10 Actors Who Left Their Best-Known Roles Over Pay


Neve Campbell will not be reprising her role as Sidney Prescott in the sixth installment of the Scream franchise. The news has fans worried, considering the character is so integral to the franchise, but Campbell isn’t the first actor to leave their major role (or one of them).

Usually, it comes down to money, as is the case with Campbell and Scream. However, it’s not always a financial concern that leads a movie or TV star to walk away from their on-screen persona. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s easy to respect someone for knowing their own worth.


10/10 Neve Campbell In Scream 6

Time will tell what will happen when it comes to Scream 7, but for now, franchise lead Neve Campbell will not be reprising her role as Sidney Prescott in Scream 6. Gale will be involved, as will Scream 4‘s Kirby Reed, but the studio’s failure to realize Campbell’s importance (even with the successfully canonized new cast) puts the newly-renewed franchise in jeopardy.

Sidney is Scream, full stop. Her personality, specifically, is utterly integral. Scream is the most personal slasher franchise. Sidney is, in one way or the other, the target. And Campbell has elevated each of the five released installments. If she wasn’t offered enough money, as Deadline reports, it’s not surprising she walked away. Campbell knows her worth, as should Paramount Pictures.

9/10 Bruce Willis In The Expendables 3

Back in 2013, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Bruce Willis was “offered $3 million for four days of work” as CIA agent Mr. Church on The Expendables 3. After a brief cameo in the first film, Willis’ Church had an expanded role in the third act of the series’ apex: The Expendables 2. Willis wanted $1 million per day, but Sylvester Stallone and crew held firm at $3 million total.

Stallone even threw shade on Twitter with an ecstatic delivery of the news, writing in all caps that Willis was out and had been replaced by Harrison Ford. He then went a step further, tweeting (again in all caps) “Greedy and lazy…a sure formula for career failure.” The now-retired Willis was diagnosed two years after The Expendables 3, so hopefully, that being made public has allowed the two action legends to patch things up.

8/10 Rob Lowe On The West Wing

The West Wings deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn stands alongside Parks & Recreation‘s Chris Traeger as one of Rob Lowe’s best roles to date. However, the character’s importance diminished in each episode’s narrative as the series progressed, and Lowe got frustrated. At least, that’s his side of the story (though, to back him up, Sorkin clearly wrote Seaborn as The West Wing‘s main protagonist throughout the first season).

Entertainment Weekly posted a speculative piece shortly after Lowe announced his exit. The character’s diminished role is a valid reason, but there’s more reason to believe it was about the oldest reason of all: money. Lowe wanted a raise like the vast majority of the show’s other main stars, yet he was denied. Tough, for a character who was initially the audience’s way into the West Wing.

7/10 Terrence Howard In Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. was the real sell of Iron Man and that was apparent from the moment the trailer dropped. There just wasn’t much room for what Terrence Howard wanted, which was essentially to be of comparable importance. Down the line, Rhodey/War Machine became an important MCU character, but only to an extent, and never to the level of relevance that Howard apparently wanted for him.

It also came down to money. Howard has been vocal about how his rate would have stayed about the same for sequels while Downey’s paycheck skyrocketed, and considering the movies are called Iron Man, this is logical. But it still wasn’t what Howard envisioned, and he jumped ship after just the first MCU installment. Fortunately, most fans agree Don Cheadle is even better as his replacement.

6/10 Robert Duvall In The Godfather Part III

Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen, the Corleone family’s consigliere, was a major part of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. However, he’s absent from The Godfather Part II (and the superior reworked version: The Godfather Coda). The answer lies in finance, and what Duvall wanted was perfectly reasonable.

In a wide-scoped interview, Duvall told CBS News that he would “work easily if they paid Pacino twice what they paid me, that’s fine.” A fair request from an actor of Duvall’s caliber, but that’s not what ended up happening. In fact, Duvall recounted that the studio instead gave Pacino “three or four times” as much.

5/10 Hilary Duff In The Lizzie McGuire Movie

The Lizzie McGuire Movie ended up serving as a series finale of sorts, but it wasn’t intended to. The Lizzie McGuire series ran for two successful seasons on Disney Channel, and the movie did comparably well on the big screen. However, tensions brewed between star Hilary Duff and Disney (via Los Angeles Times), resulting in the cancelation not just of the series but of a theatrical sequel as well.

Back in 2019, with the rise in popularity of Disney+, it was announced that the company had plans to continue the series. However, even with a couple of episodes filmed, nothing came of the series. Duff told Cosmopolitan the series skewed pretty dark, starting off with McGuire’s husband cheating on her.

4/10 Grace Park On Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii Five-0, a reboot of a longtime police procedural, lasted for a whopping 10 seasons. With that being said, Officer Kono Kalakaua was only around for seven of them. Kalakaua’s exit is explained away as having joined a sex trafficking task force, but the real reason for her departure was behind the scenes.

In reality, Kalakaua performer Grace Park left the show in June 2017, and the reason was a salary dispute (per CNBC). She wanted equal pay with her male co-stars (Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan), both of whom essentially had the same amount of screen time as Park. CBS refused to pay a human being what she was owed, and Park said enough.

3/10 Daniel Dae Kim On Hawaii Five-0

Like Park, Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim left the series in 2017. Dae Kim elaborated on his reasoning during an interview with Vulture in 2021. Apparently, his pay was already significantly lower than what he was receiving to star on Lost, and there were never any efforts made to get him back to what he was already earning, much less the salary increase he deserved.

Dae Kim also mentioned that his exit wasn’t fully supported by his co-stars. Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly was a fan favorite, but Dae Kim hasn’t missed a beat, starring in 2021’s Raya and the Last Dragon.

2/10 Hugo Weaving In Captain America: The First Avenger

The Red Skull did return to the MCU after Captain America: The First Avenger, but his appearance was one of CGI, not of prosthetics. The latter may have been a factor in why original Skull actor Hugo Weaving left the role after the first go-round, as the extensive makeup couldn’t have been anything but objectively uncomfortable. Furthermore, he mentioned in an interview with TimeOut that future contracts we much less lucrative than the one he got for The First Avenger.

It’s also not the most interesting role for an actor of Weaving’s caliber to chew on. The bland, officious villainy of Mr. Smith was the right level of antagonism for Weaving, but Red Skull is more straightforward. He’s not a sinister computer program acutely aware of his purpose, but rather just a particularly ambitious evil Nazi. There wasn’t much character work to be done with the villain, so it’s logical that Weaving wouldn’t return for subsequent installments where his character would naturally be less utilized (e.g. Avengers: Infinity War).

1/10 Suzanne Somers On Three’s Company

Season 4 of Three’s Company saw a big addition to the central trio of Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers, and John Ritter: The Andy Griffith Show‘s Don Knotts. Unfortunately, the following season saw a major cast change in the opposite direction when Somers departed. According to MBC, Somers wanted a salary comparable to that of her male co-star.

It’s a problem that persists in the film industry (and many others) to this day. At first, Somers’ role was severely diminished to the point of pointless cameos. However, the showrunners went a step further in Season 6 and excised Somers’ Chrissy Snow from the show altogether and replaced her with Chrissy’s cousin, Cindy.

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