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What Happened to Kelly Carlson From "Nip/Tuck"? Why She Really Quit Acting

She's still in California, but no longer living in Los Angeles.

Created by Ryan Murphy, salacious FX drama Nip/Tuck ran for six seasons, following plastic surgeons Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). In addition to the doctors' controversial catchphrase, "Tell me what you don't like about yourself," fans of the series will also recognize Kelly Carlson, who had a memorable role as Kimber, Christian's on-again-off-again girlfriend. While Carlson's character met a tragic end, the actor herself stepped away from the spotlight after Nip/Tuck concluded in 2010. In recent years, Carlson spoke out on her decision to leave acting—and it's not all bad news. Read on to find out where she's been, and what's next for her career.

READ THIS NEXT: Former Child Star Reveals Why She Quit Acting Right After Hit Show.

She went live on Instagram back in 2020.


Carlson addressed her departure from Hollywood in a May 2020 Instagram Live, with fans using the opportunity to leave comments asking about her acting career.

"Are you still acting? And if not, why did you decide to give it up?" one fan asked, to which the actress responded, "I'm not acting right now."

Carlson explained that she doesn't have any disdain for acting, but that her choice to largely leave it behind had more to do with her location and the Navy career of her husband, Dan Stanchfield.

"Why am I not acting? Not for any reason, really. Just that we live far away," she said. "I need to be in L.A. and we're not for my husband's work, which is down—he's in the Navy, so we're way down in southern San Diego—and that's kind of it."

She confirmed it was her choice to leave acting.

kelly carlson in 2005
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Carlson clarified that she enjoyed her life in Los Angeles and her departure wasn't due to any negative experiences. "Nothing bad happened or anything like that," she said. "I loved it, loved my life up there."

The actor said that her husband, who is also a survival instructor, per his Instagram bio, has a business that requires them to be "out of the city."

"Now he's the star of the family, and I'm the manager wife," Carlson joked, adding that it was "just a decision, that's all."

"Dan is such a great guy, I'm not gonna say no," she added. "You make adjustments, and it's not that he asked me to leave, he didn't at all. It was like, I saw a lot of value in what he was doing, so I said, 'We have to go do it,' and so we moved."

She hasn't written off Hollywood entirely.

kelly carlson 2005
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Fans will be happy to learn that Carlson hasn't completely abandoned acting. "Maybe I'll go back one day, I don't know," she said in her Instagram Live. "I'm open, I'm kind of a free spirit. I kind of am, and I'm kind of not. But I'm always up for new experiences."

In fact, Carlson did have a part in the 2020 faith-based film The Reason, but that was her only acting role since a 2013 TV movie.

She's now a self-proclaimed "Navy wife," telling Fox News' Tammy Bruce in 2021 that she was eager to try something she hadn't done before. "I was really excited about being a military wife—completely different from anything in my life I've ever experienced and it's been so grounding and just really fun and completely a different world than I'm used to," Carlson said, per

She added clarifying details about a return to Hollywood during the Fox News interview, which was filmed almost a year after her Instagram Live. "It would have to be a really big deal to go back up there," Carlson said.

"I'm someone who follows what I want to do in my gut and nothing can stop me and so it's an easy choice for me to leave a lot of money or fame—to go do something that my heart really wants to do," she said in 2021. "And I think you have to be that kind of person because fame and money is really powerful and—don't get me wrong I love it, too—but it's not everything for me and I'm fulfilling other things in my life that I never learned to do before."

She also dished on a potential return of Nip/Tuck.

kelly carlson on nip/tuck
Warner Bros. Television Distribution

During her Instagram Live segment, Carlson discussed some of her thoughts about Nip/Tuck, sharing that she was upset that her character was killed off.

"Was I upset [Kimber] was killed off? I mean, of course, a little bit," she said. "But I also knew she needed somewhat of a dramatic departure." She noted that Kimber did come back in "dream form" at one point.

"You know in TV, if you don't see a body, they can always come back. Not that Ryan had any plans of returning at all," she said, noting that if Murphy did end up doing a reboot, she thinks Kimber should absolutely have a role.

"I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, and I'm sorry if it does… I think it would be a mistake not to ever bring Kimber back if they did that," Carlson said. "I do. Yeah, that's my ego a little bit. But I don't think Ryan would do that. So, if that makes you feel better. Too many people were invested in Kimber and Christian."

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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