Cameron Diaz had reached her breaking point. After working nonstop for 20 years, appearing in movies like There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels and Bad Teacher, the gorgeous A-lister officially retired from acting following her turn in 2014’s Annie.
“I know a lot of people won’t understand it,” she later said of ditching Hollywood, “but it’s so intense to work at that level and be that public... You’re filming for 12 hours a day for months on end, you have no time for anything else.”
Says an OK! insider: “Cameron was completely burned out. She was exhausted emotionally and physically.”
Hitting rock bottom was a blessing in disguise for the actress. The 48-year-old has confessed to pals that channeling her energy into life at home with her rocker husband, Benji Madden (they wed in 2015), and their 17-month-old daughter, Raddix, has been more fulfilling than any onscreen role.
“Cameron didn’t realize how desperately unhappy she was before,” says the insider. “She feels like she saved herself, and she has zero regrets about leaving acting behind. Her family means more to her than anything.”
The star has replaced long days on set with quality time at the $20.8 million Beverly Hills mansion she shares with Benji and Raddix. "Cameron's domestic side has really flourished," dishes the insider. “She gets up early, cooks breakfast for the family, cleans the house and spends the rest of the afternoon with Raddix.”
The insider says Diaz and 42-year-old Madden are so hands-on they don’t have nannies. “There’s no extra help because Cam wants to experience everything herself and Benji is right there beside her,” notes the insider. “They’re wonderful parents.”
Diaz’s transition from in-demand movie star to domestic goddess had a few hiccups along the way. “Retirement wasn’t easy at first, and Cam certainly had some setbacks,” shares the insider. “She was worried about getting bored, complacent and lazy.”
The insider says that’s when the Shrek star began to embrace cooking. “She took a few lessons and found she was really good at it. Whipping up a feast for loved ones is one of her favorite things to do.”
Like her famous pal Gwyneth Paltrow before her, Diaz has become a celebrity mogul — and she stands to rake in billions with her burgeoning lifestyle empire. (She regularly shares cooking videos with recipes on Instagram, launched a new organic wine line, Avaline, last July, and has written two bestselling wellness books.)
“She’s found a way to be home and creative at the same time,” dishes the insider, “and she’s got an impressively loyal following.”
"When Cameron met Benji, that was it,” spills the insider. “She knew she wanted a life with him. She told her handlers she needed a break and left Hollywood behind.”
“She kissed a lot of frogs,” says the insider. “But she finally found a guy that treated her right.”
She and Madden had some growing pains early on. “Cameron was very independent and Benji was used to doing things his way. She’s a clean freak and they clashed over Benji’s messiness,” says the insider, adding that the Mask star didn’t like that the musician had groupies who followed him and Joel.
“They had to work hard at establishing boundaries and finding better ways to communicate.”
If she had been spending countless hours on a film set, the romance might not have worked. “Quitting showbiz allowed her to really have time to devote to the ups and downs of a relationship,” explains the insider. “Cameron reorganized her priorities, and it saved her marriage.”
Putting in the effort paid off when the pair struggled to get pregnant. “Like many couples, it put a strain on their relationship,” says the insider, adding that they “tried IVF, but it didn’t work.” But Diaz and Madden didn’t let their emotions get the best of them.
“They approached it as a team and decided to use a surrogate,” continues the insider. “They’re so glad they did it because now they have a beautiful little girl.”
The spouses are even talking about baby No. 2. “They’d love to have another child, maybe a boy,” says the insider, noting they’ll likely use a surrogate again. “It worked out perfectly the last time.”
Diaz’s decision to risk it all paid off, big time. “Cam’s told pals she’s been to hell and back, but she’s never been happier,” says the insider. “She’s excited about what the future holds, and can’t wait to see what’s next.”