It is very unusual for an actor to appear in just one film before calling it a day and quitting the profession. After all, there are so many movies and television shows made every year that there seems like enough roles to go around for everyone who wants one. Yet, it turns out that there are actually a few actors who only appeared in one movie before they gave up trying to make it in Hollywood.
There are a lot of reasons why this could be the case. They might not have enjoyed their experience in making a film or could have just wanted to return to their usual job rather stay in show business. Of course, a few actors just cannot get further work for one reason or another. What we do know is that these actors only made one movie before having to give up.
21 Carrie Henn
Aliens is often said to be one of the best known and most influential sci-fi films of all time. In it, Carrie Henn played the part of Newt, an orphan who was the only survivor when the xenomorphs wiped out everyone else on her ship. At just nine years old, Henn put in a memorable performance. After the film was released, her family moved back to the US and she eventually became a teacher without taking on any further major roles.
20 James Taylor
Singer-songwriter James Taylor is best known by most people for his musical ability. Yet, he has also appeared in one movie. Starring alongside Dennis Wilson, Taylor had one of the major parts in Two-Lane Blacktop. It was his only film role and he chose to focus on his music rather than chase further opportunities in Hollywood.
19 Jake Lloyd
Technically, Jake Lloyd has appeared in more than one film. He had a relatively minor role in Jingle All the Way as well as other shorts and television films. However, he is best known for portraying Anakin Skywalker in the movie Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. He quit acting shortly after the movie was released after being bullied and has had a number of personal issues in recent years.
18 Peter Ostrum
Peter Ostrum became well known despite only making one film appearance in his career. That’s because he played Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After completing filming, he returned to the US and didn't try any further acting until he was in college, where he auditioned for several plays. When he didn’t land any roles, he decided that he should concentrate on being a veterinarian.
17 Danny Lloyd
Most people would probably not recognize Danny Lloyd today. Yet, as a child, he was world-famous for portraying Danny Torrance in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. After this movie, he made a number of appearances in other TV shows and shorts but hasn’t had a major role in a film since. Instead, he teaches at a college in Kentucky.
16 Katie Jarvis
Katie Jarvis is a British actor who rose to prominence in 2009 thanks to a role in the Andrea Arnold directed film Fish Tank. She was discovered while arguing with her then boyfriend at a train station and cast in the main role despite having no previous acting experience. She has followed that with some work in shorts and television but has had no major film roles since.
15 Sarah Pickering
Little Dorrit was a mammoth 1987 film that was split into two parts because of its huge six-hour length. An actress named Sarah Pickering got the lead role, appearing alongside the likes of Derek Jacobi and Alec Guinness, despite having no previous acting experience. After this movie, she appeared in no further films or television shows, seemingly disappearing.
14 Jeff Cohen
Most people will know Jeff Cohen as Chunk from the cult 1985 movie The Goonies. The child became a worldwide name for his role and went on to star in a number of television shows as well as made-for-TV films. However, he never made another appearance in a major movie and quit acting to focus on a career in entertainment law.
13 Billy Redden
Anyone who has seen the 1972 film Deliverance will remember the banjo-playing youngster who the main characters meet. This role was played by Billy Redden, a 15-year-old boy who was scouted by production staff looking for the right kind of look for the characters. After the film, he only had brief cameos in other projects and couldn’t find further acting work.
12 Stephen Lea Sheppard
Stephen Lea Sheppard is best known for two roles. He portrayed Dudley Heinsbergen in The Royal Tenenbaums and Harris Trinsky in Freaks and Geeks. Yet, these are the only two on-screen roles that he has ever had. After both appearances, he failed to get any more work and quit acting.
11 Adriana Caselotti
Many people will not be aware of the name Adriana Caselotti. This is despite the fact she portrayed Snow White in Disney’s first major film and her voice was instantly recognizable around the world. Even though her performance was critically acclaimed she never worked on another movie, prompting rumors that Disney had even blacklisted her from appearing in any further films.
10 Emmanuel Schotte
Emmanuel Schotte played the title role in the 1999 French film L'humanité. It was director Bruno Dumont’s second movie and he chose unknown, non-professional actors for most of the important roles. As a police officer, Emmanuel Schotte’s character, Pharaon de Winter, investigates the murder of a child. The former soldier decided not to pursue a career in acting despite winning the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance.
9 Maria Callas
Maria Callas is one of the most influential and famous opera singers of all time. She was well known for performing in operas and on stage. However, she only had one film role after being cast as the title role in Medea, which was notable because it did not involve any singing at all. According to reports, Callas did not enjoy the workload required for such a project and declined to appear in any future movies.
8 Eleonora Duse
Eleonora Duse is often regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time, known for being able to take on practically any role. However, she worked almost exclusive on stage, appearing in just one film. Cenere released in 1916 at a time when Duse had largely stopped performing. Despite having initial hopes that it could spark a revival in her career as a movie star, she hated her performance and never appeared in another film.
7 Nadine Nortier
French director Robert Bresson was famed for using non-professional actors and people he had never worked with before. This meant that many of his films feature previously unknown individuals taking on main roles. One of his most beloved movies was Mouchette, featuring Nadine Nortier as a child actor. Other than that movie, she has only appeared in a documentary and shorts.
6 Lucas Donat
Both of Lucas Donat’s parents were actors, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that he followed a similar path. Yet, he only appeared in one film. Donat played Mark Thorn in the horror movie Damien: Omen II. He now works as an advertising executive and as the Chief Brand Officer for TrueCar.
5 Dorothy McGowan
Dorothy McGowan was a popular model during the 1960s, appearing on the covers of a variety of prestigious magazines. Her acting career consisted of a single role in the William Klein film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? She was one of the director's favorite models and he gave her the role because of this. After this appearance, she disappeared from public view completely.
4 Stefan Güttler
Stefan Güttler played one of the major roles in the German film Heart of Glass. It tells the story of a factory owner slowly losing his mind when the secret to the production of ruby glass is lost. Güttler played this factory boss in 1976, but failed to make any further appearances in movies.
3 Anne Sellors
The actor Anne Sellors rose to some prominence in 2010. However, it was not because of any recent television or movie appearances. Instead, her IMDB listing had become a meme thanks to it being one of the strangest on the site. The teacher had only appeared in one film, the BBC drama Threads. She played Woman Who Urinates Herself and made no further appearances in any movies.
2 John Sweet
During World War II, John Sweet worked in the UK as a US Army Sergeant. He was spotted by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger while serving and they cast him to play Bob Johnson in A Canterbury Tale. This was one of the three major characters and Sweet’s performance was widely praised. However, upon completion of filming, he returned to the US & only had brief roles in the theater before returning to teaching. He donated his $2,000 fee for the movie to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
1 Dennis Wilson
Dennis Wilson is a musician who is best known for founding the Beach Boys. However, he didn’t just stick to music and also had a career in other areas. One notable example is with the Monte Hellman film Two-Lane Blacktop. Although it is now considered a cult classic and was critically acclaimed at the time, it proved to be a commercial failure and the musician didn’t appear in any further films.
Sources: newyorker, imdb, theguardian, rottentomatoes