They’re actors respected the world over: professionally trained, careers forged from a lifetime of stage and theatre work, lauded by their peers and loved by the critics.
Still, everyone likes to get paid occasionally, so even the most talented thesps can’t be blamed for slumming it in a rubbish blockbuster in exchange for a nice payday.
It can be addictive, however, and once they start cashing those cheques, the slum-job millionaires might find it hard to stop…
Known for: ‘Gandhi’, 'Schindler’s List’, 'House Of Sand And Fog’
Slummed it in: 'Bloodrayne’, 'Prince Of Persia’, 'The Love Guru’
Kingsley has mastered the art of making one movie for the studios, then one movie for himself – a healthy mix of respectable films by great filmmakers and terrible movies with big fat paycheques.
Let’s just hope Sir Ben was paid handsomely for the likes of Uwe Boll’s 'Bloodrayne’ – if his renumeration was inverse to how terrible the movie was, Kingsley would have been rewarded in solid gold ingots.
For an at a glance guide to this thesp’s greatest slum, however, we recommend juxtaposing the twin roles of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning epic and Guru Tugginmypudha in Mike Myer’s 'The Love Guru’, which was criminally overlooked at the Academy Awards.
Known for: 'Othello’, 'Hamlet’, 'Henry V’
Slummed it in: 'Underworld: Evolution’, 'The Riddle’, 'Angelina Ballerina: The Show Must Go On’
He’s one of the most celebrated English stage actors of all time, capable of reeling off reams of Shakespearean dialogue before he’s even had his breakfast. But Derek Jacobi’s house won’t heat itself, so his CV has to find room for the likes of woeful action-horror 'Underworld: Evolution’ in between the Bard’s finest work.
Such roles are few and far between, however, with Jacobi occasionally propping up his 'posh Brit’ TV work (a 'Sir’ here, a 'Baron’ there) with the odd animation voiceover or narration gig. Until 'Game of Thrones’ comes calling, we’re pretty sure Derek will be available for work.
Known for: 'Dead Ringers’, 'Damage’, 'Kafka’
Slummed it in: 'Dungeons & Dragons’, 'Eragon’, 'The Pink Panther 2’
Like a wiry Alan Rickman, with his trademark grin and cackle, Irons is yet another Brit seemingly destined to play villains and shady types, but he’s done so for some of Hollywood’s finest.
Unfortunately, this also puts Jezza into the 'rent-a-villain’ category when various franchises are looking for a baddie, and Irons can’t resist: hence his role as tyrant Profion in the dreaful 'Dungeons & Dragons’. Irons recently hit the sweet spot, however, when he landed the role of Alfred in 'Batman Vs Superman’ – a nice big paycheque for a few weeks’ work on a £150 million movie. Not too shabby, but plenty slummy.
Known for: 'Dangerous Liaisons’, 'Of Mice And Men’, 'Being John Malkovich’
Slummed it in: 'Jonah Hex’, 'Mutant Chronicles’, 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’
Like Irons, Malkovich found his unique, intense characteristics translated well into screen villainy, meaning the man they call 'Malkatraz’ has hammed it up in more than a few blockbuster bad guy roles. 'Jonah Hex’ would be the nadir of most people’s career but seeing Big John sink to that level really stang, as did his stint as an insane sorceror in dragon-based snoozer 'Eragon’.
Like many a respectable actor, Malkovich also yielded to the lure of Michael Bay and the 'Transformers’ franchise which can never be accused of being subtle – but hey, if it’s good enough for Jon Turturro, Frances McDormand and Stanley Tucci…
Known for: 'Jaws’, 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, 'Stand By Me’
Slummed it in: 'Piranha 3D’, 'Poseidon’, 'RED’
It looked like the star of two of Steven Spielberg’s best movies was ready to call it a day in the early 21st century, gracefully retiring with a string of critical and commercial hits under his belt. Then came a titanic payday courtesy of disastrous disaster movie 'Poseidon’.
