Cameron Diaz tells Gwyneth Paltrow why she quit acting

She had it all, in terms of a Hollywood career, but the star believes she gained more by leaving it all behind.
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Cameron Diaz opens up to Gwyneth Paltrow about her decision to leave her successful movie career behind.Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic
/ Source: TODAY

Cameron Diaz broke into showbiz back in the 1990s and quickly rose through the ranks in Hollywood, going on to become a big screen star known for her work in rom-coms, thrillers, action flicks and animated features.

But a few years ago, she walked away from what many people would describe as an absolute dream job — and now the 47-year-old retired actor is revealing exactly why she did that.

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In an interview with pal Gwyneth Paltrow for the latest episode of “In Goop Health: The Sessions,” Diaz explained that with age, she found clarity.

“I think you just build a life when you’re in your 20s and 30s, and then into your 40s, as you know, it’s a completely different thing,” she said. “But here I am. I’m in my 40s, (and) I’m completely starting over.”

And that makes perfect sense to her.

“In our 20s, we’re just trying to figure our s--- out," she continued. "We’re like, ‘I am so messed up.' You’re realizing how damaged you are in this way where you’re like, ‘Wait a second. There might be an issue here.’ And then in your 30s, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m getting my footing.’ And in your 40s, you’re like, ‘Oh, my God! I’ve got to do something about this.’”

Diaz in 1998's "There's Something About Mary."Everett Collection

Diaz added that with age comes an urgency to make course corrections to make sure she’s always on the right path, noting, “I’ve got to be quicker to identify the things that I’m holding on to and cut them loose and do my best to make the decisions that help me move forward and upward.”

That is what ultimately led her to leave acting behind.

“I just decided that I wanted different things out of my life,” the model-turned-actor-turned-author told Paltrow. “I’d gone so hard for so long, working and making films, and it’s such a grind. I didn’t really make any space for my personal life. And then I decided to stop making movies and really focus on my personal life, my personal relationships with my family, with my friends."

And with the man who would become her husband, Benji Madden. Diaz met the Good Charlotte rocker shortly after turning her back on Tinseltown, and their whirlwind romance changed her life.

Benji Madden and Cameron Diaz said their "I dos" in 2015.Donato Sardella / Getty Images

“Benj and I met each other, and we got married, pretty much immediately, because we both knew we had to do it,” she said. “We needed to have this.”

It was a revelation for the star who’d famously spoke about the benefits of singledom and about the ease of a child-free life — before going on to start a family with Madden. The couple announced the birth of their first child, daughter Raddix, earlier this year.

“It's a funny journey, but I’m glad to be here, for sure,” she insisted.

And it all started with that big decision to quit the big screen.

“I really looked at my life, and I saw what I had been,” Diaz said. “When you’re making a movie, it’s a perfect excuse, they own you. You’re there 12 hours a day for months on end, and you have no time for anything else. And I realized I handed off parts of my life to all these other people. … I needed to become self-sufficient again, you know. I really needed to know that I could take care of myself and that I knew how to be an adult.”

That’s why, when she looks back on her all-important career move now, she knows she made the right decision. She gained more than a sense of self-sufficiency and a family.

As she put it, “I got a peace in my soul because I finally was taking care of myself."