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The Real Reason Rick Moranis Left Hollywood

Comedies like "Ghostbusters," "Spaceballs," and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" dominated the zeitgeist in the 1980s. These hits were not only beloved in their day, but they've endured in a way few '80s comedies have. But the magic these three films have in common — besides huge budgets and cutting-edge special effects — is Rick Moranis.

One of the great comedy icons of the decade, Moranis made a name for himself as a character actor. Nobody could play the lovable dope Louis Tully or the forlorn Seymour Krelborn quite like Moranis, to say nothing of his significant roles in other '80s hits like "Strange Brew," "Brewster's Millions," and "Parenthood." But shy of some voice roles, Moranis has all but disappeared from film and television. He certainly hasn't enjoyed the 21st-century roles that other '80s stars like Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, or his fellow "Ghostbusters" star, Bill Murray, have. The actor has since stepped away from the camera, leaving us to wonder exactly what happened to Moranis.

His wife passed away

Moranis, who starred in some of the biggest films of the 1980s, stopped appearing in live-action movies after his wife, Ann, died of breast cancer in 1997. Immediately after, he shifted his focus to raising their two children, and in the rare interviews he's given over the 18 years since, Moranis has remained nonchalant about his decision to become a stay-at-home dad. "I took a break, which turned into a longer break," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. Fiercely protective of his children, he won't even reveal their names to the press.

For him, trading Hollywood for parenthood wasn't unusual

These days, giving up a multimillion-dollar movie career at its peak might seem like a crazy idea. But when he made his decision to leave Hollywood, Moranis didn't think he was doing anything out of the norm.

"Stuff happens to people every day, and they make adjustments to their lives for all kinds of reasons," he said on the "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn" podcast in 2013. "There was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did."

In fact, he thinks people only paid attention because he was famous. "The decision in my case to become a stay-at-home dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn't have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of make-a-living existence ... But because I came from celebrity and fame and what was the peak of a career, that was intriguing to people. To me, it wasn't that. I didn't have anything to do with that. It was work, and it was just time to make an adjustment."

He didn't lose his creative mojo

If you thought actors could only be creative while they're in front of the camera, you obviously haven't met Rick Moranis. Speaking on the "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn" podcast, the "Ghostbusters" icon insisted he didn't lose his creative outlet once he became a full-time dad. "I applied all of my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family," Rick Moranis said. "I was the same person. I didn't change. I just shifted my focus."

And yet, there were things about acting he missed

As many parents will tell you, there can often be what Moranis described as "a lot of sameness" when it comes to raising kids. So naturally, he admitted to the "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn" podcast that there were certain parts about acting that he did actually miss. "I missed the people and I missed the very refreshing nature of doing something radically different every day," he said. "[Being a stay-at-home parent] is a very different kind of life than being on the set with Aykroyd and Murray and Steve Martin."

Still, he didn't look back with any regrets. As he put it, "I found lots of joy and lots of rewards in other places."

"I was working with really interesting people, wonderful people," he said later to The Hollywood Reporter. "I went from that to being at home with a couple of little kids, which is a very different lifestyle. But it was important to me. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. My life is wonderful."

He actually never retired

Contrary to many reports, Rick Moranis remains adamant that he never actually retired from show business. Case in point — he's done a ton of voice work over the years, including radio commercials and Disney's "Brother Bear" film series, as well as some op-ed contributing for The New York Times.

He's also released a pair of albums over the last 10-plus years. The first, "The Agoraphobic Cowboy," earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album; the second, "My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs," hit stores in 2013. In other words, he's totally still around — you just have to listen more carefully.

He shrugged off a comeback for years

Naturally, when a star as big as Moranis takes a break from making movies, the question's inevitably going to be asked: when's he gonna return? For years, Moranis dodged that question, often implying that acting just wasn't on his radar.

"I'm a single parent, and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies," he told USA Today in 2006 while promoting "The Agoraphobic Cowboy." "I found that I really didn't miss it. In the last few years I've been offered a number of parts in movies, and I've just turned them down. I don't know whether I'll go back to it or not. I've been doing a lot of writing and a lot of parenting, and now I'm doing this."

"I'm comfortable with where I live," he reiterated on the "Bullseye with Jesse Thorn" podcast in 2013. "There's certain places I'm not interested in being. I'm not interested in doing anything I've done in the past ... I have no idea. It's not something I've given any thought to at all."

But now, his tune may have changed

Now that his kids have grown up, Moranis admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he's potentially interested in pursuing a live-action role in the future. It's just going to have to be the right one.

"I'm interested in anything that I would find interesting," he said. "I still get the occasional query about a film or television role and as soon as one comes along that piques my interest, I'll probably do it."

At the end of the interview, he elaborated: "I'm happy with the things I said yes to, and I'm very happy with the many things I've said no to. Yes, I am picky, and I'll continue to be picky. Picky has worked for me." Ugh. Biggest tease ever?