Visiting journalist Devin Faraci interviewed Dreyfuss on set and asked him: “I understand that you retired from films in 2004. What brought you back?” Dreyfuss’ one-word response was devastating in its simplicity: “Money.” Faraci pressed on: “But what was it about 'Poseidon’ in particular that really got your interest?” Said Dreyfuss: “The money they offered.” No need for any witty comments, I think we’re about done here.
Known for: 'A Streetcar Named Desire’, 'Apocalypse Now’, 'The Godfather’
Slummed it in: 'The Island Of Dr Moreau’
The most respected actor in the business, Brando was nothing short of a God in Hollywood – which made his eventual transformation into a shuffling, muumuu-wearing loon all the more shocking.
As the titular villain in 'The Island Of Dr Moreau’, Brando took a big studio payment then proceeded to have his fun, rewriting (admittedly terrible) lines on the fly, refusing to wear trousers and insisting on bizarre requests like having a small dwarf appear in all his scenes.
Brando has history in slumming it, however: he considered 'Superman’ beneath him so wrangled a $3.7 million fee for 15 minutes of screen time.
Known for: 'Citizen Kane’, 'Touch Of Evil’, 'The Third Men’
Slummed it in: 'Transformers: The Movie’, 'The Enchanted Journey’
Welles is the classic slum-job case study. His first movie? 'Citizen Kane’. His last movie? 'Transformers: The Movie’. While some people of a certain age may claim the latter role is just as important as the former (Kane might have won him an Oscar-nomination, but Unicron could EAT PLANETS), there’s no denying just how sobering that statistic is: paycheque movies are beyond no one, not even the greats.
But did you also know that pre-Transformers, the magnificent Orson Welles also voiced a pigeon named Pippo in a Japanese 1984 anime called 'The Enchanted Journey’? Well, you do now.
Known for: 'The English Patient’, 'Schindler’s List’, 'The End Of The Affair’
Slummed it in: 'Clash Of The Titans’, 'Maid In Manhattan’, 'Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang’
RADA-trained luvvie Ralph – pronounced 'Rafe’, less you forget – is not above receiving big brown envelopes stuffed with cash if it means he can swan off and make another literary adaptation.
Look no further than 'Clash Of The Titans’ – where, as Hades, he gave a performance that made even Liam Neeson’s look nuanced – or cast your mind back to campy nonsense 'The Avengers’ (the British TV adaptation), which he made just two years after 'The English Patient’ swept the board at the Oscars. And while you’d never call the 'Harry Potter’ series 'slumming it’ per se, it did ensure Fiennes could remain up to the ankles in Shakespeare for a good long while.
Known for: 'The Godfather’, 'Dog Day Afternoon’, 'Scarface’
Slummed it in: 'Jack & Jill’, '88 Minutes’, 'Gigli’
'Jack & Jill’ was upsetting on a number of fundamental levels, but watching the star of 'Scarface’ rap his way through a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial (“You want creamy goodness, I’m your friend / say hello to my chocolate blend!”) was enough to bring a grown man to tears.
It’s a low point in a major slump for Pacino, who hasn’t had a critical hit since Christopher Nolan’s 'Insomnia’ in 2002 – on the other hand, the likes of Adam Sandler pay well and ask for little (not counting dignity, of course). Like 'Godfather’ stablemate Robert De Niro, Pacino needs to be getting more choosy in his old age, not less.
Known for: 'Lawrence Of Arabia’, 'The Last Emperor’, 'The Lion In Winter’
Slummed it in: 'Supergirl’, 'Phantoms’, 'King Ralph’
If slumming it in movies like 'Phantoms’ and 'King Ralph’ helped fund his hellraiser lifestyle, then we have no complaints about Peter O'Toole’s choice of movies – he was never less than the best thing in everything he did, no matter how awful the film.
See 'Supergirl’ for a perfect example of an actor trading up his credibility for a throwaway blockbuster role – Zaltar was never going to top T.E. Lawrence in terms of plaudits but O'Toole had a ball anyway.
As the great man said himself: “Acting is just being a man. Being human. Not forcing it. Some make it their entire life. Big mistake.”
Image credits: Paramount/Screen Gems/20th Century Fox/Warner Bros/New Line Cinema/Hasbro/Columbia Pictures/Rex