Jennette McCurdy Isn't Alone: Find Out Why the iCarly Actress and More Stars Quit Hollywood

Jennette McCurdy recently explained why she is done with acting and won't return for the iCarly revival. Here's why she and other performers have said goodbye to Hollywood.

By Ryan Gajewski Mar 03, 2021 2:04 AMTags
Watch: Jennette McCurdy Quits Acting, Embarrassed By Past Roles

Fans have known for a while that Jennette McCurdy is not returning to the much-anticipated iCarly revival, and now they have the full story behind her decision. 

Best known for originating Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon series and later reprising the role on Sam & Cat with Ariana Grande, Jennette shared during the latest episode of her Empty Inside podcast that not only has she stopped acting, but her Hollywood success doesn't fill her with pride. 

"I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it," she told guest Anna Faris. Jennette explained that her mom had encouraged her to start acting at a young age, and that her gigs ended up supporting her family financially, but she decided to change career paths after her mom died in 2013 following a battle with cancer. 

"Once I started to get the nerves under control was when I started to actually get some traction, but I ultimately quit after my mom passed away because with her death kind of died a lot of her ideas for my life, and that was its own journey, and a difficult one, for sure," Jennette said. 

Child Stars Then and Now

The 28-year-old star, who is also known for Netflix's dystopian sci-fi series Beyond, said she may have felt more invested in acting had she been cast in different projects but that she's now "ashamed of the parts I've done." She added she's not necessarily opposed to reevaluating things down the road if she has an opportunity to work with a highly respected director.

Jennette clearly isn't the only high-profile performer to have found happiness away from Hollywood. Keep scrolling to learn why other notable names decided to see what life had to offer away from the camera.

Jennette McCurdy

On a February 2021 episode of her podcast Empty Inside, the iCarly alum told guest Anna Faris that she decided to stop acting a few years ago and is now focused on opportunities in writing and directing, in addition to hosting the podcast. 

"My experience with acting is, I'm so ashamed of the parts I've done in the past," Jennette revealed. "I resent my career in a lot of ways. I feel so unfulfilled by the roles that I played and felt like it was the most cheesy, embarrassing. I did the shows that I was on from like 13 to 21, and by 15, I was already embarrassed. My friends at 15, they're not like, 'Oh, cool, you're on this Nickelodeon show.' It was embarrassing."

Meghan Markle

This felt like something of a no-brainer. If we had a shot to marry Prince Harry, dedicate our life to the philanthropic causes that matter most to us and gain access to the Queen's impressive collection of tiaras, bidding ta-ta to Tinseltown would feel like an okay sacrifice. Following in the path Grace Kelly took from Hollywood to the Palace of Monaco, Markle left behind her home in Toronto—and her breakout role on Suits—for a life in The Firm. Though, now that she and Harry have shed their senior roles, she's edging back into the business thanks to their new multi-year production deal with Netflix

Cameron Diaz

Having made upwards of 40 movies since her debut in 1994's The Mask, the actress was long overdue for a break when filming wrapped on 2014's Annie. "I just decided that I wanted different things out of my life," she recently explained to pal Gwyneth Paltrow of her ultimate act of self-care. "I had gone so hard for so long, working, making films and it's such a grind. When you're making a movie—it's a perfect excuse—they own you. You're there for 12 hours a day for months on end and you have no time for anything else."

And there was plenty more she'd like to explore, from writing (she followed up her 2013 New York Times best-seller The Body Book with 2016's The Longevity Book) to starting a family with husband Benji Madden. Six years on, she confessed to InStyle in 2019, "I don't miss performing. Right now I'm looking at the landscape of wellness and all that. But whatever I do, it has to be something I'm passionate about—sometime that just feels effortless."

Terrence Howard

There will be no encore for the actor now that he's finished his five-year run on Empire. When Extra asked the Oscar nominee about his future ahead of the musical drama series' sixth and final season, he responded, "Oh, I'm done with acting. I'm done pretending." His plan, he continued, was somewhat undefined: "I'm just focusing on bringing truth to the world."

