Plenty of celebrities seem to prefer living room lamplight to Hollywood limelight. Johnny Depp has earned millions with his blindingly successful acting career, yet he’s notoriously antisocial and hides away at home (and away from the paparazzi) when given the choice. Makes you feel a bit better about your Saturday night Netflix binge, right? Read on to learn more about these misanthropic homebodies.
Dave Chappelle And The 10 Year Hiatus
Dave Chappelle’s career skyrocketed with Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, but he ultimately chose to step out of the spotlight, citing loss of creative control and general burnout. He abandoned a $50 million third season deal in 2006, and retreated to an Ohio farm with his children instead. He did make a comeback in 2015, much to the delight of his fans and critics.
Johnny Depp Prefers To Stay In Than Indulge In Celebrity
Johnny Depp has been named Hollywood’s most overpaid actor for two years in a row and the Pirates of the Caribbean films alone have grossed $3.7 billion worldwide. He doesn’t seem to care about his celebrity status, though. “I don’t leave the house anymore,” he told a German television station. “There’s a limit to what a person can endure.”
“Rock Recluse” David Bowie
Rolling Stone called David Bowie a “rock recluse” in 2011 and they weren’t wrong. He suffered a heart attack in 2004 and gave his last live performance in 2006. The estimated earnings of his estate reached $10.5 million in 2016 following his death. He’s not the only musician whose estate continues to earn millions…
Michael Jackson Through The Decades
The king of pop was never totally reclusive, but he began seeking more and more privacy in the late 1980s, giving less frequent interviews to the media as well. His career had long since paid off to the tune of millions of dollars, and he’s the highest-paid dead celebrity to date—his estate earned $825 million in 2016 alone.
Lauryn Hill Ended Up In Trouble
After her first album’s huge success, Lauryn pulled away from the music scene, explaining that she felt “way too compromised.” She chose to spend the following years raising her six children, five of whom are the grandchildren of Bob Marley. She did plead guilty to tax evasion in 2012 and served a three-month prison sentence the following year.
In The Spotlight, Then Out
English musician Kate Bush enjoyed a chart-topping career before pulling away from the music scene in the early 1990s. After losing several people close to her, including her mother, she shied away from fame. Today, she lives with her husband and son in a $2.8 million house surrounded by high walls.
The King Of Late Night Television
Johnny Carson hosted over 4,500 episodes of The Tonight Show and welcomed 23,000 guests, but he led a pretty private life while offstage. Once he’d secured his crown as the king of late night television, he granted very few interviews to the media. His successor lived a similarly private life, too…
Blackmail For David Letterman
David Letterman’s private nature led a CBS producer to believe he’d fall for a blackmail attempt. Robert Halderman demanded $2 million, threatening to reveal that Letterman had had sex with several of his female staffers. David worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to catch Halderman in a sting operation.
The Artist Behind Calvin And Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson’s work has appeared in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide. After retiring the strip in 1995, though, Watterson began turning down interviews and public appearances. He still interacted with the public discreetly, once secretly stashing autographed copies of his books at a local store until fans caught on and started selling them online for high prices.
Harper Lee, Disappearing Author
Harper Lee published the iconic novel To Kill A Mockingbird in 1960, then she promptly disappeared from the literary circuit for 55 years. Its semi-sequel, Go Set A Watchman, was published in 2015, but critics and literary insiders believed that Lee was coerced into its release. Those who knew her still doubt that she gave it an eager go-ahead; she’d always sworn that she wouldn’t release another novel.
J. D. Salinger’s Life Enigmatic
The Catcher in the Rye author actually served as a counterintelligence officer in World War II before publishing his first and only novel in 1951. At that point, he quickly disappeared from the public eye. Almost everything known about Salinger comes from either his daughter’s 2000 memoir or court transcripts.
