Image: Instagram / @demi.moore; @shaniatwain
To us "normals", life as a Hollywood superstar seems pretty sweet! The glitz, the fame, THE MONEY. Most aspiring actors and actresses will never achieve the level of fame that mega-stars have, but plenty set out to try. There's just something so glamorous about that lifestyle, at least from our perspective. Movie premieres and magazine covers and huge mansions in the hills - who wouldn't be about that life?! But of course, even the most amazing lives aren't always as they appear. Yes, Hollywood stars have more than most of us could ever imagine. But they also deal with some pretty heavy stuff. No privacy, constant scrutiny, lots of time spent away from their families. Raising a family in Hollywood is no easy feat, and these stars who quit Hollywood wanted to focus on their kids.
It's hard to believe that someone would just walk away from a paycheck with that many zeroes on it. But when it comes to parenthood, we make tough decisions all the time. Some stars don't want to spend months away from their kids and miss all the important stuff. Some don't want to raise their families in the superficial trappings of Hollywood. And some would rather stay home with their kids than return to work (we can totally relate!). These are some stars who quit Hollywood, put their hot careers on hold, and moved away from the fast-paced life to raise their kids. We're sure it wasn't an easy decision. And it's a big sacrifice! But that's what parenthood is in a nutshell, right?
Image: Instagram / demi.moore
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis were EVERYWHERE in the '90s. Moore's career was on fire, with hits like Ghost, GI Jane, Indecent Proposal, Striptease, and A Few Good Men. She shocked the world when she posed pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair. She really could do no wrong that decade, and kept pumping out hit after hit after hit! But after Moore and Willis welcome daughters Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah, they took a major step back. They left the bright lights of Hollywood behind and moved their family to a small, idyllic town in Idaho named Hailey. Making the move allowed them to spend more time with their girls, and raise them in a more ... normal setting. Moore and Willis eventually returned to Hollywood when their girls were older, but that time in Idaho clearly helped their kids remain grounded and well-adjusted.
Image: Instagram / 80sfilmm
We alllllllll remember Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles, right? He was the subject of many an adolescent fantasy in the 80's and beyond. We still sort of pine for him, if we're being honest. Super stardom seemed like a given for the actor who played the heartthrob, Michael Schoeffling. We loved him in Vision Quest, Mermaids, and Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, too. But after meeting actress and model Valerie Robinson, Schoeffling called it quits in the early 90's and left acting behind. The pair married and settled down in a small town in Pennsylvania to raise a family. Now they run a pretty successful hand-crafted furniture business.
Image: Instagram / @robingwright
She will always be Princess Buttercup to us, but Robin Wright has a long and storied career as an actress. Working actors with her star power can pretty much pick and choose their roles, and Wright was careful about picking her roles once she became a mom. In fact, she and then-husband decided to move out of Hollywood completely, settling in Northern California away from the lights and cameras. Hollywood can be a weird place to raise kids, and Wright once told Babble that she didn't want to "to raise her children in this weird, sycophantic society." Now that her kids are older, she's had quite the comeback, slaying as Antiope in Wonder Woman and the still-filming sequel and ruling the free world in House of Cards.
Image: Instagram / @elizabethhurley1
From Austin Powers to Bedazzled, it was hard to miss Elizabeth Hurley in the '90s. The super-successful English actress and model starred in some pretty big movies, and was the face of Estée Lauder. Her private life garnered as much, if not more, attention than her professional career, however. She and actor Hugh Grant were one of the IT couples of the '90s, and had a long romance before a very public split in 2000. She even stood by his side after he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in 1995, and they remain very good friends to this day (he's even her son's godfather!).
Speaking of her son, after a brief relationship with businessman Steven Bing, and a scandalous DNA test after he denied paternity, Hurley removed herself and Damien from the limelight, and they retired to the English countryside where she focused on raising him and giving him a relatively normal upbringing.
Image: Instagram / @candacecbure
So if Jake Ryan was the boy we all loved, DJ Tanner was the girl we all wanted to be. Full House was a '90s TV staple, and we followed along with the Tanner family for several seasons. She worked steadily after the show ended, in various TV shows and made-for-TV-movies. But after marrying husband Valeri Bure in 1996 and having three children, Cameron Bure slowed way down. The family traded in the fast-paced life of Hollywood for the tranquil Napa Valley, and Cameron Bure took on a few small roles a year while she focused on being a devoted wife and mother. She's back as DJ Tanner in the Netflix reboot Fuller House now that her kids are older.
Image: Instagram / @greatest_stars
This is one of those stars who quit Hollywood stories that really pulls at our heartstrings. Rick Moranis was a comedy god in the 80's and 90's, starring in such films as Ghostbusters, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Spaceballs, and Little Shop of Horrors. Part of his charm was the bumbling, "aw, shucks" persona he had, and we grew up loving watching his movies. But when his wife Ann Belsky died of cancer in 1991, Moranis found himself the single father of two small children. So he packed up and focused on his kids.
In an interview, Moranis said of his hiatus, "I'm a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage to raise my kids and to do the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn't miss it."
Image: Instagram / @shaniatwain
Country music doesn't get much bigger than Shania Twain in the '90s and early naughts. The Canadian wasn't your typical country crooner, but her female empowerment anthems won over the entire world and the Grammy committee. Twain married Robert 'Mutt' Lange in 1993, and they welcomed son Eja in 2001. Twain and Lange moved to Switzerland to raise their son. But her hiatus from music to be a mom turned into a much longer break than she planned for, after Lyme disease and dysphonia weakened her singing voice. Twain returned to music in 2011, and released her first studio album in 15 years in 2017. She toured in support of that album in 2018.
