15 Celebrities Who Walked Away at the Peak of their Careers


We all work hard to build our careers and when it finally happens that we become successful, we continue to work hard to become even more successful. That’s what happens in Hollywood, too. Actors, singers, actresses and everyone in between work hard to finally achieve the kind of fame and success they’ve always dreamed of having, and they don’t stop. For some, however, the fame and success is too much. Or maybe they simply wanted to walk away while they were ahead. Either way, read on to find out which celebrities walked away from their careers at the peak.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Trevor Project)


Leonardo DiCaprio

Technically, Leonardo DiCaprio has had two peaks to his career, and it’s bigger and better than ever right now. However, back in 1997 when he became an overnight sensation after the film Titanic, he became a little weary of the fame and decided to take a few years off. He was the hottest thing in Hollywood at the time, and it surprised people to see him already leaving the spotlight. They thought it would be hard for him to come back after leaving when he was more famous than ever, but his current career has gone to show that’s just not the case.

(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)


David Schwimmer

He was one of the most famous faces in the world, and he played one of the most famous characters in the world, Ross, from Friends. Now he’s not doing anything. While all of his former sitcom co-stars took their careers to new heights following the end of the hit series, Schwimmer did a few minor projects here and there before eventually disappearing from the spotlight and leaving Hollywood. He’s around on occasion, but he certainly did not take advantage of his fame when the sitcom ended the same way everyone else did.

(Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)


Meg Ryan

She was the lead character in some of the biggest films of the 90s and she was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood.  She suddenly disappeared from the spotlight, not to be heard from again. She will show up every now and again on a red carpet or a premier, but for the most part Ryan hasn’t been seen or heard from since she disappeared at the height of her career. She’s involved in a few smaller projects from time to time, but nowhere near the caliber of the career she had before she left tinseltown.  Now Ryan has dabbled in directing so we’ll be seeing her again soon.

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)


Dave Chappelle

He is hilarious, and people loved him. So where did he go? Who knows? Dave Chappelle seemed to disappear from the limelight just as his career in comedy was really starting to take off. The problem is that most comedians do really well for themselves on television and in the movies because people love comedians.   But Chappelle just decided to travel and get away from it all as the pressure seemed to mount.  He’s finally back and booked a series of shows in NYC which are already sold out.  Chappelle says he never really quit, he was just 7 years late for work.

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Chevy Chase

He is the man everyone loved in comedic roles. He was the biggest star in Hollywood during the National Lampoon era, but he disappeared from the spotlight not too long after his career finally started to take off. The reason for his disappearance, however, is the fact that he turned down a role that would have made him an even bigger star. He was initially asked to take the role in American Beauty, which eventually won an Oscar for Kevin Spacey, who did accept the role. After that, Chase’s career went down.  He did however come back to be in Community but we think he should have been bigger.

(Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)


Katherine Heigl

She was such a hot actress when she was on Grey’s Anatomy. Her career really took off and she took some parts in some really great movies as the lead character, such as Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. Unfortunately, she let her rising fame get to her at the height of her career and she started saying some unfortunate things about her co-stars, bosses and her jobs. This ultimately led to her bad reputation as difficult to work with, which led to her losing out on some major roles, which led to her practically handing over her career at the height of her fame.  So while she didn’t technically walk away, a hiatus certainly occurred.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Renee Zellweger

She was Bridget Jones, she was married to Kenny Chesney and she was one of the most famous leading actresses of her time before she up and disappeared. While she isn’t completely gone from Hollywood, she’s not doing anything major in terms of film. She’s had a few smaller roles, taken some time to do charitable work and stay out of the limelight. She has the good fortune to have worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but she left her career and hasn’t done anything noteworthy since 2010.

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Macaulay Culkin

Everyone loved him as a child star when he appeared in what seems to be everyone’s favorite Christmas movie of all time, Home Alone. It looked like this kid was going to make a name for himself in Hollywood as a big child star who might actually make it into his adult years, and he was famous for a while. He was the most famous kid in town for several years until he suddenly stopped appearing in movies, started spending a lot of time with Michael Jackson and making a few questionable decisions. He’s now doing nothing related to Hollywood.  He tried his hand at music but fans haven’t been easy to get.

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Neve Campbell

In the 2000s when the movies Scream and Wild Things came out, she was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Her roles shot her straight to fame and it looked like she was the next IT thing in Hollywood. However, once she was done with those roles she sort of just took off and hasn’t been heard from since. Every now and again her name will show up somewhere for making an appearance or taking a small role, but she just ditched her career right as it was taking off and turning her into a big star.

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Denise Richards

She was one of the most beautiful, most famous women in Hollywood in the 2000s, and she continued to make headlines for her roles, her looks and her marriage to Charlie Sheen for many years. However, following her many roles in acting and her divorce and very public issues with Sheen, she disappeared from the spotlight. Rumor has it she wants to raise her kids away from the spotlight and away from their father’s many issues, but she left her career when it was really starting to get good. The things parents do for their children.

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Freddie Prinze Jr.

He was the lead character in some of the biggest romantic comedies – and horror films – of the decade, and he is a really good-looking guy. He met and married Sarah Michelle Gellar (the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and had a couple of kids and hasn’t done anything else for his career in several years. He’s had a few small parts (like one in 24), but it’s so hard to believe that the guy at the front of everyone’s list of desired actors would decide to leave his career when he did.

(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)



He was one of the most popular rap stars of the 1990s. Mase was Puff Daddy’s (aka Sean Combs, Puffy, Puff, P. Diddy, Diddy) protégé and he was famous. All of a sudden he stopped rapping, left this career in the dust and decided to become a minister. He was on the top of his game when he left, and when he attempted to make a comeback more than five years later, it didn’t work out so well for him. He took part in a few collaborations before he finally left the scene for good.

(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)


Josh Hartnett

Back in the early 2000s he was one of the hottest actors in the world. He fronted major motion pictures with memorable characters and he cemented his place in Hollywood as a major heartthrob. However, he quickly left the scene and hasn’t really done much since. What he’s been doing in the past few years remains a mystery. All we know is that he hasn’t been working, which is a shame because he was doing big things when he decided to turn down some major roles in big movies and disappear at the height of his career.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Giorgio Armani)


Demi Moore

She’s not exactly out of the spotlight, but she kind of walked away from her career just as it was really getting good. Back in 1996 she became the highest paid actress around at the time, but decided to take time off and move to Idaho. She was going through a divorce from her then husband Bruce Willis. She took her kids, left, and stayed out of the spotlight for a long time. She eventually came back to Hollywood, married a much younger man in Ashton Kutcher, and ended up divorced for a second time.

(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)



She’s one of the most successful singers of our time, but she decided to walk away from her career when she became famous. She was on top when she got pregnant and decided to walk away from the spotlight a few years ago. The rumor mill has been swirling lately that the British woman with the beautiful voice is going to make a new album and her comeback in the next year or so, but it’s not confirmed. All we know is she left when she was on top, which means people are dying for her to return to singing.

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

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