CATEGORIES Features

Big Stars in Small PartsWarner Bros.

If you're surprised to see Will Smith pop up in this weekend's release "Winter's Tale," you're probably not alone.

The international megastar has been all but invisible in the movie's marketing. Then again, his part is small; it's being described as an extended cameo. And even though the Warner Bros. film is a studio-released fantasy/romance epic with an eight-figure budget, Smith reportedly was paid union scale or slightly higher for his appearance.

This doesn't mean that the "After Earth" star's career as an A-list leading man is over, but isn't it rare for a star as big as Smith to accept a minor supporting role at a cut-rate price? Maybe not as rare as you'd think. There are a number of reasons big actors take on small roles -- to stretch their acting muscles outside of the kind of roles they're famous for, to display their versatility, or as a labor of love. Or as a favor to a friend, which is what this case looks like. Here, the friend is Akiva Goldsman, who wrote Smith's hits "I, Robot" and "I Am Legend," and who, in making his directing debut with "Winter's Tale," needed to call in favors from top stars he'd worked with before in order to keep costs down.

Here are some other examples of your favorite big-name stars taking day jobs in minor roles, and why they did it.