Once an actor reaches the height of their popularity, they tend to get into the realm of demands about everything, from salary to the food served on set. It is not often that an actor hits that elite plateau and falls back down to the bottom. This can run up their cost tremendously, even if they are only on screen for one short scene, in a cameo appearance.
Unless a big actor themselves chooses to work for less money, their salary is going to be ridiculous, even for small roles. But since film studios are not required to publish their salary data to the general public, finding out what actors are being paid is getting tougher and tougher.
We did, however, find 20 actors who were paid a ton to play a very small role in a film. If we had more data, this would be a much longer list.
20 Michael Biehn, Alien 3 ($100,000+)
After casting for the third Alien movie, one name did not make the cut after he was killed off in the previous film. That man was Michael Biehn, who was actually going to become the protagonist of the movies, replacing Sigourney Weaver, until the writers decided to continue with her instead, writing him off in the opening for Alien 3 through a picture.
However, he heard they were using his likeness in the film that they did not cast him for so he refused to allow them to use it without compensation. The legend is that he wound up getting six figures for never doing a single day of work on the film.
19 Mark Wahlberg, All The Money In The World ($1.5 Million)
After filming had concluded on All The Money In The World, the director and the editors had some work to do. While trying to put together the film, they realized that they needed to do a couple of reshoots involving the main cast.
Mark Wahlberg ended up earning $1.5 million for a few reshoots while the rest of his cast brought in just about nothing.
18 Mark Hamill, Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($1 Million)
By now, you should have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or at least figured out the shocker at the end of the film. If not, you need to get caught up like yesterday.
Throughout the film, it is teased that he'l appear, but in the final scene of the film we see a quick shot of Luke Skywalker, reprised by Mark Hamil, which lasts about 60 seconds. That one shot earned up to $1 million. Not too shabby for a humble Jedi.
17 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin ($25 Million)
A nothing role does not mean the actor was only on-screen for a few minutes, it has more to do with whether or not the film could have done without it and for Batman & Robin, they could have done without the use of Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
However, because of how big of a star he was back then, signing him meant they had to shell out $25 million, and it was such a waste of money, it was almost a crime that he got paid so much for such a horrible movie.
16 Johnny Depp, Into The Woods ($1 Million)
At some point, Disney should have realized that they had enough star power for Into the Woods and the more they added would just be plain overkill. Yet they still brought in Johnny Depp to play the Big Bad Wolf in one of his smallest roles ever.
Luckily for Disney, however, he did not demand his usual $20-25 million asking price and negotiated a small fee of $1 million to take on the role, which was all but useless in the film. It actually made the film creepier than anyone had planned.
15 Laurence Olivier, Clash Of The Titans ($300,000)
If you are filming Clash of the Titans, you cannot cast a mediocre actor to play Zeus. You have to go big or go home on that part and Director Desmond Davis went big, casting Sir Laurence Olivier to play Zeus.
However, as big of a star as he is, the role was only limited to a few parts in the film and ended up taking him just a few days to film. They still paid him $300,000 in 1981, which is about $700,000 if you adjust for inflation.
14 Jennifer Aniston, Horrible Bosses ($6.6 Million)
Compared to the rest of the cast of the surprising 2011 comedy Horrible Bosses, Jennifer Aniston earned more per line than anyone else, and it was not even close. She barely had 900 total lines of dialogue, compared to the others who all had anywhere from 2,300 to 3,400 lines.
So imagine how huge that gap in pay is when she is bringing in $6.6 million for doing almost a third less work than the others. That is not a bad deal for Jen, who also got to remind us that she is still one of the hottest women alive.
13 Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross ($250,000)
Important? Yes. In fact, one could argue that Alec Baldwin's role in Glengarry Glen Ross is one of the greatest performances ever in film that lasted only a few minutes & was only one scene.
Back in 1992, he ended up bringing in $250,000 for the scene that took him only a couple of days, if not less, to finish.
12 Charlie Sheen, Scary Movie 5 ($250,000)
After reading stories like these, it is very easy to understand how Charlie Sheen wound up having a massive problems mixed in with several other domestic issues involving girlfriends of his.
But what else can you expect from a man that is paid $250,000 for barely a day of work? He literally could have taken a lunch break to film his scene in Scary Movie 5 and he still would have racked in a ton of cash.
11 Angelina Jolie, Beowulf ($8 Million)
There is no actress with a bigger appeal globally than Angelina Jolie, who has grown into one of the highest paid female actresses in the world. She even got a nice paycheck for lending her voice for the live-action adaptation of the classic epic, Beowulf.
