Just because we might love a particular actor doesn’t automatically mean that acting is what they’ll do for the rest of their lives. Some beloved actors, from child stars to grownup celebs, gave up acting and picked entirely different paths in their lives.
While some became writers and reporters (in my biased opinion, the very best career paths ever), others were more adventurous with their aspirations, going for PhDs, working as nurses and soldiers, and even going into law.
Bored Panda has dug deep to find out what former actors went on to do with their lives, so scroll on down, upvote the career path changes that you think are the coolest, and let us know which of these actors’ roles you enjoyed in films the most.
Hollywood’s Ultimate Insider, Mike Sington, explained to Bored Panda that some fans believe that acting is a lifelong career because they only hear about them when they’re acting. “When they take a regular job, they fall out of the media’s attention and fans forget about them,” the celebrity and entertainment industry expert said. Read on for our full interview with Mike!
Rick Moranis, The Star Of 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' Became A Stay-At-Home Dad To Care Of His 2 Children After His Wife Passed Away In 1991
Karyn Parsons, Former Star Of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. After Playing The Role Of Hilary Banks For Six Years, She Moved On To Nonprofit Work. She Founded Sweet Blackberry, A Non-Profit Focused On Teaching Children About Black History
Peter Ostrum, Who Played Charlie In Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Is Now A Dairy Veterinarian
It’s far harder to switch careers for well-known individuals like actors than it is for regular folks because there’s an ungodly amount of attention directed at the stage… and celebrities are right in the center of the spotlight.
“It’s difficult to switch careers for an actor because doing so brings with it a feeling of failure, which it shouldn’t. And switching careers is done under public scrutiny for actors, which makes it even more difficult,” celeb expert Mike said.
Jeff Cohen, Who Played Chunk In The Goonies, Is Now A Lawyer
Danny Lloyd, Who Played Danny Torrance In The Shining, Is Now A Biology Professor At Elizabethtown Community And Technical College In Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Kal Penn From Harold & Kumar Nabbed A Serious Position As The Associate Director In The White House Office Of Public Engagement
He pointed out that establishing a career as a successful actor is a huge accomplishment and it doesn’t happen as often as we might think. Giving up such an accomplishment in exchange for something else is “a major risk.” Though the expert added that “at times, you have to do what you have to do.” Difficult, life-changing decisions shouldn’t be made lightly, but they shouldn’t be a prison that stops you from your other dreams, either.
Mara Wilson, Who Played The Titular Character In Matilda, Is Now A Writer
Lucas Babin, Who Played Spider In School Of Rock, Became The District Attorney For Tyler County, Texas
Hollywood’s Ultimate Insider, Mike, gave Bored Panda a further sneak-peek into the acting industry. He detailed that actors tend to have a lot of downtime on sets so they can pursue various other activities. That is unless you’re the star of the show and you’re carrying the entire project on your back.
Jennifer Stone, Who Played Harper On Wizards Of Waverly Place, Is Now A Registered Nurse
Erik Estrada, Who Played Officer Francis Llewellyn "Ponch" Poncherello On Chips, Became A Real-Life Police Officer In St. Anthony, Idaho
Ariana Richards Most Known For Her Role In Jurassic Park Became A Full-Time Painter
“For some, it can be an all-consuming profession, but for the vast majority of actors, it’s not uncommon to go weeks or months between acting jobs. It’s one of the most unstable and non-consistent professions one can choose. I have huge respect for anyone who’s successful at it,” Mike shared his admiration for actors and their ability to weather the uncertainty inherent to their chosen profession.
Frankie Muniz Of "Malcolm In The Middle" Has Become A Legitimate Professional Racer, Even Earning An Award For Sportsmanship From His Peers. Muniz Also Manages An Olive Oil Shop In Arizona
Josh Saviano Who Played Paul From The Wonder Years Now Works As A Lawyer In His Native New York
Charlie Korsmo, Who Played Jackie In Hook, Is A Law Professor At The Case Western Reserve University School Of Law
Switching careers can be stressful because we’re uncertain about a lot of things that might happen in the future: from how our daily routines will change to how this will change our long-term financial and other prospects.
Freddie Prinze, Jr. Known For “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Scooby Doo” Is Now A Chef And A Cookbook Author
In The ’50s, Tommy Rettig Was The Adorable Boy Whose Sidekick Was The Ubiquitous Lassie. After Lassie He Found Work As A Computer Software Engineer.
Ali Mcgraw From "Love Story" Followed Her True Passions And Started Rallying For Animal Rights And Also Became A Yoga Instructor
But it’s not only that. Large career changes mean massively changing your life, too. You’re changing your goals, your purpose, your aspirations and going on a journey of self-discovery. As anyone who’s ever had to go through a small identity crisis about who they are and what they value most in life will know, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine when you feel like you’re drifting without any direction.
Michael Schoeffling Known For "Sixteen Candles" And "Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken" Now Works As A Carpenter And Runs A Woodworking Shop
Jerry Mathers, Who Played Beaver Cleaver On Leave It To Beaver, Became A Sergeant In The Air Force Reserve
Bridgit Mendler, Who Played Teddy Duncan On Good Luck Charlie, Is Pursuing A Degree At Harvard Law School
For one thing, you’ll have to deal with a lot of extra stress. And even though there are ways to manage it with exercise, meditation, social support, etc., it can, at times, become overwhelming. So your health, both physical and mental, can suffer if you don’t see a clear path forward.
Former Two And A Half Men Star Angus T. Jones, Who Ditched Acting At Age 21. These Days, Jones Is Working On The Management Side Of Tonite, A Production Company Co-Run By Diddy's Son, Justin Combs
Taran Noah Smith Who Played Mark Taylor "Home Improvement" Is Now A Carpenter
Maia Brewton Starred In The 1987 Box Office Hit Adventures In Babysitting And Spent Three Seasons On The Fox Sitcom Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. The Actress Currently Works As A Lawyer
We sometimes tend to forget that actors are human beings just like us and don’t have everything figured out perfectly. So going from acting to trying something else entirely can make celebrities behave just like us.
Danielle Fishel Who Played Topanga In "Boy Meets World" Is Now A Journalist
Jonathan Taylor Thomas Who Played Randy Taylor In "Home Improvement" Is Now A Writer
Nikki Blonsky, Who Played Tracy Turnblad In Hairspray, Was A Makeup Artist At Superstar Salon In New York
What’s important in these moments of career transition is keeping a positive mindset on the one hand and having a clear-cut action plan on the other. Being optimistic and grateful for what you have will sustain you in moments of difficulty while having even a rough idea of what you need to do will move you forward and give you a sense of accomplishment. So, despite all the media attention and the uncertainty, sometimes you’ve got to aim for your dreams—even if that means leaving something that you love, like acting, behind.