I was planning to write an article on showbiz retirement but thought maybe it was straying too far from the blog’s charter, but when I heard about famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki deciding to come out of retirement, I figured it was topical enough to rant.
Oh, yes, rant, because that’s a big part of what this blog is about.
Retirement announcements are one of my pet peeves, and really it applies to anyone in the public eye, not just in showbiz. Rarely if ever does someone retire fully and not dip their toe back in the water. Usually, the result is a diminishing of their legacy.
One guy that really annoyed me is Billy Bob Thornton, not that he has much of a legacy to protect. He effectively announced his retirement from movies in favor of music, and then during the promotion of his music, had a meltdown in the studio when the interviews brought up his film career.
Now, Billy Bob Thornton seems like a collossal A-hole and dangerous nutcase as it is, but if your intention is to build a new personal brand around your music, this is NOT the way to do it. According to IMDB he’s got five projects for 2016 and had four roles in 2015, and five roles in 2014. Not so retired. Of course, the reason probably has more to do with his music career crashing and burning than any renewed passion he may have for acting, especially when you consider some of these roles, like doing Bad Santa 2.
On a more sympathetic note on the “is he or isn’t he” side you have John Williams. My google-fu is failing to pick up any “gotcha” announcements from Williams regarding his retirement from film-scoring, but it sure seemed like, circa War Horse, that he had all but hung up his spurs, but was being dragged back out only to provide music for Spielberg or Star Wars. This is the most recent article on his status.
Leonard Nimoy announced his retirement and then still kept acting, like his stint in the TV show Fringe. Then he had to announce his retirement AGAIN in 2011, only to appear one more time as Spock in Into Darkness.
Clint Eastwood tried to engineer his own exit from acting with Gran Torino, which would have been a fitting Swan Song, then four years later starred in the forgettable Trouble With The Curve. Why he chose to do that is a mystery to me, considering that he’s keeping himself very busy with directing.
Actors who have so far stuck to their guns include Sean Connery and Gene Hackman. These are actors who could easily get a role if they wanted, unlike many actors who aren’t working because they aren’t considered viable anymore.
The human condition is such that people don’t really want to just sit around and do nothing, but if you work, even sporadically, then you’re simply not retired. Maybe it means you only work when you feel like it, but you’re still working now and then, so not retired. Call it sematics if you like, but I believe if you’ve built a following and you’ve decided to walk off the stage to the point that you make a public announcement to the effect, then you should stick by that decision. If you want to leave the door open to return, then don’t make that announcement.