Matt LeBlanc just announced that he would like to retire from show business at just 50 years old. Though a big name, his credits are minimum. Why? Probably because he spent the majority of his career working on a massively popular sitcom (my favorite sitcom), called F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
There is a pattern. Television stars who have spent 7-10 years on the same set tend to limit their screen time afterward. The demands of the ongoing series or franchise certainly removed them from their real lives. After wrapping, they are able to dictate their own seasonal schedules for the first time. While they may have every intention of returning to work, some of them never truly make it back. Not on the same level, anyway.
Take the rest of the cast from F.R.I.E.N.D.S (exempting Jen Aniston, who went on to conquer the movies), or the cast of Lost, Sex and the City, The Office, hit teen dramas like One Tree Hill, 90210, and even young Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stars. This concept also includes the casts of international movie sagas, like Harry Potter and Twilight.
When these successful sensations came to an end, what happened to the majority of the performers involved? Sarah Jessica Parker stayed relevant, but what about the other girls? Steve Carell is still making us laugh, but what about his co-workers? Emma Watson is still super busy, but where in the world is Rupert Grint?
Some never slowed down, and some haven’t been seen since.
Sure, any project brings hard work and a consumption of time. However, the difference for these people is the hiatus in between, which takes up fewer months out of the year than the actual shooting time. Series and sequels have strict deadlines, usually without any leeway. The other difference is the amount of promotional obligations that tag along with it. Phenomenons result in an abundant amount of annual press, appearances, and… tabloid presence. Admiration requires two forms of spotlight: on and off screen coverage.
An obvious reason is the benefits and revenue. Depending on the success of the project, it’s possible for an actor to live off the income from that project for the rest of their lives. There is no longer pressure to “be a working actor.” Without the panic, it’s easy to take a break without having set plans to return. Being “set for life,” is what they call it.
Not to mention, they have technically “made it.” They have already completed what they will be known for. No matter what they move onto, there are some actors who will always be seen as the character that changed people’s lives. Sure, 10 years on air is a short stint compared to the rest of our lives. Remember that when its impactful enough, its memory will last much longer.
With everything being said, it’s no wonder celebrities get burned out, jaded, and then settle for what they have or what they’ve already done. Honestly though, if everyone was capable of retiring early, most of us would. It’s just easier.