He turned down Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot

Paul Feig's highly anticipated "Ghostbusters" reboot is among the many scripts that have come Moranis' way over the years. Despite the fact that the movie will include cameos from the likes of Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, and Dan Aykroyd, he ultimately turned the project down. The reason: "[It] didn't appeal to me," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

"I wish them well," he continued. "I hope it's terrific. But it just makes no sense to me. Why would I do just one day of shooting on something I did 30 years ago?" Fair enough — but we're still pretty bummed he said no.

His first comeback role was reprising one of his most beloved characters

A few major roles come to mind when people think of Rick Moranis — most likely at the top of that list is Louis Tully in "Ghostbusters," Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors," or Wayne Szalinski in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." For a certain generation, Moranis made us laugh the hardest as Dark Helmet, the Vader-esque villain of "Spaceballs."

Apparently, Moranis felt a great disturbance in the Schwartz, as the power of Dark Helmet is what pulled him back to the world of television. However, it wasn't the long-hoped-for sequel film—it was an episode of the ABC comedy "The Goldbergs."

In the Season 5 episode entitled "Spaceballs," Adam gets obsessed with the film and even has a dream where Dark Helmet confronts him. The team behind "The Goldbergs" convinced Moranis to reprise his role, though it is voice-only. Moranis is not actually underneath the massive headwear, and he never appears on-screen. Even still, it's good to hear Moranis bringing the character back to life as he battles Adam with the Schwartz and even talks him through his script for "Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money."

He survived an assault in New York City

Rick Moranis isn't always in the news because of his entertainment career. In 2020, he was actually a victim of a pretty scary crime — something that the actor was lucky didn't cause more physical damage.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the then-67-year-old Moranis was walking down the street in New York City when he was approached by a man. The individual punched Moranis and fled the scene, causing minor injuries to the actor. Moranis received care at a local hospital, then filed a police report. A suspect was identified and arrested soon after.

The suspect, Marquis Ventura, later pleaded guilty to his charges in 2022. He has been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia, but a series of violent attacks from that same day resulted in him being charged with multiple counts of assault and one count of larceny. The same day he punched Moranis, he also stole a bottle of champagne and attacked the owner of the liquor store he took it from. He also beat up a customer at a different shop and is linked to other assaults from around the same time.

Fans are still holding out hope that he'll return to the Ghostbusters franchise

Though Moranis didn't return to Paul Feig's 2016 female-focused "Ghostbusters" reboot, fans never gave up hope that they'll see Louis Tully again. When "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," yet another reboot-sequel, was announced, certain cast members hinted that we might see Moranis step back into the shoes of the Keymaster of Gozer.

In an interview with Living Life Fearless, actor Ernie Hudson was asked if Moranis would reprise his role, alongside the remaining "Ghostbusters" actors for the film. He responded, "I think the studios probably want to hold that one. I love Rick. But yeah, I'll let them share that."

Moranis did not make an appearance in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," but the film did well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel. That sequel will hit theaters near the end of 2023, and it will return to New York City. That makes the return of Louis Tully more likely, so it's probably our best chance yet of seeing Moranis return to the role.

His first appearance on screen in almost two decades was a mobile phone commercial

With fans jonesing for hits of nostalgia, it seemed that a fan-favorite role (with a major paycheck attached) would be the thing that could lure Rick Moranis back to the big screen. He did reprise his role as the "Spaceballs" villain Dark Helmet on "The Goldbergs," but it was only a voice role. Would his first on-screen appearance in almost twenty years be Louis Tully? At-home scientist Wayne Szalinski? Canadian beer enthusiast Bob McKenzie?

Not even close. In 2020, Moranis appeared onscreen as ... himself. And it wasn't in a movie or TV series — it was a Mint Mobile commercial.

The commercial features Mint Mobile's owner, actor Ryan Reynolds, introducing the company's new unlimited plan. He brings out Rick Moranis, who stands next to him and asks what he's supposed to say. Reynolds tells him that he doesn't need him to advertise anything with a plan as good as this and that he only hired him because he's a huge fan. "That's it?" Moranis asks, before walking off the screen with a wave. It may not be the return fans hoped for, but any Rick Moranis is better than no Rick Moranis.

He's reprising another fan-favorite role in a Disney+ sequel

This one is the juicy one. Moranis did some VO work as Dark Helmet on "The Goldbergs," and he appeared on camera for a Mint Mobile commercial a few years later, but fans have waited almost two decades for Moranis to return to the big screen. It sounds like we won't have to wait much longer, and it's for one of Moranis' most beloved roles: Wayne Szalinski, the kid-shrinking scientist from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."

Moranis is returning to the role in the Disney+ sequel, entitled "Shrunk." Originally thought to be a reboot, it's now being pitched as a true sequel to the original films. Josh Gad will play the grown-up version of Nick, one of Wayne Szalinski's kids who was hit by his shrink ray in the original film. Reports on the film indicate that Nick will follow in his father's footsteps, as he accidentally winds up shrinking his own children in this film. Maybe he calls in Grandpa Wayne to help save the day?

There haven't been many specifics released about "Shrunk" yet, but we do know that it's headed to Disney+ when it's ready. The return of Moranis is the big draw, so it'll surely garner some attention for that reason alone.