Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: 25 Notable Recluses

Books Lists Heart
Share Tweet Submit Pin

6. Lauryn Hill
Famous For: Her work with the Fugees and excellent solo album, 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Reclusive Tendencies: After the incredible success of her debut solo record, Lauryn Hill had the life she’d dreamed of since childhood. She was developing a biopic about boyfriend Rohan Marley’s father, in which she planned to star as Bob Marley’s wife. She was set to produce a romantic comedy about soul food, and had a major role in the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Poised for even greater stardom, Hill dropped the projects after she became pregnant and has hardly been heard from since. There was a sketchy performance for MTV’s Unplugged, a few stabs at an attempt to reunite the Fugees, and endless promises of new music, but mostly Hill stayed underground, refusing to grant interviews without exorbitant compensation.

7. Johnny Depp
Famous For: His role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, playing an endless string of endearing weirdos for Tim Burton, and so on
Reclusive Tendencies: People magazine’s 2009 Sexiest Man Alive can’t exactly avoid the probing of fans and journalists while starring in one blockbuster after another, but he sure does try. In a 2009 interview, Depp told the Daily Telegraph that the attention of zealous fans keeps him homebound when he’s not filming. “If the choice is between being constantly gawked at and sitting in a chair in a dark room, I prefer the dark room,” he said.

8. Steve Ditko
Famous For: Co-creating and illustrating The Adventures of Spiderman comic book
Reclusive Tendencies: Ditko is credited by fans as being the true genius behind Marvel’s Spiderman comics, and it has been speculated that he left his post there due to frustration over not being given his due by an overbearing Stan Lee. Others believe that a falling out between Ditko and Lee over the identity of the Green Goblin led to the split. After all these years, the truth has never come out, Ditko refusing to ever grant an interview.

9. Cormac McCarthy
Famous For: Novels such as The Road, Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men and All the Pretty Horses
Reclusive Tendencies: Perhaps more of a Pynchonian recluse than the troglodyte he’s made out to be, McCarthy is just more likely to be hanging out at the Sante Fe Institute than going on book tours, according to a 2007 profile by David Kushner. SFI tries to answer such questions as, “Why financial markets crash. How terrorist cells form. Why viruses spread. How life ends.” What better place for a man who’s made a career writing about destruction to seek inspiration?

10. Howard Hughes
Famous For: The billionaire entrepreneur was profiled in 2004’s The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Reclusive Tendencies: After a career as a highly visible inventor and wooer of some of Hollywood’s most glamorous women, Hughes began to fade from public life in the 1950s. A fear of germs and deep paranoia about having his power usurped led Hughes to spend the last decades of his life in near total isolation. He was so successful in removing himself from the outside world that, before his death in 1976, the IRS considered declaring him legally dead in order to collect taxes on his massive estate. When news of his passing reached Washington, IRS officials were dispatched to take fingerprints from his corpse to prove it was really the elusive Howard Hughes in the casket.