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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Quitting the fame game
Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson felt he was treated as a "puppet"
The media have long been accused of prying too far into the private lives of celebrities but where would those same celebrities be without the media?

Royle Family writer and actress Caroline Aherne has taken the decision to quit television in the hope of getting back some of her privacy.

She had become darling of the tabloids for her unpredictability at celebrity events.

But when a paparazzo followed her to the island of Mauritius she made her made up her mind to quit.

She had also found the press were impinging on those close to her it was a case of "enough is enough" and announced her early retirement from the public eye.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has threatened to quit pop
Aherne joins a select few who have turned their backs on fame and fortune in search of the quieter things in life.

Celebrities are increasingly finding themselves photographed while unguarded, but authorities have found it difficult to interpret the fine line between public and private places.

Broadcaster Anna Ford failed in her complaint against a national newspaper when she was snapped on a beach.

The paper successfully argued it was not a place she could expect privacy.

Guarded

Though many complain about the problem of press intrusion, only a select few quit the business to escape.

Actress Greta Garbo had secured millions of fans with her mysteriousness and mesmerising performances.

But she retired at the height of her career in 1941, having tried desperately to guard her personal life from the press.

She lived as a recluse until her death in 1990.

Bridget Bardot is another major star who shunned life on the big screen.

Caroline Aherne
Caroline Aherne wants to protect those around her
The former movie star and sex symbol retired from public life more than 30 years ago.

She opted to ditch the limelight in favour of championing the rights of animals.

But she has still attracted the attention of the press with some of her outspoken comments.

The star has three times been convicted of inciting racial hatred against Muslims in her native France, mainly for their practice of slaughtering sheep for religious worship.

Bardot established the Foundation for the Protection of Distressed Animals in 1976 and has raised 330,000 by selling off her jewellery and memorabilia.

Exaggerate

More recently, pop star Michael Jackson last year threatened to quit the music business and blamed the press for creating an image of him as a freak.

He said: "People think I'm this monster, this crazy person who's bizarre and weird.

"All of Hollywood has plastic surgery. I don't know why they point me out.

"The press has exaggerated it. It's just my nose, you know. They want it to be everything."

US actress Ellen DeGeneres and her former partner Anne Heche took time out from the fame game in 1998.

The pair had come out as lesbians and said they had found it difficult to deal with the way the industry and the media had reacted to them.

They took a year off from acting but eventually split up.

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis famously opted out of the Hollywood rat race to live a basic life in Italy.

He was reportedly working as a shoemaker's apprentice.

Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar in 1990 for his role in My Left Foot, was said to be living "quietly" in Florence with his wife Rebecca and their one-year-old son and working as a shoemaker's apprentice.

But he is now making a comeback in the Martin Scorsese-directed film Gangs of New York, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

Rick Astley
Cutting out fame: Rick Astley
Also slated to appear in the movie, due for release later in 2001, is Liam Neeson.

After the filming his role as the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jin in the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace, he told reporters he was quitting Hollywood.

He said that after 20 years in the business he had become disillusioned and felt actors were treated as "puppets".

He had planned to spend time with his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, and their two sons.

Barber

One celebrity who successfully made the break with fame was 1980s pop star Rick Astley.

Although he had phenomenal chart success he never felt comfortable being in the limelight.

After only two years he took a step back and let himself disappear from the scene altogether.

He has now set himself up as a the owner of a hairdressing salon, showing that fame did not go to his head.

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See also:

09 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Royle star Aherne 'quits' TV
07 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Jackson might quit pop
07 May 99 | Entertainment
Star Wars star quits Hollywood
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