Celebrities have always had a very tricky relationship with fame. While some deride the celebrity industrial complex and the toll it takes on their privacy, most celebrities rely on the machine to help build and promote their own personal brands.
Some celebrities, however, have deliberately shunned the spotlight. Some prefer to focus on their respective crafts, while leaving the publicity courting to the Kimyes of the world. The way in which these celebrities have rejected Hollywood can vary, from the understated to the absurd. Some feel the need to announce their departure from public life in a grand statement, like Alec Baldwin did in this week's issue of New York magazine. Others, like the late, great Marlon Brando, reject fame by adopting an offbeat lifestyle and refusing to conform to its parameters.
So, in honor of Baldwin's recent exit from public life, we've compiled a short list of famous people who rejected celebrity in the oddest of ways. Hint: One of them likes to wear a paper bag over his head.
Photo: Picture Perfect/REX USA.
“What’s going on with Shia LaBeouf?” has become the most asked question of 2014, thanks to a streak of strange antics that all began when the former child star was caught plagiarizing his short film. LaBeouf eventually renounced public life on Twitter and promised to keep a low profile. And, as anyone with an Internet connection will be able to attest, the actor has done anything but.
Signature moment: LaBeouf showed up to the red-carpet premiere of his film Nymphomaniac wearing a tuxedo and a paper bag over his head with the words “I’m not famous anymore” scrawled across it.
Photo: Picture Perfect/REX USA.
After years of butting heads with the paparazzi and the media, Alec Baldwin waved the white flag after accusations that the actor is a homophobe became too much for him to bear.
Signature moment: Baldwin penned a 5,000 word essay in the pages of New York Magazine, and bid farewell to public life. He wrote, “If I offended anyone along the way, I do apologize. But the solution for me now is: I've lived this for 30 years, I'm done with it."
Photo: Moviestore Collection/Re/REX USA.
Although the legendary actor never publicly decried fame like his contemporary counterparts, his fluctuation weight, his choice of roles that were often considered beneath him, and his refusal to do any press revealed a true contempt for Hollywood and the studio system.
Signature moment: When he won Best Actor for his performance in The Godfather, Brando sent a young Apache activist to the ceremony on his behalf, to decline the award.
Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
The Irish singer has been enigmatic for most of her 20-year career, but decided to take the final plunge into obscurity in 2013, when she announced that she was retiring from the music industry and asked to be left alone. “I am a very shy person believe it or not,” she wrote at the time. “So I ask with love, that I be left in peace and privacy by people who love my records, too.”
Signature moment: After years away from the spotlight, O’Connor reemerged when she attacked Miley Cyrus in an open letter, and criticized the singer’s salacious new persona.
Photo: Charles Sykes/REX USA.
When Joaquin Phoenix announced that he was quitting acting to a pursue a rap career, no one knew what to make of it. But, Phoenix didn’t care. He followed that up with new homeless-chic look and a series of bizarre appearances that made us all think one of our most talented actors had gone off the deep-end. As it turns out, it was all just a piece of performance art, intended for the pseudo-documentary I’m Still Here.
Signature moment: A dazed and disheveled Phoenix sat down with David Letterman and gave one of the most bizarre interviews in the history of late-night television.