Her $8 million salary ranks as one of the best paydays ever shelled out for a voice and some motion-capture work, especially compared to her on-screen time,
10 Sean Connery, Robin Hood ($250,000)
The minimum any star seems to make when doing a small role for a feature film is $250,000, at least that was the case 25 years ago. Today, it could be 10 times that amount.
For Sean Connery, and his two minutes of screen-time for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, that going rate in 1992 was $250,000. He only worked two days and walked away with two times what an average doctor makes in a year.
9 Harrison Ford, K-19: The Widowmaker ($25 Million)
Although he was the star of the film, Harrison Ford did not care to spend a lot of time filming K-19: The Widowmaker. His time on set lasted just 20 days and earned him over $1 million per day, just to star in a horrible film that remains one of his worst ever.
Besides that $25 million payday, Ford was also set to earn 20% of the film's profits, which ended up being a very lousy $65.7 million total box office pull, worldwide.
8 Jesse Eisenberg, Camp Hell ($3,000 From Salary, $3,000,000 In Damages)
Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment tried to capitalize on the fact that Jesse Eisenberg was in their movie by trying to portray him as a main character to fool audiences into seeing the film. However, he basically did the work as a favor to some friends and was only in about 5 minutes of the film.
He earned $3,000 for doing a favor and is now involved in a lawsuit to sue them over the use of his likeness to promote the film. He could get $3 million in damages over it, which is larger than the film's budget.
7 Robert Downey, Spider-Man: Homecoming ($10 Million)
Long before we knew that the MCU was going to be the biggest thing to happen to filmmaking since the invention of colorized film, Robert Downey Jr. was making $500,000 for the role of Iron Man.
Nowadays, RDJ commands a huge salary and that led to his big payday from just doing nine minutes of work in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He earned $10 million, or just about $1 million per minute on-screen.
6 Johnny Depp, Alice In Wonderland ($45 Million)
After spending all afternoon reviewing the script for Alice in Wonderland, we have come up with 661 words of dialogue spoken by Johnny Depp's character in the film, the Mad Hatter. Which means he earned about $67,000 per word spoken in the film after accounting for his salary of $45 million.
It was pretty obvious Disney was trying to exploit his name for the film because they paid him almost $70 million to return in a bigger role, in a sequel that turned out to be a massive bust.
5 Julia Roberts, Valentine's Day ($3 Million)
To understand why Julia Roberts is on our list, we have to break down her role in the star-studded film, Valentine's Day.
She starred in one scene that was broken up throughout the course of the film to make it feel like more time was spent with her. But it was only six total minutes of screen-time. That means that for every minute she is shown, she just earned $500,000.
4 Marlon Brando, Superman ($19 Million)
When it comes to acting, Marlon Brando is one of the greatest actors of all time not only because of his amazing talents but he was the first movie star to discover the technique of method acting, as well as using various other forms of acting that no one had ever seen before.
This turned him into a very difficult person to work with by 1978, when he played Jor-El in Superman. He signed for $3.7 million and 11.75% of the film's profits, even though he was only there for 12 days and appeared nearly 12 minutes on screen. He ended up making $19 million, or closer to $50 million in today's economy.
3 Vin Diesel, Guardians Of The Galaxy ($54 Million)
How does Vin Diesel command such a large amount of money to portray the one character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has only one line which he uses on repeat, like a broken record that skips back to the same line in the song?
No one knows for sure how much he made, but the number that has kept making it around is $54 million for all his appearances combined. Since Disney does not reveal salary data, and the cast has not confirmed it, we have to hope that this number is inflated, or wrong.
2 Ving Rhames, MI: Ghost Protocol ($7.7 Million)
Is Ving Rhames a good actor? Yes he is. He is one of the most underrated talents in the industry and even has an Academy Award to prove it. So as his popularity has risen throughout the years, so did his value, and that equates to a bigger salary demand.
Apparently, he had a contract deal that guaranteed him at least $7.7 million, minimum, for any film appearance regardless of screen time. So his quick cameo appearance in Ghost Protocol ended up earning him a massive paycheck.
1 Benicio Del Toro, American Gangster ($5 Million)
That is not a misprint. We did not accidentally write down the wrong movie. Benicio del Toro was the original Det. Richard Roberts opposite Denzel Washington in American Gangster.
However, Universal ended up firing the original director and scrapping the film, only to pick it up and do it a later time. Luckily for Benicio del Toro, he had a clause in his contract that paid him $5 million if the film gets canned. So he made $5 million for doing absolutely no work.
Sources: whatculture.com, imdb.com, usatoday.com, looper.com