Many of us will always remember the first movie in which we saw our favorite actor—it was when we fell in love with their talent, after all. But what about their last? All acting careers come to an end, and often it’s not because the star passes—it’s because they officially or unofficially choose to retire. While some actors have made official retirement announcements, others have simply quietly stopped working. Whether they want to enjoy their older years or simply fell out of love with making movies, the following 13 stars may never act again.
With an acting career that has spanned more than 50 years, Jack Nicholson is a Hollywood legend. But we may never see him star in another movie again. The 84-year-old multiple Oscar winner’s most recent role was in the 2010 movie How Do You Know—and it may have been his last role too.
Nicholson has never officially announced his retirement, but close friend Peter Fonda all but confirmed it when talking to Page Six back in 2017. “I think he is basically retired,” Fonda said at the time. “I don’t want to speak for him, but he has done a lot of work and he has done very well as a person financially.”
At the height of her career as a child star, Amanda Bynes was everywhere. After starring in her own show on Nickelodeon, she went on to snag lead roles in a handful of teen comedy movies, including She’s the Man and What a Girl Wants. But after starring in Easy A alongside Emma Stone, Bynes took to Twitter to announce her retirement in 2010.
“If I don’t love something anymore, I stop doing it. I don’t love acting anymore, so I’ve stopped doing it. I know 24 is a young age to retire, but you heard it here first,” she wrote, via EW.
Though Bynes, who is now 35, said in a 2018 Paper interview that she was planning her comeback, so far, it hasn’t happened.
Starring in hits including My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, and Charlie’s Angels, Cameron Diaz was a Hollywood “It girl” for much of the ’90s and early ’00s. But since appearing in a remake of Annie in 2014, she has remained off screen—and there’s a good reason for that.
During a recent appearance on Kevin Hart‘s Hart to Hart talk show, Diaz (now 49) said that as she turned 40, she realized that she wanted her life to become more “manageable” and for her to be more in control of all aspects of it, rather than handing some off.
“I met my husband [Benji Madden], we started a family, all those things I didn’t have time for before,” she said. “Actually, not just have the time for but didn’t have the space to make the right decisions for me at the time to bring that in.”
She’s still quite famous, so fans might not have realized that Eva Mendes hasn’t acted since Lost River in 2014—and in the years since, she and partner Ryan Gosling have welcomed two daughters, Esmeralda and Amada, into the world. As it turns out, they’re a big part of why she’s stepped back from taking jobs on set.
In 2020, a fan asked 47-year-old Mendes on Instagram why she hadn’t been in a movie for awhile, and the star responded that being a mom has changed everything. “As a mother now, there are many roles I won’t do. There are many subject matters that I don’t want to be involved with, so it limits my choices and I’m fine with that,” she said, via Hola. “I have to set an example for my girls now. But no worry, I got some side hustles.”
The 2017 movie Phantom Thread was the last time we saw Daniel Day-Lewis, 64, in a movie role. And it’s likely the last time we ever will. A statement issued to Variety by his team the same year read, “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.”
He did end up making further comment, however. In an interview with W later in 2017, Day-Lewis said, “I didn’t want to get sucked back into another project. All my life, I’ve mouthed off about how I should stop acting, and I don’t know why it was different this time, but the impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion. It was something I had to do.”
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Portia de Rossi
Though she did briefly return to acting for the second season of the Arrested Development Netflix reboot, Portia de Rossi has been officially retired since 2017, when she appeared as Elizabeth North on Scandal. While appearing on wife Ellen DeGeneres‘ show in 2018, de Rossi shared the news, revealing that she wanted to try something different—specifically, an art company she founded called General Public.
“I was approaching 45 and I just kind of was wondering is there something that I could tackle now that I’ve never done before that would be really challenging and different,” the 48-year-old explained. “I kind of knew what acting would look like for me for the next 10, 20 years, so I decided to quit and start a business. I see a lot of women in their mid-40s thinking about the next stages of their lives, and I didn’t want to regret not trying something.”
With an acting career that began more than 60 years ago, it makes sense that Robert Redford would be ready to retire. In fact, after starring in The Old Man&the Gun in 2018, he told Entertainment Weekly that that was it for him.
“Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21,” the 85-year-old star said. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s enough.’ And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?”
Since then, the former actor has lent his voice to a couple of projects, including his grandson Dylan Redford‘s movie, Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia. But it seems that our days of seeing him onscreen are over.
Meg Ryan is known best for being an ’80s and ’90s rom-com queen, starring in When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle, just to name a few. But her most recent acting role was in a TV show called Picture Paris in 2018, and it was the first time she’d acted since Ithaca in 2015. So is that it for one of America’s sweethearts?
It’s hard to predict the future, of course, but in 2019, Ryan, 59, told The New York Times that she’s taking a break because acting made her feel burned out.
“I felt in a crazy way that, as an actor, I was burning through life experiences. Somehow I was a helicopter pilot or a journalist or an alcoholic. I was living these express-lane lives,” she said, adding, “I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.”
It’s been more than 15 years since we’ve seen Gene Hackman on screen. The Unforgiven and Royal Tenenbaums star’s last credit was 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport, and at 91 years old, it’s unlikely that he’ll be making a comeback. In a January 2020 interview, he told Empire about the health reasons behind his retirement.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually a stress test that I took in New York,” he said at the time. “The doctor advised me that my heart wasn’t in the kind of shape that I should be putting it under any stress.”
Today, Hackman is expressing himself as an author and has published three novels in the time since he’s been retired.
After 10 years of playing Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami, David Caruso retired from acting. Though he never made a formal announcement, the 2012 cancellation of the procedural seemed to be it.
Instead of finding another gig in Hollywood, Caruso opened an art gallery in California. While the former actor seems to be staying out of the spotlight as much as possible these days, there’s no doubt fans will always remember the 65-year-old for his role in CSI, as well as his work on NYPD Blue.