Jennifer Love Hewitt in 1996

When it comes to icons of the ’90s, few actresses had a bigger profile than Jennifer Love Hewitt; at the height of her fame, Hewitt seemed to be on track to become one of the world’s biggest stars.

Hewitt’s career began when she was scouted at just 10 years old by an agent. She and her mother relocated to Los Angeles, and soon Hewitt found acting work. She made regular appearances on "Kids Incorporated" and other shows and films. In 1995, Hewitt shot to fame with a role in the series "Party of Five," and this led to memorable roles in movies like "House Arrest," "Trojan War," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and "Can’t Hardly Wait" (via IMDb). It’s clear that she was one of the big it-girls of the decade.

However, these days, Hewitt’s fame has dimmed, and she no longer holds a place in the spotlight as she once did. In fact, she even took a three-year break from acting starting in 2015. So, what actually became of the ’90s star, and why did she vanish from our screens? Here’s why we never hear about Jennifer Love Hewitt anymore.

Jennifer Love Hewitt worked incredibly hard as a child actor

Jennifer Love Hewitt smiling in 1997

One of the reasons that Jennifer Love Hewitt may have eventually faded from the spotlight is that she was simply exhausted. The actress had been a child star, and by the looks of things, she worked extremely hard from a very early age. After landing her role in "Kids Incorporated," which ran from 1989 to 1991, Hewitt took on at least one project every year until 2015; some years were mind-blowingly busy. In 1998, for instance, she starred in six films and TV shows, as well as her own music video (via IMDb).

As she explained to the Los Angeles Times, Hewitt worked incredibly hard as a young actor out of fear. In fact, her total focus on her career meant that she never went to college. "I was afraid that I was going to lose it all," she confessed. Apparently, Hewitt actually found the idea of taking a break "scary." No wonder the star eventually needed to slow down! She must have felt seriously wiped out.

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s career began to take off in the ’90s

Jennifer Love Hewitt began her career with tons of promise. In fact, in the early days, the idea of her fading out of the spotlight seemed unthinkable. As of 1997, the star had officially become one of Hollywood’s major up-and-comers after her role in "Trojan War." After this film, she was officially slated as the latest "girl next door." This role was followed by a starring turn in the iconic "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

All the while, Hewitt was also racking up the awards and nominations in her early career. In 1988, she won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Female Newcomer for "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Then in 1999, she won a Teen Choice Award for "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer." And in 2000, Hewitt won a People’s Choice Award for "Time of Your Life," and the list goes on. It’s clear that Hollywood loved Hewitt and she seemed on course to reach the very top of her game.

Jennifer Love Hewitt was shocked when Ghost Whisperer was canceled

From 2005 to 2010, Jennifer Love Hewitt starred in "Ghost Whisperer," a show about a woman who can talk to the spirits of dead people. While the show didn’t receive amazing reviews, it certainly touched people’s heartstrings and had a dedicated fan base. As one fan wrote for Entertainment Weekly, "When Melinda (Hewitt) cries, I cry."

It seems that Hewitt also thought the show was pretty good, as when CBS canceled it in 2010, Hewitt told Zap2it that she was extremely surprised. "For me, it was a total shock… I thought our next season probably would be the last, just because the show had been on for a really long time," she explained (via TV Series Finale). "It’s hard to come up with new things that will keep people intrigued, but I never thought in a million years that was going to have been our last season." Sounds like the abrupt ending of the show was pretty disappointing for the star. She even added, "We left the audience sort of hanging, and I hate that."

Jennifer Love Hewitt has had a tumultuous relationship with the tabloids

Despite Jennifer Love Hewitt’s early success, things weren’t always easy for the rising star. Like all big celebrities, Hewitt was forced to deal with the overly attentive and occasionally invasive press.

In 2002, Hewitt opened up to the Independent about the tabloids. "I read that I was so upset when I saw a girl who was going out with an ex-boyfriend, that I passed out in a clothes store," she recalled. Sounds like the press had a habit of making things up about the star. Additionally, years later, in 2012, the tabloids were still hounding Hewitt. At the time, she reportedly tweeted, "Read like 10 rumors about myself today! So crazy!" (via IMDb).

It’s no surprise that the constant tabloid attention eventually got to the actress. Apparently, she once said, "Magazines and opinions of you and stuff like that, those will change, but your opinion of yourself does not have to based on what other people say." It’s clear that Hewitt had to learn to ignore the press — but nevertheless, she probably doesn’t mind leaving the spotlight if it means a little less attention!

Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t a huge hit with the critics

Even though Jennifer Love Hewitt had a very promising career as a young woman, her films weren’t always that successful with the critics. This may be another reason why the star slowly slipped out of the spotlight. According to a study of the review website Rotten Tomatoes by Slate, Hewitt is, overall, the worst-reviewed actress since 1985 – yikes!

As Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine, who created the study, explained, "Hewitt has the rare distinction of never having made a single ‘fresh’ (above 60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) film." Apparently, her shockingly low score is thanks to a series of "duds," including "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit," the first two "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movies, and the two "Garfield" movies.

To be fair, while Hewitt may not have enjoyed lots of critical success, the actress was certainly a fan favorite in her heyday. For a while, her face really was everywhere! Nevertheless, the constant poor critical reception couldn’t have been easy to stomach.

Jennifer Love Hewitt was accused of being a diva while filming The Client List

From 2011 to 2013, Jennifer Love Hewitt starred in and produced "The Client List," an "unabashedly cheesy" show about professional masseuses who provide "extra" services (via Variety). However, the show didn’t receive great reviews; plus, rumors began to spread about Hewitt’s diva-like tendencies.

According to Deadline, Hewitt kicked up a fuss with producers of the show over the casting of her character’s baby daddy. When Hewitt became pregnant, she was apparently keen to cast her real-life partner Brian Hallisay in the role. Hallisay was already acting on the show as a series regular (he was reportedly promoted after he began dating Hewitt). However, producers had other ideas about who would take on the role. It seems that the debate even delayed the third season of the show.

Eventually, the show was canceled before the third season, and according to Entertainment Weekly, Hewitt’s impasse with the show’s producers had something to do with it.

In 2013, Jennifer Love Hewitt had daughter Autumn Hallisay

In 2013, Jennifer Love Hewitt had her first child, Autumn Hallisay. Five days before giving birth, she also tied the knot with fellow actor Brian Hallisay (via Mother & Baby). As the actress explained to Mouths of Mums, having her first child was pretty scary. "Those first couple of nights, it was wild," she revealed. She went on to explain that she thought parents should be forced to get a license before being allowed to take their child home. Apparently, her husband agreed, saying, "It’s terrifying."

Becoming a mother came with its challenges for Hewitt, who was still trying to focus on her career. "Having been somebody who has had to think about what my body looked like for 25 years, it was hard when it [the weight] didn’t come off," she confessed. It sounds like Hewitt didn’t always find it easy to deal with the combined pressures of motherhood and stardom. It’s no wonder she decided to take a break from her career a few years later.

Jennifer Love Hewitt joined the cast of Criminal Minds, and fans weren’t happy

While Jennifer Love Hewitt has always credited her children as a main reason for taking a break, there may be another reason, too. At the time of her break, Hewitt had been appearing on "Criminal Minds" as Kate. However, some fans weren’t particularly pleased with her performance or her character in the show. In fact, a petition was even started to have her removed. On the petition page, a fan wrote, "The acting and writing for this character is just wild corny." Yikes.

However, Hewitt left "Criminal Minds" when she got pregnant for the second time. According to showrunner Erica Messer, who spoke to Entertainment Weekly at the time, the team hadn’t planned on writing the character out of the show. "We went back into the writers’ room and discussed options of how to do that," she explained. Messer went on to explain that the team understood her decision. "Timing-wise there was no way for her to do both, to be able to give that baby everything she wanted to give that baby and still be on our show."

After having her second child in 2015, Jennifer Love Hewitt stepped back from acting

Even though Jennifer Love Hewitt continued acting after having her first child, by the time her second child came in 2015, she decided that she needed a proper break. After all, she’d gone through two pregnancies in quick succession. And, as Hewitt explained to Parents, her second pregnancy was extra difficult. "This time I’m chasing around a 17-month-old rather than [enjoying] the relaxing spa appointments during my first," she shared. "And there’s a different human in there than the first time." Sounds like she had more than enough on her plate!

Hewitt explained the reason for her decision to Working Mother. Apparently, her friends and colleagues couldn’t understand her rationale. "They were like, ‘You’re in the middle of a career; you can’t do that,’" she said. "But I was like, ‘I can because that’s what’s in my heart.’" Hewitt went on to explain that while she admires other women who manage to go back to work after a pregnancy, for her, it wasn’t the right choice. "I needed to work on myself, get into a different place before being able to do that," she added.

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s mother’s death was another factor in her decision to take a break

While having two young kids at home was a big factor in Jennifer Love Hewitt’s decision to step back from her career, she was also dealing with the loss of her mother. As she explained to the Los Angeles Times, "I had needed to take some time for myself and needed to grieve my mother."

Hewitt also added that her mother’s death led to some issues with anxiety. "I think, initially, I went into survival mode," she continued. "I knew that I couldn’t sit indoors and just grieve her." So, she decided to move — she traveled and saw the world.

However, after traveling, Hewitt became even more fearful; she explained how this affected her acting. "I think because I was so fearful, for me to act and to have to tap into those things not in a safe place, would have been really hard for me," she added. "So I do think that that was part of why acting scared me at that time." Hewitt clearly needed to heal from her mother’s death before exploring the complex emotions of other characters.

