Special Report

Movie Stars Who Came Out of Retirement to Act Again

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Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci has played volatile characters throughout his career, with most of the roles being gangsters. He’s also demonstrated his comedy chops in the Lethal Weapon films, “Home Alone,” and “My Cousin Vinny.”

Pesci had not acted in a live-action movie in almost 10 years, but Martin Scorsese convinced him to come out of retirement to play a low-key mobster in the 2019 film “The Irishman.” The movie reunited him with Robert De Niro (they both starred in “Raging Bull”).

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Anthony Hopkins

Two-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Father”) is one of the greatest actors of our time, with a film career that dates from 1968. He’s not impressed with his profession though (in 2019, he called actors – including himself – “pretty stupid”). In 1998, Hopkins said he had enough of acting and retired.

A year later he returned, playing a serial killer in the thriller “Instinct.” Hopkins has been very busy since coming out of retirement, appearing as Pope Benedict XVI in 2019 in “The Two Popes,” and winning his second Academy Award in “The Father” in 2021, becoming the oldest Oscar winner in a competitive acting category at the age of 83.

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Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf overcame a difficult childhood to become a promising young actor, appearing on the TV show “Even Stevens” from 2000 to 2003. Then he starred in the Transformers movies and became a star. But the pressures of providing for his family and stardom took its toll, and LaBeouf developed an alcohol addiction that led to a public outburst during a Broadway show. He also was accused of plagiarizing a comic strip idea.

He announced his retirement from acting in 2013, but the following year, LaBeouf returned to motion pictures, appearing in the war film “Fury,” and he hasn’t stopped since.

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Cameron Diaz

Diaz, whose film credits include “Something About Mary,” “Vanilla Sky,” and “Charlie’s Angels,” married Good Charlotte singer Benji Madden in 2015. She officially confirmed her retirement in 2018. She and Madded had a daughter in 2020, and on the radio show “Quarantined with Bruce” last year, Diaz said that, as a mother, she couldn’t imagine being on a movie set for 16 hours a day anymore. But she left open the possibility of returning to films.

She did just that this year, starring in “Back to Action,” an as-yet-unreleased film for Netflix, alongside Jaime Foxx – with whom she’d appeared in 2014’s “Annie,” her last feature film appearance..

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Robert Redford

Robert Redford was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars in the 1970s and 1980s with hits like “All the President’s Men,” “The Sting,” and “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” before he turned to directing. He still appeared in movies as well, but in 2018 he decided that his appearance in “The Old Man and the Gun” would be his last.

Redford has stayed on the acting sidelines for the most part. But in 2019 he came back to the big screen with a small part in Avengers: Endgame.

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