• Entertainment - Movies - Hollywood
  • Updated: April 12, 2023

Seven Hollywood Stars Who Got Paid for Movies They Weren’t In

Actors are some of the most well-compensated members of society, or at least those who make it to the big stage, in this case,  Hollywood.

And whether or not they feature in the end product, all actors who work on Screen Actors Guild films (which is pretty much everyone in Hollywood) are paid. 

Many top-tier actors get paid even if they don't work because of pay-or-play contracts. 

However, there are several reasons why actors do not appear in movies for which they have been paid. 

Some are cut from the films, some get dismissed before the director has even called action, and some, perplexingly, are never involved in the production at all.

We will look at seven of these Hollywood movie stars who got paid for movies they weren't in. 


1. Kevin Spacey, All The Money In The World

Fantastic Beasts was not the first movie to fire an actor due to issues off the set, but few films have gone as far as All the Money in the World in removing a star from the big screen. 

When fellow actor Anthony Rapp brought sexual assault charges against star Kevin Spacey, the movie was in the final stages of post-production.

Recognizing that this may spell the end of his project, director Ridley Scott acted quickly, securing an additional $10 million in funding and hiring Christopher Plummer to replace Spacey as wealthy oil magnate J. Paul Getty. 

They shot an extra 400 shots in two locations over nine days, and Scott relied heavily on digital and practical effects teams to help merge the new actor into the current picture. 

Because Spacey had completed his work on the project and met his contract, both actors were paid even though only one appeared in the final movie.


2. Harrison Ford, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

There isn't a single adult or child in the developed world who isn't familiar with Steven Spielberg's family-friendly extraterrestrial film E.T. 

However, at the time of its production, the filmmaker was more recognized for more adult-oriented films like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

It makes it obvious that he wanted to incorporate some of what he learned from previous films into this, and while topic similarities with Close Encounters are simple to draw, E.T. has little connection to Indiana Jones.

Nonetheless, Spielberg's cinematic comfort food in this flick was Harrison Ford himself. 

The filmmaker cast Ford as an austere school administrator who reprimands young protagonist Elliott (Henry Thomas) in his office. 

This appearance was originally planned to be an Easter egg for fans, shot over Ford's shoulder and in bad lighting, but it didn't make it into the film at all.

Spielberg, a famously unsentimental editor, didn't think the moment contributed anything to the picture and left it on the cutting room floor. 

While the exact amount Ford was paid is unknown, given that he had recently had a stretch that included roles in Raiders, The Empire Strikes Back, and Blade Runner, it couldn't have been little change.


3. Eric Stoltz, Back To The Future

Back to the Future is one of the most influential time travel sci-fi films of the twentieth century, and its interpretation of time travel has become the standard for the single, mutable timeline, in which changes in the past affect changes in the future. 

As a result, Back to the Future explores the possibility that if we went back in time and changed things, we may accidentally erase ourselves. 

Unfortunately for Eric Stoltz, his approach to Robert Zemeckis' screenplay led to his removal from production.

Stoltz, who was originally cast as Marty McFly, added a sense of sorrow and darkness to the role, portraying it as a tragedy rather than the family-friendly comic stylings Zemeckis had in mind. 

Zemeckis chose to remove Stoltz six weeks into filming after receiving no laughs from the dailies and fearing that this casting decision would sink the entire film, costing the studio two actors' salaries and adding millions of dollars to the budget. 

But then Michael J Fox took over as McFly, the rest, as they say, is history, or the future, or whatever. LOL. 

4. Shailene Woodley, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield was the world's primary web swinger before Tom Holland donned the red spandex in a film series that began with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and finished with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just two years later. 

Garfield's fifteen minutes of Spider-Man fame have become fonder in subsequent years, while some of the series' stars didn't even get fifteen seconds!

Shailene Woodley, widely known for her role in the Divergent series, agreed to portray Mary-Jane Watson in the second Amazing Spider-Man film, but her feet hardly hit the ground before she was swept out the door. 

Marc Webb shot three sequences with MJ, aiming for her to be a small presence and secondary romantic interest for Garfield's Peter Parker.

But, in the end, he opted to leave her scenes on the editing room floor to streamline an already 142-minute movie. 

Even though her time on set was brief and the audience never saw the actor on film, Woodley was paid for her time and efforts.


5. Bob Hoskins, The Untouchables

The Untouchables, a film about the crew who brought down Al Capone, included four of the twentieth century's best actors: Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, and Andy Garcia. 

The film is regarded as one of the greatest crime films set during the Prohibition era.

While the entire ensemble is flawless, De Niro's Al Capone is a standout, with the experienced gangster actor effortlessly capturing both Capone's body and voice. 

Though De Niro was the original option for the character, the actor was in great demand, so De Palma hedged his chances by having English actor Bob Hoskins promise to fill in if De Niro couldn't. 

Hoskins had no idea De Niro had taken the job until payment for $200,000 arrived in the mail with a letter stating, "Thanks for your time." Brian, love."


6. Johnny Depp, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts series, debuted in 2022, although most of the series' charm had already faded. 

The screenplay was sloppy, the film felt redundant, and it was marred by various public conflicts, including Potterverse creator and Fantastic Beasts screenwriter JK Rowling's continuing feud with some members of the trans community. 

Few incidents, however, were as significant as Amber Heard's domestic violence charges against Johnny Depp (who played antagonist Gellert Grindelwald in the first two Fantastic Beasts films) and the ensuing libel action that he lost against UK tabloid newspaper The Sun.

Following the conclusion of the court case, in which the judge concluded that 12 of the 14 domestic abuse charges were true, Fantastic Beasts studio Warner Bros. severed relations with Depp and recruited Mads Mikkelsen to replace him. 

Fortunately for Depp, he had only recorded one scene for The Secrets of Dumbledore; unfortunately for Warner, he had a pay-or-play contract that guaranteed him his full payment for the film—an eye-watering $16 million.


7. Tobey Maguire, Life Of Pi

It's not often that you're kicked out of a film for being too well-known, but that's exactly what happened to Tobey Maguire in Life of Pi. 

In Ang Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel, Pi (Suraj Sharma) is abandoned on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with only a tiger called Richard Parker for companionship. 

The narrative is narrated in the film by an adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) to a fictionalized version of the author known only as The Writer.

Tobey Maguire was originally cast as the fictitious Martel, but after production began, Lee decided Maguire wasn't a good match for the role and replaced him with the significantly less recognized Rafe Spall. 

It's not surprising that Lee altered his mind to "be consistent with other casting choices made for the film" because the majority of the actors, except Gérard Depardieu's Cook, were unfamiliar to Western audiences.

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