This artice orginally featured on Running In Heels - http://runninginheels.co.uk/articles/life-after-cinema/
This is the unedited final draft I submitted. Spot the difference! :P
Imagine if you will the following scenario; your job enables you to travel all over the world, your pay packet is in multiple digits, and your face is recognised globally for your work. The perfect situation it would seem… Or is it?
Earlier this year Viggo Morteson gave an interview declaring that he was finished with the movie making business setting the internet abuzz with speculation about whether or not he had quit acting for good. In the past, actors like Greta Garbo and Gene Wilder have retired from acting after long and successful careers. However an actor at the top of his game like Viggo declaring his intention to stop producing movies is hard to believe because if they quit, the profession loses an actor in their prime. Plus in these recessionary times it’s hard for us regular citizens to understand the motives behind giving up what seems to be the perfect job. We take a look at actors who have declared their intention to throw in the towel and what happened next…
I just don’t believe it…
Joaquin Phoenix has to be my favourite quitting story. He announced last year that he was quitting acting to become, wait for it, a rapper. Yes Joaquin Phoenix wants to be a rapper. This is the man who was nominated for an Oscar for Walk the Line and has appeared in such great movies as Two Lovers, Gladiator, Signs, and my personal favourite – Parenthood. However despite the fact that he hasn’t worked as an actor since his announcement, it’s still difficult to believe. The most popular theory is that he is doing it as an (extraordinarily elaborate) prank for his as yet unnamed 2010 documentary directed by Casey (brother of Ben) Affleck which is supposedly about his transition from actor to rapper. IMBD lists the documentary, scheduled for release in 2010, as being in post production so only then will we see whether or not it’s all an elaborate hoax. Although I must admit that should he release an album I’d probably buy it just to see what it’s like. However if his debut performance is anything to go buy I’m not expecting much.
Viggo Morteson, in the now much quoted interview he gave whilst publicising Eastern Promises, painted a picture of the job that we don’t generally imagine when we think about the fabulous lifestyles of the rich and famous; ‘In the past week I've been from Los Angeles to Japan to Korea to Poland to the UK. It's ridiculous and it's not a healthy way to be. But, as it happens, I'm taking measures to change that. No more movies.’
He is best known for his role in Lord of the Rings as Aragorn but he has been working as an actor pretty much consistently since the mid eighties. However, acting is not his only talent and he also writes poems, paints, photographs and is a jazz singer. He also owns a publishing company and holds a degree in Government and Spanish. Phew! As a man with so many interests it is not entirely shocking that he would consider a break from movie making and the subsequent publicity trail given that he could follow so many other routes. Throw in the fact that he’s 51 (I know, I couldn’t believe it either) and a career change is no longer so surprising.
However it would seem that, as frequently happens with the internet, his comments were blown completely out of proportion as evidenced by the 20,400 results for the search term ‘Viggo Morteson quitting acting’ in Google. Viggo himself silenced the speculation during a press conference for the movie The Road saying "I was just honest with someone a little while back who asked me if I had a movie lined up. I said 'no' and they wrote 'Oh, he's quitting.' I never said it," Talk about a storm in a tea cup but at least he knows he’ll be missed if he ever leaves the acting profession for good!
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later…
Of course actors taking a break are not uncommon. Daniel Day Lewis is arguably one of the most selective and talented actors of his generation. However he disappeared from the acting world following The Boxer (1997) and became an apprentice shoemaker (perhaps Joaquin’s rap career is not so strange after all!). He didn’t appear in another movie until his Oscar winning role in Gangs of New York in 2002. Since 2002 he has only appeared in two released movies, both of which have garnered him awards and award nominations. He has a mere two more movies in the works. Truly he exemplifies the phrase ‘quality over quantity.’
Sean Connery, on the other hand, has yet to emerge from his self imposed retirement. Following the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2006) he decided to retire from acting. Since he has been true to his word and the only acting role he has taken has been as the voice of the main character in an animated short about a vet working in a Scottish village. This role was surely taken for his love of Scotland rather than a desire to return to acting. In 2009 he co-wrote a book called ‘Being a Scot’ which deals with the subject of Scotland as well as his life.
As evidenced by Viggo Morteson any suggestion that you are planning to stop acting will bring you a lot of attention, unwanted or otherwise. As a publicity or work hungry actor this could be exactly what you need. Although I may be slightly cynical, I can’t help but notice that some stars seem to discuss quitting acting at the most appropriate times.
Let’s take the example of Mischa Barton. This week she was quoted as saying that she was planning to quit TV to concentrate on more serious roles following the cancellation of her most recent TV series ‘The Beautiful Life.’ While this may well be her intention it does seem to be a way of her asking for more roles in the most public way possible. Let’s face it, ‘I’m quitting television’ is a lot more dramatic then ‘Can I have a movie role please? My TV show just got cancelled’
So Mischa, learn from the experts above, take a break and go do something different for a while. Be a rapper, train to be a shoe maker, write a book or alternately go completely crazy and design a leggings line and head up a fashion house. Well if Lindsay Lohan can do it….