8 A-list celebrities who quit acting (then came back again)

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  • After the shock news of Cameron Diaz's 'retirement' (and subsequent backtracking), we take a look at which other celebrities have joined her in unretirement...

    Words by Victoria Fell

    The Twittersphere went into overdrive recently when Selma Blair announced in a recent interview that Cameron Diaz had retired from acting. Talking about the possibility of reuniting with Diaz for a sequel to their 2002 hit The Sweetest Thing, Blair told the press, ‘I would have liked to do a sequel, but Cameron’s retired from acting… She’s like, “I’m done.”‘

    A pretty big bombshell to drop so casually, but in another twist to this already bizarre story, it turns out Selma Blair was joking. Selma hastily backtracked: ‘Guys please, I was making a joke in an interview,’ she tweeted. ‘CAMERON DIAZ is NOT retiring from ANYTHING. And for more breaking news: I am NOW retiring from being Cameron Diaz’s spokesperson.’ (That last bit seems to be a joke as well – at least Selma’s getting better).

    Cameron Diaz hasn’t yet commented on the Blair’s blunder, but in reality, her retirement wouldn’t raise that many eyebrows. It seems that in celeb circles, early retirement is not something new, and especially not when it only lasts for a few years.

    We’ve compiled a list of the best, worst and most ridiculous part-time retirements…

    Lance Armstrong


    Where do we start with Lance Armstrong*? Until 2013, he was a hero – after surviving cancer, Armstrong went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005. After this final victory, he announced his retirement from the sport. Had Lance Armstrong stopped there, he would have cemented his place as one of the greatest athletes in recent history and for raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against cancer (remember those yellow Livestrong bracelets that were everywhere in the mid-2000s?) However, investigations into Armstrong’s alleged doping increased as he returned to the sport and, in 2013, two years after retiring for good, he finally confessed his deception in an Oprah interview.

    Moral of this story? Quit while you’re ahead. Oh, and don’t be a drugs cheat.

    *Strictly speaking, Lance is a cyclist, but he had a cameo in Dodgeball, so he counts, okay?

    Barbra Streisand


    Babs is an icon, having either contributed to, or released over 60 albums. However, that number would have definitely been lower, had she stuck to her 1999 proclamation that her Timeless tour would be her last. $70 million in ticket sales and audiences of 200,000 people later, Streisand had chosen the perfect way to bow out with a bang.

    Except that she didn’t, and returned to performing with her 2006 Streisand tour, which grossed $92 million. Well, the customer is always right…



    After the release of the now-triple platinum selling The Black Album in 2003, Jay-Z had decided that he’d had enough of the music industry. His post-retirement plans looked pretty solid – he became President and CEO of Def Jam records and part-ownership of a basketball team. However, within a year, he was collaborating with Linkin’ Park and three years later, he was back with a new album. What changed his mind?

    Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Jay Z said he simply couldn’t help it,  ‘Something, when you love it, is always tugging at you and itching.’

    He also said that ‘It was the worst retirement in history’… Jay-Z, meet Shia.

    Shia LaBeouf


    As a teen in Even Stevens, Shai LaBeouf stole the show with his comic timing and acting ability. However, as his career has progressed, he has become better known for drunken incidents and bizarre stunts. In 2014, LaBeouf vowed to retire from all public life after being caught up in a plagiarism scandal… and proceeded to apologise for his plagiarism with a plagiarised apology. How very meta.

    Of course, that retirement didn’t last long, with Shia winning roles in American Honey and a Sia music video in the last few years. Unfortunately, arrests for disorderly conduct and some truly reprehensible racist comments also followed. Like Lance, Shia should have perhaps quit when he was (just about) ahead.

    Audrey Hepburn


    In anyone’s book, Audrey Hepburn is one of the most inspirational women of all time. From supporting the Dutch resistance in World War II to beguiling us on screen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she was true star. However, at the height of her fame in 1967, Hepburn went into semi-retirement in order to devote further time to her family. Sporadic appearances in feature films (and presenting Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn, which we are now obsessively searching for on YouTube) mean that she technically did break her retirement, but for UNICEF campaigner Audrey, we’ll let it slide.

    Keira Knightley


    We know: in 2010, Keira Knightley nearly packed it all in. Bear in mind that this was at the height of her fame, post-Atonement, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Duchess and you understand how big of a deal this would have been. Knightley told Vogue: ‘I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing and I felt terribly guilty about that.’

    She went on to attribute her return to acting to Carey Mulligan: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to go back to acting at all. I think for a long time I thought I wouldn’t. I think I intended not to work again… Carey’s a very good friend of mine and I felt if I was to start making films again, she was someone who would watch my back.’

    God bless Carey Mulligan.

    Justin Bieber


    2013 was quite a year for Justin Bieber. From drugs found on his tour bus, to vandalism in Brazil and allegedly assaulting a limo driver (charges were later dropped), he was well and truly trying to shed that teeny bopper label.

    As an early Christmas present for some, and a Grinch-style move for others, Bieber announced on 24th December that he was retiring, keeping it short and sweet with ‘My beloved beliebers I’m officially retiring’.

    Cue the tears of millions of teenage fans, but never fear, Bieber was back one hour later to announce that it was all a hoax. He said. ‘The media talks a lot about me. They make a up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I’m never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle. Be kind loving to each other, forgive each other as god forgave us through Christ Merry Christmas. IM HERE FOREVER.’

    Truly a Christmas miracle.

    Brad Pitt


    Cast your mind back to 2011. Obama is President, the UK is still in the EU… it’s nice. Except for the fact that in an interview with Australian TV in 2011, Brad Pitt said that he planned to quit acting within three years. He told the Australian 60 Minutes, ‘I am really enjoying the producing side and development of stories and putting those pieces together.’

    Thankfully, Brad didn’t stick to his word and is currently working on the much-anticipated Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with the dream team of Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie. Good decision, Brad.

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