Funky, Then Gone
The Family Stone frontman Sly Stone battled drug problems in the 1970s, vanished in the 1980s, and stayed hidden for two decades. He gave an interview to Vanity Fair in 2007, sharing stories of his 60s and 70s stardom and life afterward. He’s performed live several times since—Rolling Stone called the performances “bizarre, unpredictable, and erratic.”
After directing some of the most successful comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, John Hughes skipped out on Hollywood in 1994 following the death of a friend. He spent the rest of his life living with his family, refusing to give interviews or make public appearances until he died in 2009.
A Reclusive Rapper
Marshall Mathers has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in hip-hop history, but he stopped loving the fame when his closest friend was killed in 2006. He became one of rap’s most reclusive artists. “I had no idea I was going to be so famous,” he said in 2009. More secretive musicians are up next, too…
The Pair Behind Daft Punk
The French musicians under these helmets aren’t reclusive by definition, of course. They’re hailed as the most influential artists in electronic music, and each man (android?) has a net worth of $60 million. While Thomas and Guy-Manuel have always stayed secretive, they create a worldwide frenzy every time they do choose to perform.
Howard Hughes was a very successful aviator and film director in the 1930s. He’s credited with many flight innovations, but after a plane crash in 1956, he retreated and spent the rest of his life shrouded in privacy. He’s thought to have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as germaphobia, and at one point, he locked himself in a screening room for four months.
Syd Barrett, Rock’s Most Famous Recluse
The Pink Floyd founder’s music career only lasted for seven years, but Barrett’s creative vision left a permanent impression on rock music. His heavy use of LSD lent inspiration to his work and he eventually experienced what many called a psychotic break. He spent the following three decades as a hermit until he died in 2006.
The Man Behind Spidey
Steve Ditko, one of the co-creators of Marvel’s Spider-man, has always been a private person. After going through disagreements with Stan Lee, the other mind behind Spider-man, Ditko skipped out and left behind the character that turned into a billion dollar enterprise. He has given very few interviews throughout his lifetime.
The Mysteriously Eccentric Daniel Day-Lewis
He lives on a remote 50-acre estate in quiet, rural Ireland, where he says he can go “quietly about my business.” He takes method acting to an extreme and spends up to two years living the lives of characters he portrays on film, even though he’s admitted that his kids don’t even know he’s a famous actor. That’s just normal for Daniel Day-Lewis, one of Hollywood’s most eccentric actors.
Brian Wilson’s Bedroom Years
Following his father’s death in 1973, Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson skipped out on fame and stayed home. He binged on food, booze, cigarettes, and cocaine until he was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia in 1976. He struggled with addiction for years afterward, surviving an overdose and a short stint of vagrancy.
Axl Rose And Company
Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose began frequently ranting onstage during their “Use Your Illusion” tour. At a St. Louis show in 1991, he abruptly walked offstage; the outraged fans rioted and caused $200,000 in damage. The pattern repeated itself, and after the band’s July 1993 show in Argentina, they went dormant.
Rob Kardashian, Just For A Bit
The entire Kardashian and Jenner clan wears their combined net worth of $300 million through public displays of their lives. Rob was arrested in 2013 after angrily chasing down a photographer and stealing his camera, leading to theft and battery charges. He then dodged the spotlight between 2014 and 2016 while he dealt with drug and alcohol addiction.
A Stanley Kubrick Impersonator
Kubrick has directed legendary movies like A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. He rarely gave interviews and was rarely photographed, so many fans didn’t know what he looked like. This made it easier for a United Kingdom man named Alan Conway to impersonate Kubrick for some time, conning his way into parties and nightclubs.
Simpsons Writer John Swartzwelder
John Swartzwelder joined The Simpsons as a writer in 1989 and worked on the show for 14 years. He’s always kept his life intensely private though, and refuses to give interviews or even appear on any Simpsons DVD commentary. He has made cameos on the show, but he wasn’t paid as much as the next star…
The Voice Of Marge Simpson