

Grandpa Joe, Charlie and Willy Wonka are all looking at something

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is often considered one of the best family movies of all time. It manages to stay true to the disturbing spirit of Roald Dahl’s novel, but also has a lighter touch. There’s also no question that his hero, Charlie, is charmingly portrayed by Peter Ostrum.

LijeBailey42 notes, “Professionally, he became a veterinarian, although he has attended many cast reunions (conventions, DVD commentary, etc.) over the years.” Given how easy it is, especially for child actors, to break their life through early stardom to derail, Ostrum’s career choice and his success are all the more remarkable.

Danny Lloyd

Danny talks to his imaginary friend in The Shining

For some, The glow is one of the best horror movies of all time (even if it leaves a lot to be desired as a Stephen King adaptation). There’s no question that Danny Lloyd’s portrayal of Danny Torrance is one of the best aspects of the film, as it brings out the essence of the character.

An8thofFeanor has this to say: “He became a professor at a community college and went off-screen until a brief cameo doctor sleep.” Like so many other child actors, he made the wise decision to leave Hollywood behind and pursue a career with fewer trials and potential pitfalls.

Harold Russell

Harold Russell plays the piano during the best years of our lives

The best years of our lives is truly a masterpiece of classic Hollywood. Among other things, it’s an emotionally resonant exploration of the types of lives people try to lead after a cataclysmic event like World War II. Of particular note is the actor Harold Russell, who lost both hands in real life and whose character also lived through in the film.

CaptainCanuck15 reminds the reader that “director William Wyler encouraged him to go back to school after production The best years of our lives wrapped up.” Given how strong Russell’s performance was (he won an Oscar for it), it’s still pretty sad that he didn’t pursue a longer career in the industry.

Claudia Wells

Jennifer looks shocked in Back to the Future

That Back to the Future Movies are some of the most popular movies of the 1980s and still hold a strong nostalgia for many who grew up during that time. Claudia Wells was particularly notable for portraying the character of Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly’s girlfriend.

However, she did not return for the sequel. As rnilbog writes, “She did this to take care of her mother, who was suffering from cancer.” In fact, she later became a successful businesswoman herself, demonstrating just how possible it is to carve out a career away from the limelight even after such a high-profile role.

Jaye Davidson

Dil watches The Crying Game

The Wine Game drew quite a bit of comment when it was published. This was in large part because there is a transgender character, Dil, a revelation that occurs throughout the film that was considered a “twist” at the time and is obviously problematic now. Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of the character has rightly been praised for its emotional richness and authenticity.

As oohlah2 says, “Jaye Davidson […] was nominated for an Oscar for his first film, The Crying Game, in 1992. After that, he only did three more films, including Stargate.” Like many before and after, Davidson made the decision to leave the industry before it could crush him.

Ariana Richards

Lex looked shocked

Jurassic Park is arguably one of the best films of the 1990s and casts a very long shadow over the history of science fiction. It also featured a very memorable cast of characters, including young Lex, who proves to be something of a computer genius, and her ability to manipulate computers is exactly what allows her to reboot the park’s power supply.

Although Ariana Richards gave a memorable performance in the film, she didn’t pursue many projects afterward. As ConstableGrey says, she “had a few smaller roles in the ’90s, but then became a full-time artist.”

Moira Scherer

Victoria puts her hands on her temples in The Red Shoes

Moira Shearer is best known for appearing in the haunting and beautiful film The red shoes. She delivered a remarkable performance, all the more so as she was training a dancer and not an actress.

As Vernawoods notes, “She was so anxious to take the part The red shoes because she didn’t think she could return to her ballet career after that because ballet was never taken seriously in film. She’s really only acted in two other Powell & Pressburger films.” Although she acted in remarkably few films, she earned her place in the Hollywood firmament because of it The red shoes.

Peter Hinwald

Rocky sits on a pommel horse and sees Dr.  frank on

There are few movies like that The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is widely regarded as one of the best cult films. Though Tim Curry starred as the adorable Dr. Frank steals, Peter Hinwood also made an impression as the muscle-bound hunk the doctor creates.

In fact, however, this was one of only three film appearances he had. AnyNamesLeftAnymore writes, “Without looking down, Peter Hinwood as the Rocky Horror just didn’t like acting and he’s an antique dealer now.” Though he now appreciates the quiet life he leads, he still makes an impact in Rocky Horror leave behind.

George Lazenby

George Lazenby as James Bond in a tuxedo

Many actors have slipped into the iconic role of James Bond. While George Lazenby isn’t typically considered one of the best Bonds, having only ever acted in one film, he still deserves a lot of credit for being able to pull off the role fairly seamlessly.

CassiusCreed has this to say about Lazenby’s career: “George Lazenby played James Bond once and then gave it all away. There is a documentary about him called become Bond which is great. The life this guy led was absurd.” While he may not be as prominent as Connery, Moore, Brosnan or Craig, it’s still impossible not to admire Lazenby.


A man and woman hold hands in Dancer in the Dark

Though perhaps better known for her music, Bjork has dabbled in other performing arts, most notably acting. Most notably, as sgmctabnxjs points out, “Björk wore Lars von Triers dancers in the dark. She was awarded Best Actress at Cannes and at the European Film Awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe. The film itself also won major awards. Afterwards, she said she would never act again (although she’s done a little since then, but nothing that big).”

Given her self-imposed exile from Hollywood, it’s all the more remarkable that she appears in the dark historical epic The Northman. Though her appearance there is brief, it is definitely unforgettable.

NEXT: 9 actors with the longest gaps between starring roles


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