Image: Instagram / @rightontv
Kellie Shanynge Jackson (Williams) is best known for her starring role as Laura Winslow on the hit 90's sitcom Family Matters. She spent nine seasons as the sarcastic, smart Laura, constantly fending off the advances of nerdy Steve Urkel. That show was absolutely fantastic, and it looked like Jackson would have a long career ahead of her! After the show ended, she starred in the ABC show What About Joan?, and filled in for Niecy Nash for six episodes as host of Clean House on the Style Network. But after marrying Hannibal Jackson in 2009 and welcoming two children, Jackson left Hollywood for good. In 2006, she created the Kellie Williams Program with Jeff Rawluk, which provided Washington D.C. area students the opportunity to produce a TV show to air on a local cable network.
Image: Instagram / @jordan_roth
Phoebe Cates starred in some of the most iconic films of the 80's, like Gremlins and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Ask any man who came of age in the 80's who their celebrity crush was, and most would probably name Cates after that red bikini scene from Fast Times. Cates married fellow actor Kevin Kline in 1989, and they had two children. She stepped out of the spotlight to focus on being a wife and mother, appearing in only one film since 1994. In 2001, she and Kline teamed up for The Anniversary Party, which also featured their two children, Owen and Greta. These days, Cates spends her time caring for her two kids and managing the boutique she opened in 2005, Blue Tree.
Image: Instagram / @verafarmiga
You can sort of tell by Vera Farmiga's filmography that she is VERY selective about the roles she takes on that take time away from her family. She's been a part of some very critically acclaimed projects like The Departed, The Conjuring, and Up in the Air. These days, you can find her playing Norman Bate's mom in Bates Motel. But Farmiga prefers to spend her time with her husband Renn Mowley and their two children on their farm in Upstate New York. She's said in interviews that she sees her family's needs as her own needs and her job as an actor will never get in the way of raising her children. In fact, so selective is Farmiga about the roles she chooses that she even has a fertilizer pile in her garden where bad scripts go!
It's hard to overstate just how enormous John Hughes' contribution to pop culture as we know it really was. The director brought us too many classic movies to list, and jump-started the careers of many of today's stars. Everything he touched turned to gold. So people were shocked when he walked away from it all in 1995. It wasn't until his death in 2009 that we learned the truth about his sudden departure and reclusive life.
In a eulogy given by his long-time pen pal Alison Byrne Fields, Fields shares what Hughes told her about his exit. Fields says, "John told me about why he left Hollywood just a few years earlier. He was terrified of the impact it was having on his sons; he was scared it was going to cause them to lose perspective on what was important and what happiness meant. And he told me a sad story about how, a big reason behind his decision to give it all up was that 'they' (Hollywood) had 'killed' his friend, John Candy, by greedily working him too hard."
Image: Instagram / @wingerdebra
Debra Winger has been nominated for an Oscar three times, including for her roles in Terms of Endearment and An Officer and a Gentleman. As far as talent goes, she has it in spades! But as we've seen, stars who quit Hollywood have different priorities. In 1995, after wrapping Forget Paris, Winger left acting and Hollywood. She chose to move back east with her son (with former partner Timothy Hutton). It's there she met and married Arliss Howard, and they welcomed a child together. Winger remained on the east coast, raising her sons and Howard's son from a previous relationship. She returned to the industry in 2001, once her boys were a bit older.
Image: Instagram / @officiallisabonet
The stunning Lisa Bonet played Denise Huxtable on the long-running sitcom The Cosby Show. But after marrying rocker Lenny Kravitz and welcoming daughter Zoë in 1988, Bonet stepped backed from the limelight to focus on her daughter. She's been very open about how having Zoë saved her life and was a wake-call that she needed to grow up. She continued to take on small roles here and there, but for the most part, she devoted her life to being a mom. Bonet and Kravitz eventually split, and she married actor Jason Momoa in 2007. Once again, Bonet put the brakes on her career to focus her time and attention on her family.
Image: Instagram / @juliaroberts
You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger movie star than Julia Roberts. Her smile can light up the darkest room, her laugh can lift the lowest of spirits, and her talent is unparalleled. Can any of us even accurately guess how many times we've seen Pretty Woman or My Best Friend's Wedding?! But after marrying Danny Moder, the couple had three children together and left the bright lights of Hollywood for the serene, slow life in New Mexico. A lot of star who quit Hollywood did so to raise their families away from that lifestyle. These days, Roberts finds time to do a few film projects in between shuttling her kids around to various sports and extracurricular activities.
Credit: Instagram / @thiswashollywood
In his 32-year career, Cary Grant starred in some of the best films ever made. But at the age of 62, he said goodbye to the Hollywood life to focus on being a dad. Despite only being married to ex-wife Dyan for a couple of years, he was absolutely devoted to daughter Jennifer. By all accounts, he worshiped his daughter, and spent as much time with her as possible after retiring from acting. In fact, he actually had all of her childhood belongings archived to preserve them forever. That is some serious dad goals, right there, and we're sure Jennifer treasured the time spent with her dad.
Image: Instagram / @revolttv
Seriously, just when his career couldn't be hotter, Dave Chapelle just up and ... disappeared. He cancelled shows and backed out of TV specials. The rumor mills started churning that he was battling some demons and needed to recover. But in reality, Chapelle just realized that raising kids in Hollywood wasn't going to work. He told the Daily News, "I never stopped being onstage. What I did was step off of the main stage…That kind of attention wouldn’t have been conducive to raising a family." Thankfully, that kind of talent never truly goes away, and Chapelle still performs on occasion.
Stars who quit Hollywood to focus on their families aren't very common. Some left for good, some worked sporadically, and some are back at it full-time now that their kids are older. It's all about prioritizing your life, and making sacrifices for what's important.