It was hard enough when Leonardo DiCaprio announced his plans to take a break from acting back in January. But with Ryan Gosling’s recent news that he, too, will be taking time off from his craft, it’s been difficult for me to find a reason to get out of bed. I’m not the only one; a hotline has been set up for grieving fans seeking solace (no joke).
In Ryan’s words, “I think it’s good for me to take a break and reassess why I’m doing it and how I’m doing it … I need a break from myself as much as I imagine the audience does.”
Well no, I really don’t need a break, Ryan. In fact, it may be the death of me. But there is a silver lining; numerous actors before him have entered mini-retirements only to return several years later better than ever. So here’s hoping this break will be short, and simply the catalyst for Ryan accepting his first Academy Award (for what I can only hope will be his standout performance as a man who has lost his shirt).
1. Joaquin Phoenix
In an interview that would go down in history as one of the most uncomfortable of all time, a seemingly incoherent Joaquin Phoenix announced his plans to retire on Late Night With David Letterman in 2009. This came as a surprise, as Phoenix had recently starred in a slew of successful films. Even more surprising was that he was leaving acting in order to pursue his dream of becoming — wait for it — a hip-hop artist. For a while, it seemed like Phoenix had fallen off the deep end, and the documentary (which he and director Casey Affleck later claimed was a hoax) followed the star’s erratic quest to become a rap legend; needless to say, it didn’t go so well. Just as sure as he left, however, Phoenix is now back and better than ever. This year, Phoenix received an Oscar nomination for his first post-retirement role as a WWII veteran in The Master.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis was also a well-established actor when he briefly retired. In 1997, Day-Lewis moved to Florence to explore his interest in woodworking and shoe-making, but little else is known about his reprieve from acting.
Day-Lewis himself refuses to discuss it. When probed, he responded, “It was a period of my life that I had a right to without any intervention of that kind.”
Well, it seems his apprenticeship as a cobbler may have been just what the doctor ordered; Day-Lewis returned to the big screen in Gangs of New York (2002), for which he won numerous awards, and was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Since then, Day-Lewis has won two Academy Awards, most recently for his performance in Lincoln.
3. Betty White
Betty White may not have Oscar nominations to prove that she's made her comeback, but she has won over the hearts of multiple generations — whereas Joaquin Phoenix still gives a plenty of people the heebie-jeebies. One of our favorite actresses to return to the big and small screens, Betty White never really left — but she seemed all but gone after her seven-season stint on Golden Girls. For over a decade after the show’s ending, White only appeared in small roles here and there.
It wasn’t until 2009’s The Proposal that she made her big splash. Viewers fell in love with the sassy grandma, and soon Betty White was once again a household name, with a much broader and younger fan base than before, to boot. In fact, the following year, a Facebook group, entitled “Betty White to Host SNL (Please),” gained so much momentum that NBC announced that White would host the show, as the oldest host to grace the stage. The gig garnered some of SNL’s highest ratings ever, as well as an Emmy for White. White currently stars in TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, which was just renewed for a third season, and hosts Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, also recently renewed.
4. Anthony Hopkins
Hopkins proves that simply pretending you’re taking a break from acting can do wonders for your career (so I really hope Ryan’s just bluffing). During the filming of Titus (1999), Hopkins told the Daily Mail that acting was bad for his mental health and had wasted his life; in his words “To hell with this stupid show business, this ridiculous showbiz, this futile waste of life.” Seems like the hard feelings didn’t last long. His next film, Mission: Impossible II, was the most successful box office hit of 2000 (just a year after Titus was released). Since then, he has starred in over 20 films, despite once again claiming to be leaving acting back in 2006. So much for that!