6. Evangeline Lilly
Evangeline Lilly stunned the world in 2010 when she announced that after Lost finished, she planned to retire from the business. “Acting is something I appreciate, and I think it’s been an amazing experience, but I’m not passionate about acting the way you probably should be to call yourself an actor. I want to have some quiet space,” she told E! Online. She may have not quite retired yet—she just made Real Steel, and she’ll be appearing in Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated film adaptation of The Hobbit as a newly-created elf character named Tauriel—but she’s a new mom as well, so it’s likely she’ll be focusing on her family for a while now.
7. Kal Penn
Kal Penn made perhaps the most drastic career change out of any retired actor when he left the business in order to go work for the Obama administration. His character on House was unceremoniously killed off, ensuring that he would never be obligated to appear on the show again. However, as of this year, he’s back in show biz: He reprised the role that made him famous in the third Harold and Kumar film, which saw its release earlier this month, and he’s been appearing as Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) therapist/boyfriend on this season of How I Met Your Mother. So much for politics.
8. David Burtka
Neil Patrick Harris’ partner David Burtka was once an actor as well (I saw him in the 2003 Broadway production of Gypsy, and believe you me, he was FANTASTIC), but as of 2009, he quit acting to become… a chef! He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in 2009 and has since been running a Los Angeles catering company called Gourmet M.D. Good for him!
9. Diane Lane
Diane Lane called it quits in 2008 after she finished shooting Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere. “This film is the last film, and by that I could mean it in any way,” she told Moviefone. But like so many others, she changed her mind not long after and starred in Secretariat, the 2010 Disney film about the 1973 Triple Crown-winning racehorse and his owner, Penny Chenery. She’s also going to be taking on the role of Superman’s Earth mom, Martha Kent, in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel alongside Henry Caville. Not so retired after all, eh?
10. Sean Connery
Ah, Sean Connery! James Bond! Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez! Zardoz! The famous Scot officially retired from his long and storied career in 2006 at the ripe old age of 76—and he’s actually stayed retired. In fact, this past April, his spokesman confirmed yet again that he was good and finished with acting. He wouldn’t even come out of retirement for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—because, as he put it, “Retirement is just too damned fun.” Enjoy it, Sir Sean—you’ve earned it!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.