Jennifer Love Hewitt returned to acting after three years off in 2018 with a sense of balance

After a three-year break, Jennifer Love Hewitt finally returned to our screens in 2018 with "9-1-1" — and with renewed energy and vigor! "I’ve really enjoyed the break," she revealed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It’s really done a beautiful thing for me in that it’s made everything that I do in my acting/entertainment life not less important, but less like, ‘It’s everything all the time,’ like it used to be." Sounds like the actress returned to work with a sense of balance — meaning no more jam-packed years with five or six projects!

As Hewitt explained to Working Mother, she also took on some other new projects in addition to acting. Apparently, she wrote a children’s book and started creating wines with husband Brian Hallisay. It’s clear the actress had other things on her mind than just her entertainment career — and it’s probably for the best!

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s return to acting was hard because of her kids

While Jennifer Love Hewitt did return to acting in 2018 after a few years off, she didn’t come back in full force. As she explained at Fox’s Summer TCA party (via People), she was careful to think about her kids in her decision-making. However, while Hewitt’s return to work was a bit of a transition for her children, it was even more difficult for her. "It’s been a little bit of a hard adjustment," she confessed. "Much harder on me than my kids."

The actress also spoke to Us Weekly about how her kids have changed her emotional intelligence. "I think before becoming a parent, love was something that sounded beautiful and was out there and portrayed in movies and felt at certain times when I met my husband," she shared. But once Hewitt had kids, she experienced love for her husband and children that she’d never felt before. "It opens you up in a way that makes you more vulnerable than you could ever possibly imagine," she continued.

Because Jennifer Love Hewitt was a child actor, her break helped her discover real life

As Jennifer Love Hewitt explained to the Los Angeles Times, her experiences while she was away from movie sets all helped her to become a better actor when she returned. As she put it, "I also feel like I have new things to pull from as an actress that I didn’t have before."

According to Hewitt, who’s a pretty good authority on the subject, child actors are expected to "pull from all these life experiences that so many of us haven’t had." She also recalled one young actress she worked with on "Ghost Whisperer" who didn’t know what love felt like and struggled to portray it on screen. For Hewitt, her acting as a kid was similar. "I feel like I acted for a lot of years from my heart, but not really, truly understanding some of the things that I understand now," she continued. It sounds like the break was what the actress needed to come back to her career with an even better understanding of portraying real emotions.

Jennifer Love Hewitt was fed up with reporters asking inappropriate questions

A young Jennifer Love Hewitt

In a 2021 interview, Jennifer Love Hewitt revealed another reason why she may have needed to take some time off acting. As she told Vulture, the film "Heartbreakers" ended up putting her under intense media scrutiny. Apparently, the press became obsessed with her body and constantly asked her about it.

As Hewitt explained, hindsight is 20/20. "Now that I’m older, I think, ‘Gosh, I wish that I had known how inappropriate that was so I could have defended myself somehow or just not answered those questions,’" she said. She added, "The conversation for a very long time in my career was always about [my body] first — then, ‘Oh yeah, you were really great in the movie, too."

However, it’s clear that she was getting fed up. In fact, she even wore a shirt that said "Silicone Free" to a press conference as a message to the reporters. Yikes, no wonder Hewitt wanted a break.

Jennifer Love Hewitt announced she was expecting a third child

Jennifer Love Hewitt pregnant

In 2021, Jennifer Love Hewitt announced that she was expecting her third child with her husband, Brian Hallisay, according to People. Apparently, the child came as a bit of a surprise. As she told the publication, she and her husband hadn’t been expecting a third child, but the news was welcome. "We had always been open to a third, but definitely didn’t think in the crazy year that the entire world was having that it would necessarily be this moment," she shared.

Hewitt used the opportunity to partner with Clearblue’s #ItStartsWithMom, which, as she wrote on Instagram, "helps provide moms and soon-to-be moms with resources and information on all topics ranging from getting ready to be a mom to maternal mental health and wellness." Not only is Hewitt preparing for another child, she’s also using her pregnancy as a means to promote educational resources for other young expectant mothers. We’re impressed, though we wouldn’t be surprised if all this pulls her away from the public eye.

Will she keep acting after the birth of her third baby?

Jennifer Love Hewitt smiling

In 2021, Jennifer Love Hewitt starred in the fourth season of "9-1-1" as Maddie, a 911 dispatcher. And it seems that she has no intention of taking a break from the show to raise her third child. In fact, it looks like she’ll continue playing a new mom on the show.

As the series’ showrunner Tim Minear told TV Insider, Hewitt is all set to feature in the fifth season with a storyline about postpartum depression. "It’s an important issue that we’re interested in giving service to. It’s a story that we’re gonna tell a little bit as we go into the next season. We’re not just going to drop it," he said. "Jennifer Love Hewitt’s such an empathic performer. She’s just so great at expressing an experience for the audience …" Of course, we just hope that her real-life pregnancy isn’t quite so difficult.