Jack Gleeson

Once his time as King Joffrey came to a sudden, purple-faced end in 2014, the then-21-year-old told EW he was getting out of the game. "I've been acting since age 8," the Game of Thrones star explained of his decision. "I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to."

No longer a child star, a bit of the magic had worn off. "Now there's the prospect of doing it for a living, whereas up until now it was always something I did for recreation with my friends, or in the summer for some fun," he continued. "I enjoyed it. When you make a living from something, it changes your relationship with it. It's not like I hate it, it's just not what I want to do." But after a six-year break, he may just be ready to resume his reign, joining the cast of BBC's upcoming series Out of Her Mind

Phoebe Cates

When Fast Times at Ridgemont High's dream girl (Jennifer Aniston took on her part in September's virtual table read) wed fellow actor Kevin Kline in 1989, they "agreed to alternate so that we're never working at the same time," he told Playboy of their plan to care for son Owen and daughter Greta (a singer who know goes by the stage name Frankie Cosmos). However, he continued, "whenever it's been her slot to work, Phoebe has chosen to stay with the children." Though she made a cameo in pal Jennifer Jason Leigh's 2001 indie The Anniversary Party, Cates devotes most of her time to operating her New York City boutique Blue Tree

Rick Moranis

At the height of his Ghostbusters and Honey, I... fame, the '80s star stepped away from filmmaking not long after his wife passed away from breast cancer in 1991 to focus on raising his kids Rachel and Mitchell. Though he hasn't had a live-action role since 1997, even passing on a cameo in Paul Feig's 2016 Ghostbusters remake, he's remained a treasured cultural icon, as evidenced by the outrage over reports that he'd been assaulted while walking in New York City Oct. 1. Thankfully there's good news for fans: he'll make his triumphant return alongside Josh Gad in the forthcoming Disney reboot Shrunk.

Leelee Sobieski

Once she wed fashion designer Adam Kimmel in 2010, the Never Been Kissed standout hinted that she was maybe kinda done with movies. "Ninety percent of acting roles involve so much sexual stuff with other people, and I don't want to do that," she explained to Vogue. "It's such a strange fire to play with, and our relationship is surely strong enough to handle it, but if you're going to walk through fire, there has to be something incredible on the other side."

Her decision was solidified after son Martin joined older sister Louisanna in 2014. "I don't do movie stuff anymore. I am totally an outsider! I … am just a mom and an outsider," she noted to Us Weekly at a 2016 event, explaining that she helps Kimmel with his business and paints on the side. "I am just focused on my kids. I think that's mainly why I stopped." 

Sean Connery

Unclear if it's quitting or simply retiring when you choose to stop acting at 75, but the legendary Scot has had no regrets about signing off in 2006. Though he admitted he was enticed by the chance to reprise his role as Indy's father in 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ("If anything could have pulled me out of retirement, it would have been an Indiana Jones film," he said in a statement), in the end, he continued, "retirement is just too damned much fun."

Portia de Rossi

She'd done Ally McBeal. And Nip/Tuck. Then Arrested Development and finally Scandal when the Aussie realized that maybe she was ready to turn the dial. "I was approaching 45 and I just kind of…was wondering is there something that I could tackle now that I've never done before that would be really challenging and different," she explained on wife Ellen DeGeneres' eponymous talk show in 2018. "I kind of knew what acting would look like for me for the next 10, 20 years, so I decided to quit and start a business."

Her consumer-art company, General Public, already a work in progress, she had just one piece to finish. "I called Mitch Hurwitz, who's the creator of Arrested Development and I said, 'If there is a season 5, I won't be doing it because I quit acting. And he seemed really understanding and he totally got it. We had a great conversation, and then he wrote me into five episodes."

Daniel Day-Lewis

To be fair, once you've won three Academy Awards, what's left to accomplish? Shortly after receiving his sixth Oscar nod for his final film, 2017's Phantom Thread, the thespian had his rep issue a statement informing fans that he "will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject."