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Why Jake From 'Two And A Half Men' Walked Away From Millions Of Dollars And His Career In Hollywood

CBS / Splash

A sure sign that you're getting older is seeing child stars grow up before your eyes.

I'm at the uncomfortable time in my life when the TV "kids" I grew up watching are getting married and starting families.

Of course things aren't always so easy for children who grow up in the spotlight.

After he seemed to vanish from Hollywood years ago, fans became concerned for Two and a Half Men's Angus T. Jones.

But the star has his own surprising reasons for quitting show business.

The child star

Angus T. Jones in 'The Rookie.'
'The Rookie' (1993)Buena Vista Pictures

After landing his first acting role at age six, Jones's adorably pudgy face and his impressive acting skills earned him a lot of roles.

He appeared in See Spot Run, E.R., Disney's The Rookie, and the second George of the Jungle movie.

But of course his big break came at age 10, when he was cast as the "half man" on Two and a Half Men.

America's favorite sitcom

The cast of 'Two and a Half Men.'
CBS

As the troublemaker Jake, Jones was the perfect counterpart for his geeky dad (Jon Cryer) and his playboy uncle (Charlie Sheen).

The show became a massive success, and soon Jones was one of the most famous children in America.

But as his career took off, things weren't so rosy behind the scenes.

TV's highest-paid kid

Jones was a crucial part of Two and a Half Men's success, and his hefty paycheck reflected that.

The cast of 'Two and a Half Men.'
AP

His costar, Charlie Sheen, was making $2 million an episode at the height of the show's popularity.

Jones wasn't far behind, signing a massive $7.8 million contract when he was only 17.

But even as he made $300,000 an episode, Jones was starting to get fed up with his show.

"I'm a paid hypocrite"

As a teenager, the show's writers stopped giving Jones innocent story-lines and made his character an edgy, pot-smoking womanizer.

Jones says he found it "very awkward" to do the "adult thing" in episodes that involved seducing older women.

Angus T. Jones
CBS

Part of the star's discomfort came from his newfound faith as a Seventh-day Adventist.

In interview, Jones called the show "filth," and said he was a "paid hypocrite" for appearing on it.

"You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that," he said on a Christian web program.

The comments rubbed producers the wrong way, and soon Jones's character was replaced by Amber Tamblyn (who played Charlie's daughter).

Jones hasn't returned to the spotlight since then, but these days he's still keeping busy with other jobs.

“I wasn’t the center of everyone’s attention, and that was nice.”

Jones returned to Two and a Half Men for a handful of cameos, but basically disappeared from the show after season 11.

That was just fine for the young actor, who focused on getting a degree from the University of Colorado Boulder instead.

Angus T. Jones
Jones sports a beard in a recent photo.Splash

Jones says that getting away from Hollywood and living "a normal existence" was good for him.

"I wasn't the center of everyone's attention," he said, "and that was nice."

"I got pretty doomsday with my thinking"

With only one new acting role since Two and a Half Men ended, Jones seems focused on his new job as a manager for an event production company.

But he hasn't ruled out a comeback.

"If you’d asked me a few years ago if I wanted to get back involved in the industry, I would have said, ‘No. Not at all,’" Jones told People.

"I got pretty doomsday with my thinking for a long time, but now I’m having fun and enjoying where I’m at," he said. "I no longer feel like every step I take is on a land mine."

As it turns out, Jones actually ended up being one of Hollywood's most well-adjusted child stars.

Other celebrities weren't so lucky.

Child stars in trouble

Famously, all three of the young stars of Diff'rent Strokes struggled after leaving the show.

The cast of 'Diff'rent Strokes.'
NBC

Todd Bridges, who played Willis, revealed to Oprah Winfrey that he was sexually assaulted as a child by his manager.

As he struggled to find acting roles, Bridges developed a drug addiction and was even charged with the murder of a drug dealer (he was found not guilty).

Dana Plato, who played his adopted sister Kimberly, didn't fare much better.

A drug addict from age 14, Plato eventually resorted to petty crime and starring in adult movies to make ends meet.

She died at age 34 from a drug overdose that was later ruled a suicide.

America's smallest star

Born with a kidney condition that froze his height at 4 feet, 8 inches tall, the show's star Gary Coleman led a difficult life even before he was cast as Arnold Jackson.

Gary Coleman.
NBC

Coleman's parents, lawyers and advisers took most of his earnings from the show, forcing Coleman to take odd jobs like security work as an adult.

Coleman was also sent to jail for multiple assault cases, and was involved in a messy public divorce.

He died at age 42 after suffering a seizure at his home.

Life can be so difficult for child stars, luckily Jones is actually doing well!

[H/T: People]