Why Cameron Diaz Left Hollywood: Inside Her Off-the-Radar Life

Cameron Diaz
Javiles/Bruce / BACKGRID

A decade ago, Cameron Diaz was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood.

In the 12 months leading up to June 2008, she had earned roughly $50 million, according to Forbes, thanks to being a star of the four-part Shrek franchise, plus live-action turns in the comedy What Happens in Vegas and the tear-jerker My Sister’s Keeper, which came out the following year.

“Cameron Diaz, that’s my girl. Now she’s a bloody top actress, isn’t she?” Eric Bana‘s completely obnoxious husband said in front of his actress wife played by Leslie Mann in Judd Apatow‘s 2010 comedy Funny People. “…Ahhh, Something About Mary. I love that movie! She’s so funny!”

Point being, Diaz was always the epitome of the men-want-her-and-women-want-to-be-her movie star: gorgeous but relatable; good in gross-out comedies, action movies and trippy stuff like Vanilla Sky; and pretty much the person you most wanted to hang out with at the party.

Yet even with so many people paying attention all the time, it was still easy to miss that, like a cruise ship, the four-time Golden Globe nominee had slowly… slowly… started to change course.

Until seemingly all of a sudden one day, it turned out she had done a full 180 and sailed off in an entirely different direction.

It just so happens that Selma Blair, Diaz’s co-star in 2002’s The Sweetest Thing, joked in a new interview that Diaz had recently told her over lunch that she had retired from acting.

“I mean, she doesn’t need to make any more films. She has a pretty great life, I don’t know what it would take to bring her back. She’s happy,” Blair (who next up will be on the Paramount Network’s Heathers reboot) was quoted as saying. The actress took to Twitter today to clarify that she was kidding, but the R-word made a lot of headlines.

However, while Blair tweeted that Diaz “is NOT retiring from ANYTHING,” no one needed to point out that Diaz has stepped away from the acting grind.

As Blair insinuated by saying Diaz’s life was “pretty great” already, it’s not as if she needs the money. But after being one of Hollywood’s top stars, where did Cameron go and why?

For starters, maybe 20 years of working more or less nonstop was enough. Theoretically most people would love to retire—or at least take a nice, long break, or at least work less—after putting in a solid 20.

Cameron Diaz, Annie, Miss Hannigan
Olivia Bridge Entertainment

Diaz, whose last film was 2014’s Annie (20 years after her big-screen debut in The Mask), actually dropped clues in some of her later interviews as she promoted her books and new approaches to wellness and living the good life, that she may have just been over the game. A game which, in the past four years, hasn’t really changed—though, like Diaz’s trajectory, it’s finally, slooooowly starting to turn.

“Our viewpoint, and I think society’s view and take on aging, is really what perpetuated this, what propelled me to write the book, because I am in that position where people ask me…it’s amazing what people ask me,” Diaz said, laughing, in an interview with the LA Review of Books in 2016, talking about The Longevity Book. “It was very interesting as I was turning 40 to get the questions like…’Aren’t you scared? Isn’t this, like, the worst thing ever that you’re turning 40?’ And I realized, because I wasn’t fearful of it, I wasn’t feeling shame about it—but all of a sudden I felt like, when you’re told something over and over and over again, you start to consider it in a different way.

“And I started thinking, ‘Wow, should I be scared of this?’ And then I went, ‘No, I’m not, because I feel strong.'”

Hence her tomes such as 2013’s The Body Book about, yes, how to feel and look your best self, but also her 2016 follow-up detailing what happens when you age and about how to ditch the shame and fear associated with growing older because, gasp, you might start to look older as well.

Cameron Diaz, Tory Burch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Richie, Miranda Kerr
Marc Patrick/BFA.com

Diaz’s perspective would be a welcome addition to everything going on now in Hollywood, with talk of the discrepancy in how men and women are treated dominating the conversation, but she was actually addressing many of these issues—such as Hollywood’s problem figuring out what to do with women over 40—years ago. (And if her side gig as a wellness aficionado sounds familiar…yes, she and Gwyneth Paltrow are friends.)

She noted in 2016 that while plenty of older women in Hollywood are still getting great parts and winning awards, and there would always be work for the youngsters, women in their 40s ended up being the odd ones out.

“You can’t play 25 anymore,” she said. “You can’t play 70. And to start considering yourself in a position where you have to go, ‘I’ll play the mom!’ or ‘the woman in transition…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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