"I actually didn't even think that it would be that long," he says of his time out of the spotlight.
With the gnarly horror film "Hunter Hunter" out this week and six other projects on the horizon, Nick Stahl's is in the midst of a career comeback.
"I stopped acting for about five years, and I just organically kind of came back to it when the time was right" Stahl told TooFab ahead of the twisted film's release.
"It wasn't a plan, necessarily," the 41-year-old actor added. "I actually didn't even think that it would be that long, but yeah I ended up moving back to Los Angeles and kind of just started back at it."
Stahl got his start as a child actor opposite Mel Gibson in "The Man Without a Face," before films like '90s teen horror "Disturbing Behavior," the critically-acclaimed "In the Bedroom," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "Sin City" and the cult favorite Showtime series "Carnivàle."
But from 2012-2013, he started making headlines for his personal life and, following the release of "Away From Here" in 2014, retreated from the public eye. After spending a few years in his home state of Texas, he returned to Hollywood and began acting again in 2019.
"I've been really fortunate the last couple of years, because I've been able to be part of some cool things," he said, before talking about how it has been for him to re-enter the business after taking time for himself.
"Easier than it probably is for other people, because I was just fortunate enough when I was young to do a bunch of films for a long period of time," he explained.
"There's so much rejection in the acting field, just in general. Most of what you audition for, what you're trying to get, it doesn't happen, and you get very used to that" he continued. "I've got a lot of actor friends who haven't done very much and I've had the same amount of rejection, but the difference is something like 'Hunter Hunter' will come along and, based on movies that I did a long time ago, it'll just be offered to me."
"It's cool, man, I'm very grateful for all of these opportunities I've had as a kid because they help me to this day," he added.
In "Hunter Hunter," a family living off the grid believes a wolf has been tampering with their traps. When the father (Devon Sawa) goes off to investigate, his wife and daughter find a severely injured man (Stahl) in the woods, leading to mystery and serious bloodshed.
"It was a solid script, very good story, I liked that it was a horror movie that didn't try to scare you too quick," Stahl said of what attracted him to the project. "You read a lot of things that want to get to the gruesome or the jump scares right away, without investing in the characters first. [Writer/Direcrtor Shawn Linden] did a great job not doing that. The role was [also] really dark and challenging and trying to imagine this sadistic mindset was fun."
"Most things you read, just to be honest, are kind of middle of the road," he added. "And then occasionally you'll read something that stands out, that is a little more exceptional and that's what I found with this thing."
While this is the first project he and Sawa -- both former teen idols who grew into more mature roles in the public eye -- have been in together, they've known each other for years.
"I had been crossing paths with Devon since, I don't know, age 15 or something in auditions," he explained. "It's equally as cool to see his work in the movie and how much he's matured as an actor, and how great he was in it. I was just very impressed with him and really happy he's still at it."
"He's got so much to offer the film world. It's a weird little club you're in as child actors, right?" said Stahl. "It's a difficult thing to go from a kid and age and to do it relatively gracefully and to transition into adult roles, so anytime I see that in a friend, I'm rooting for it. He's just great in the movie."
Though they're both far removed from those child actor and teen idol roles, the labels never really go away. It's something Stahl has learned to live with.
"Nothing you can do about that, unfortunately. It's cool man. I think it's a cool thing," he explained. "I mean there's a lot of child actors where that was their niche ... and then they come up against more obstacles as they get older and it doesn't always pan out."
"I feel really fortunate to be part of doing what I love to do, and being part of this business and for Devon as well," he added. "So, I don't mind the throwbacks."
"Hunter Hunter" is available in theaters, on demand and digital on December 18, 2020.