From Jay-Z to Steven Soderbergh: 12 Stars Who Unretired From Showbiz

8:30 AM 8/18/2017

by Sydney Odman

Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood and more: Hollywood entertainers just can't seem to stay away from the industry, even after claiming to be out of the business for good.

Clint Eastwood, Barbara Streisand and Daniel Day Lewis - Split - Getty - H 2017
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In the entertainment business, staying in retirement is apparently not as easy as it may sound. Actors, musicians, writers and directors often claim to be done for good only to return to their craft later on — some sooner than others. Whether it's because of health issues or simply wanting to take some time off, Hollywood stars often turn toward retirement as a way to step out of the spotlight. 

To wit: Robert Redford is the most recent star to announce his retirement, only to backtrack on his previous declaration. Daniel Day-Lewis announce his retirement from showbiz last year. However, he previously took a break from acting in 1997 to pursue a passion for woodworking and shoemaking. He returned five years later, however, only to announce his retirement once again in June 2017. And after surviving a life-threatening accident in 2002, acclaimed novelist Stephen King also declared retirement, but resumed his career a year later. 

Those are just some examples of talent who had second thoughts about quitting showbiz. Read on to discover more about which Hollywood retirees re-emerged after time spent away from the industry.  

  • Phil Collins

    In 2011, English singer-songwriter Phil Collins chose to retire in order to devote more time to his family. However, the musician eventually returned to his career after signing a deal with Warner Music Group to re-master all eight of his solo albums. Collins also released his autobiography, Not Dead Yet, in 2016 and is currently performing in Europe as part of his Not Dead Yet Tour.

  • Steven Soderbergh

    Director Steven Soderbergh retired from the film business in 2013, but not without making a few jabs at the industry. Soderbergh attributed his short-lived retirement to the mistreatment of directors, among many other issues in Hollywood. However, less than three years later, the Ocean's Eleven director announced the end of his retirement in order to direct the upcoming film Logan Lucky, starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver and more. 

  • Daniel Day-Lewis

    As one of the most revered performers of his time, Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't possibly be finished with acting, could he? The method actor announced his retirement June 20 in a statement released by his spokeswoman, but it's not the first time he's retired. Day-Lewis also famously quit the stage in 1989 when he walked out on a production of Hamlet mid-performance at the National Theatre in London, saying that he had seen his father's ghost. He immersed himself into woodworking and shoemaking. In 2002, however, the Academy Award winner returned to acting with a role in Martin Scorsese's The Gangs of New York.

  • Jay-Z

    At just 33 years old, Grammy award winning rap artist Jay-Z decided to retire after the release of The Black Album in 2003. Despite his "retirement," the rapper continued to collaborate with various artists during his time off, ultimately releasing another album in 2006, Kingdom Come.

  • Barbra Streisand

    Barbra Streisand marked the end of her career in a live farewell performance at Madison Square Garden in the year 2000, declaring it to be her last tour ever. The iconic entertainer made a comeback six years later to perform at a benefit concert for her foundation. Since then, Streisand has made a steady return to her career, even releasing new music. 

  • Ozzy Osbourne

    In 1992, lead vocalist of Black Sabbath and solo artist Ozzy Osbourne announced he was done touring in order to take time off and focus on his personal life. Although he said that his album, Live and Loud, would be his last, the musician claimed that "retirement sucked" and resumed performing in 1995. 

  • Clint Eastwood

    As a cultural icon in both his acting and directing pursuits, Clint Eastwood has continuously proven to be one of the best of his generation. In 2008, the Academy Award winner announced his retirement from acting, stating that he would still continue his work as a director. Since then, Eastwood has directed Jersey BoysAmerican Sniper and more. The director put an end to his acting hiatus after starring in Trouble With the Curve in 2012.

  • Stephen King

    While walking alone along a highway, best-selling author Stephen King was struck from behind by a van and nearly killed. After this near-death experience, King initially called it quits in 2002, claiming to be finished with writing books. A year later, however, he re-emerged on the writing scene with a pop culture column in Entertainment Weekly. Since his unretirement, King has written more than a dozen novels. Adaptations of two of his works, The Dark Tower and It, are hitting the big screen this year.

  • Frank Sinatra

    Frank Sinatra, one of the most influential voices of the 20th century, experienced a short-lived retirement of his own from 1970-73. While in retirement, Sinatra made an exception to perform again when former president Richard Nixon requested that the retiree perform at the Young Voters Rally in 1972. Sinatra made an official return to his career a year later with the release of the album Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back

  • Joaquin Phoenix

    In 2010, Golden Globe award winner Joaquin Phoenix starred in Casey Affleck's mockumentary I'm Still Here, a film that follows Phoenix's life as he retires from acting. Although it was revealed after the film's release that the documentary was an experimental process, Phoenix ultimately did retire after the film. A year later, the actor returned to his craft to star in Paul Thomas Anderson's drama The Master.

  • Garth Brooks

    In 2000, Country Music Hall of Fame member Garth Brooks left his career as an extremely successful country music star to focus more on his family and personal life. Scarecrow, his final album before retirement, was released in November 2001. Four years after the release of his last album, Brooks briefly emerged out of retirement to perform a few benefit concerts. Over the years, the musician continued to perform every now and then at various shows in Kansas City, Las Vegas, Washington D.C. and more. In 2014, Brooks finally confirmed his return to the music scene in promotion of his newest album Man Against Machine and has been on a world tour with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, since then.

  • Robert Redford

    Two years ago, Robert Redford announced that he would retire from acting after shooting his upcoming film The Old Man & the Gun, to focus on directing.

    He doubled down on those comments in August 2018, telling Entertainment Weekly: "Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [I’ll] move towards retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21. I thought, Well, that’s enough. And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?"

    But at the September 2018 premiere for The Old Man & the Gun, Redford seemed to backtrack — or at least regret publicly proclaiming said retirement.

    "I think it was a mistake to say that this was my last film because I think I just could've quietly slipped out of acting and into a new category," Redford said, adding that he thinks he inadvertently drew "too much attention" to The Old Man & the Gun being his last film, when he'd rather the focus be "on the rest of the cast and the story."

    During a Q&A after the screening, he reiterated that sentiment: "This is not about my retirement. That got too much attention. It's not about that. Because if I'm going to retire, I'm going to go quietly into a new direction and not talk about it. So I was concerned that was getting too much attention and taking away from what the real value of the story was, which is, this is [writer-director] David [Lowery]'s concept."

    Allison Crist contributed to this report.