Former Star Wars Actors Who Are Surprisingly Poor

It's no exaggeration to call Star Wars one of the hugest franchises of all time. 40 years, 11 films, $10 billion at the worldwide box office, per Statista, and countless spinoffs, live-action TV shows, animated shows, video games, toys, and enough merchandise to practically fill an entire galaxy far, far away (or nearby). According to Business Insider, by 2012 Star Wars had earned over $20 billion in merchandise, and that was before the new trilogy of Episodes 7 – 9. 

For an IP that earns so much money, it's reasonable to assume that some of those billions would make their way down to the cast. After all, they play the characters who act as the faces of the franchise, and they're the reason that moviegoers care about the Star Wars saga. And to be fair, for most cast members this is precisely the case. Franchise mainstays like Mark Hamill are quite comfortable, financially speaking, at an estimated $18 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. Of course, Hamill and other actors have other projects going on, such as Adam Driver (worth $10 million), Ian McDiarmid (also $10 million), and prequel veterans like Ewan McGregor ($25 million). But even less famous, smaller character actors have made out quite well, include Ray Parks as Darth Maul ($5 million), Anthony Daniels as C3PO ($8 million), and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian ($9 million).

Out of the entirety of the collective Star Wars cast, though, two actors haven't fared as well, both Vader-related. 

Darth Vader got paid nothing for Return of the Jedi

David Prowse is not a name that many people outside of dedicated Star Wars fandom would recognize. James Earl Jones was the booming, resonant, instantly recognizable voice of Darth Vader, but what of the man in the suit? That honor belonged to David Prowse, an English-born bodybuilder who, according to The Telegraph, came from a working class family without much money. He started bodybuilding at age 15, worked as a physical fitness consultant to Harrod's department store for 15 years, acted in some commercials, and was eventually cast in the role of Darth Vader's physical actor. However, he states that it wasn't until he hit his mid-60's that he stopped worrying about money, largely thanks to attending conventions and selling signed Vader merchandise from his now-defunct website.

The reason for his concern? Apparently playing Vader in a suit wasn't too lucrative, at least when it came to Return of the Jedi. As reported in The Atlantic, Prowse signed a Net Profit Payout agreement for the film, which isn't too uncommon for lesser known actors. This means that as soon as Return of the Jedi turns a profit, Prowse will see some return. But despite grossing $475 million on a $32 million budget, Return of the Jedi has not made the studio any profit, due to distribution fees. And so, no money has made its way to Prowse.

Reason enough to go on a Dark Side lightsaber rampage, indeed.

Jake Lloyd hated Star Wars and got arrested

$25,000. According to Celebrity Net Worth, this is how much Jake Lloyd, the guy who played young Anakin Skywalker in 1999's The Phantom Menace, is currently worth. If that number seems shockingly low for playing kid Vader, well, it happened at a heavy price. After Episode 1 was released, critics and fans massacred the movies. Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks, nearly killed himself, as the BBC states. Jake Lloyd, who was 10 at the time, suffered a tremendous amount of bullying and destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia. Director Ron Howard defended him from critics who called him "Mannequin Skywalker," as reported in Vulture, but in the end, Lloyd gave up on acting altogether.

In 2015 Lloyd was arrested at the end of a high-speed car chase reaching over 100 miles per hour, as Dork Side of the Force recounts. He was transferred to a psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a condition that his mother states had gone un-diagnosed and un-medicated for years. Even when this happened, Lloyd was still the subject of ridicule, receiving online comments such as, "too much metaclorian [sic] in blood, bad for the brain," and, "someone probably showed him Phantom Menace," as reported by the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services

Lloyd's case is one not only of lost money, but the crippling power of cruelty, especially towards the young. While Star Wars has brought light to the lives of countless fans, there is always a downside, and dark side, to fame.