What Happened to Actor Rick Moranis?

rick-moranisJanet Jackson and wardrobe malfunction.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Sonny and Cher.  Some things just go together.  Sort of how I feel about Canadian-American actor Rick Moranis and the movies Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Ghostbusters. Whenever I hear his name, I have immediate flashbacks of oversized Cheerios and milk splashing out of a giant bowl.  But what happened to the guy with horn-rimmed glasses?  What is he doing now?

Not acting.

A comedy-genius, Moranis quietly vanished from acting in 1997, when he was last seen on screen in the movie titled ‘Big Bully.’  He had been slowly disappearing from the public eye after his wife’s death from breast cancer that had spread to her liver in 1991.

Why the disappearing act?  He chose to leave Hollywood to be a stay-at-home dad and raise his children.

A few months ago (July of 2013), he opened up about his unpopular choice to walk away from fame at the peak of his career during a rare interview on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. (Definitely worth a full listen if you’re a fan of Moranis.)  The actor says he simply wanted to recreate the same wonderful childhood for his kids that he experienced.

In his own words:

Well, stuff happens to people everyday and they make adjustments in their lives for all kinds of reasons, and there was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did. I think the reason people were intrigued about the decisions I was making, and sometimes seem to have almost admiration for it, had less to do with the fact that I was doing what I was doing and more to do with what they thought I was walking away from- as if what I was walking away from had far greater value than anything else might.

The decision in my case to become a stay at home dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant much to people if I had had a very simple kind of “make-a-living” existence and decided, “You know what? I need to spend more time at home. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do this part time and then work out of my house to do this and this and this.”

But because I came from celebrity and fame and what was a peak of a career, that was intriguing to people and to me it wasn’t that. It wasn’t anything to do with that. It was just work and it was time to make an adjustment…

I was trying to recreate a lot of the joy I experienced as a kid… [I] kind of decided to follow the adage of “90% of the success is showing up or being there” and I found that to be true.  Just being there was the best thing I could do.  That’s what I experienced with my mother at home all the time and so when my kids came home there was music and there were lights on there were great smells coming out of the kitchen and it was just always a joyous place to be and that’s what I wanted, what I wanted to create.

I didn’t walk away from [my creativity], I applied all my creativity to my home life, to me kids, to my family.  I was the same person, I didn’t change, I just shifted my focus.

So does he miss acting?

I missed the people, and I missed the very refreshing nature of doing something radically different every day.  Raising kids and being a stay at home parent, especially being a single stay at home parent, is a lot of sameness.  It’s a very different kind of life than being on a set with Aykroyd and Murray and Steve Martin…

Will Moranis make a return to the limelight? After all, his kids are grown now.

I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve done in the past.  In terms of being on camera, I have no idea. It’s not something I’ve given any thought to at all…

I have never had a plan, I’ve never had any forethought of anything I’ve ever done.  I just kind of looked at opportunities, said no to most things and sometimes whatever was left standing was the thing that I went for and sometimes something came along that was so appealing I just jumped at it…

In the end, Moranis summed up his disappearance from acting quite well:

I’m a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the travelling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • In 2005, Moranis released a comedy country song album,  The Agoraphobic Cowboy, which ultimately was nominated for a Best Comedy Album Grammy.  Just last May, he also released another comedy album, My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs.
  • How did Moranis get his start in comedy?  His first job was selling programs at hockey games as a young teenager.  To try to sell more programs and get a tip in the process, he started yelling out funny things like “Souvenir Hot Dogs, Ice Cold Programs…”  Later, he wrote comedy sketches for CBS radio and television while still in high school, as well as worked as an afternoon deejay for CHUM-FM in Toronto.  He moved on to performing comedy in a local troupe, which led to a television career with the popular TV series SCTV, where he won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in 1982.  Moranis eventually found himself performing on the big screen.
  • Though we haven’t seen Moranis act since 1997, we have heard his voice on the big screen.  His pipes were featured in the animated film titled Brother Bear in 2003, and Brother Bear 2 in 2006.
  • Moranis turned down an offer to reunite with the cast of Ghostbusters to make a video-game version of the movie.  Not that he didn’t consider taking the gig, but he says he just couldn’t make it work.
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  • Interesting, I had heard that he made so much money on the series of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids films, that he didn’t need to work anymore (which may have helped). Nice to have some more clarity.

    • Yeah, I had heard the same thing but I always thought it was probably a simplification of his saying something like, “Well, I never have to work again if I don’t want to, so I figured why not spend some time with my kids?”

  • Good for him! Far too few people put their kids ahead of their careers. In Rick’s case, he could afford to do that and did!

  • I grew up watching Rick. Was always one of my most favorite comedy actors. Hated he left T.V. and movies. Even in times when looks was everything, everyone looked past the geek glasses, or nerd look and saw a very funny, smart, wonderful, thoughtful, awesome, briliant, not last but least FUNNY wander full man and actor. He done what any loving father would’very done in his situation. God bless him for his decision to be a stay at home father. My hats off to u Mr. Moranis. Would love to see you in movies again sometime. Thanks for the awesome movies and memories

  • I love Moranis acting

  • cool. miss u rick.

  • My Blue Haven is awesome, watching it now as I type this. I wish Rick would come back to do comedy films, he is so funny.

  • If I had the money he made I probably would be also a “dad at home”…. so, nope.. at 55, still going from 9-to-5….

  • I would love to see him in one more movie. Even if its a cameo.

  • Well this article became ironic.