10 Blatant Paycheck Movie Roles (That Were AWESOME)

They took it for the money, but they still tried.

Street Fighter Raul Julia

99% of actors take roles for one reason - the money. The overwhelming majority of actors are ultimately jobbing performers who don't have the luxury to turn down lucrative, well-paying roles for the sake of artistic integrity.

Then again, some actors are much better than others at hiding how blatantly they took a part for the cold, hard cash, and in these 10 movie roles, it couldn't have been much more obvious.

But what singles these performances out is the fact that they're the furthest thing imaginable from a lazy, tired cash-in, where the actor is simply exploiting their own image for a quick buck.

Compare them to say, Jennifer Lawrence in the later X-Men movies or Bruce Willis in almost everything he's made over the last decade, and these actors were at least gamely committing themselves fully to these roles, no matter that it was an obvious means to a financial end.

To paraphrase Michael Caine when he talked about starring in Jaws IV: The Revenge for the money, these actors may not have seen the movies they starred in, but they sure have seen the houses that they paid for...

10. Alec Guinness - Star Wars

Street Fighter Raul Julia

We begin with perhaps the textbook example of a paycheck role, because despite ultimately receiving a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his iconic performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope, screen legend Alec Guinness was only in it for the moolah.

Guinness was the only true name actor among the film's cast, and so was able to negotiate a handsome salary for himself, receiving $150,000 - double the studio's original offer - and 2% of George Lucas' box office residuals.

Guinness had no love for the material, though, calling it "fairy-tale rubbish" and referring to the dialogue as "pretty ropey."

Though Guinness expressed regret at taking the part during shooting, he later referred to it as a "vivid experience," no doubt aided by the film's box office success and hefty financial rewards Guinness continued to receive from it for the rest of his life.

As a goodwill gesture, Lucas even upped his claim on his own residuals to 2.25%, and to date it's estimated that Guinness' estate has earned roughly $100 million in royalties from the role.

Lifelong riches and an Oscar nomination for a bunch of space wizard nonsense, then? Not bad.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.