Retiring from acting can be a daunting prospect for many performers. With their careers focused on honing the craft and entertaining audiences, the question of “what comes next?” is always looming in the distance. However, for some retired actors, the answer to that question has led them down unexpected and fulfilling paths. From becoming veterinarians to writers to even brewmasters, these former stars have found new passions and purpose in life.
Let’s explore the diverse post-acting careers of a few notable retired actors and the inspiring stories behind their transitions.
1. Gene Hackman – Novelist
Gene Hackman decided to retire from acting in 2004 after a very prolific career that spanned over fifty years. Since then, Hackman has largely stayed out of the public eye, and we don’t know much about his current activities. In a 2011 interview with Larry King, Hackman revealed that he had taken up painting as a hobby and also mentioned writing several novels, at least three of which have been published.
2. Kirk Cameron – Evangelical minister
Kirk Cameron, aka Mike Seaver from Growing Pains, became an evangelical minister in the late 1990s after he quit acting. His decision to become a minister was largely influenced by his Christian faith and a desire to use his platform to share his beliefs with others. In the early 1990s, he started to get involved with various Christian organizations and ministries and eventually decided to use his celebrity status to spread his message of faith to a wider audience. However, with his conservative views on abortion and homosexualism, maybe he should have continued acting.
3. Peter Ostrum – Veterinarian
After starring in Wolly Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Ostrum returned to his hometown in Ohio and completed his education. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell University in 1984 and has been working as a veterinarian ever since. In interviews, Ostrum has spoken about his love of animals and his passion for veterinary medicine, so it’s a good thing he stopped pursuing the Hollywood route.
4. Nikki Blonsky – Beautician
Nikki Blonsky, known for her role in the movie Hairspray, transitioned from acting to beautician. Blonsky has stated that the decision to pursue a career in cosmetology came after a period of soul-searching and personal growth. In 2011, she got her cosmetology license and started her hairstylist career right then and there at a shoe stop.
5. Dylan Sprouse – Brewmaster
You may have heard a lot about Cole Sprouse, but what happened to his twin brother Dylan? After the Suit Life on Deck, Sprouse abandoned his acting career and went to college – a perfect environment to start brewing your own beer. Sprouse took up brewing as a hobby for years and decided to turn his passion into a business by opening his own brewery in Brooklyn, New York, called the All-Wise Meadery.
6. Jack Gleeson – Student
After successfully aggravating every GoT fan, Gleeson returned to his studies at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, where he had been studying philosophy before he went viral. Gleeson has also been involved in various charitable causes, such as the One Campaign, which aims to end global poverty and preventable disease. While Gleeson has not ruled out the possibility of returning to acting in the future, he has stated that his focus, for the time being, is on his studies and his work in philanthropy and social activism.
7. Michael C. Maronna – Electrician
Marona, widely known for his two iconic roles in the 90s, left the entertainment industry in the early 2000s and became an electrician. Yes, that’s Kevin McCallister’s brother and Big Pete from The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Maronna has always been a tinkerer, especially when electrical wires were involved. After his acting career slowed down, the man decided to become a full-time electrician and has since worked on various electrical projects, including many movie sets.
8. Sarah Michelle Gellar – Entrepreneur
In 2015, Sarah Michelle Gellar co-founded a baking kit delivery service called “Foodstirs” with two of her close friends. The company’s goal is to provide customers with high-quality, organic baking mixes and ingredients that are both healthy and fun to use. Gellar has stated that her passion for baking and her desire to promote healthier eating habits were key factors in her decision to launch the business.
9. Frankie Muniz – Racing Driver
Muniz’s interest in racing began while he was still playing the lead role in Malcolm in the Middle, and he started racing competitively in 2004. He has since competed in various races, including the Pro/Celebrity Race at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in 2006, which he won. He also co-owns a racing team called “Frankie Muniz Racing” and has competed in several endurance races. In addition to all that, Frankie is also a musician and has played drums in several bands, including the indie rock band “Kingsfoil.” And as a cherry on top, Muniz is a co-owner of several businesses in Arizona, including an olive oil company and a luxury car rental company. Go, Malcolm!