Do you know how much money you would need to pay me to be in a Star Wars film? Approximately zero dollars, and if you handed me a lightsaber to use, then I don’t even want to think about the dollar figure that I would pay for such an experience. There is no doubting that Star Wars is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Yet when George Lucas came out in 1977 with A New Hope, nobody could have seen this coming. Not only was it a cast of relatively unknown actors (like this small guy named Harrison Ford), but George Lucas himself had yet to have made anything impactful in Hollywood and it was a struggle to even get the first one off the ground.
Times are different in 2015 however, and there was no film that was filled with more anticipation than The Force Awakens. Opening on wide release on December 18th, the film became the fastest to surpass the $300 million domestically. This was certainly easier to see coming and you better believe that the new cast members did not get a percentage of the profits, but that didn’t mean they had a bad payday.
This is the official salary list for many of the new and familiar faces for The Force Awakens. You can imagine that the actors who can return for sequels will be sure to get a bump up for subsequent films. Also included is the cast figures from some of the original Star Wars films. Did you know that Chewbacca didn’t get as much as Luke Skywalker? Ludacris right?
If you haven’t seen Star Wars, then at least you know what you’re doing after this list. And if you have seen it, take a moment to reflect on their performances and their salaries and see if you feel they lived up to the cost.
10. John Boyega/Daisy Ridley
What are you supposed to do if you are an inexperienced actor in Hollywood? You need to hope that your agent can help land you a role in the biggest movie series of all time. Sure, Ridley and Boyega’s salary, which was estimated to be between $100,000-300,000 might not seem all that impressive, but keep in mind, THEY WERE IN STAR WARS. Talk about a jump start to any career when you can literally say you were in one of the most successful movies of all time. There is no doubt that both actors will find ways to increase their payday as the series continues to roll on, but $100,000 is still enough to let you sleep easy at night.
9. Adam Driver
When you look at how much an actor gets paid, one of the things that you need to keep in mind is what is some of their previous work. The people behind Star Wars must have known that Adam Driver, who has been outstanding in the television series Girls, was not going to come cheap. The producers put a cheque in front of him for mid-high six figures, which should be incentive enough to get anyone to be willing to pick up a lightsaber. They clearly got their money’s worth as Adam Driver was outstanding in his portrayal of Kylo Ren (even if his lightsaber still looked a little unusual!)
8. Oscar Isaac
Similar to Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac was well known in Hollywood prior to being cast in the biggest franchise of all time. Isaac’s resume included roles in Ex Machina, as well as Inside Llewyn Davis that helped earn him his payday of mid-high six figures. There is no set estimate for how much Isaac will earn when the next Star Wars comes to the big screen, but like anyone else on this list, you can expect his salary to only go up. It’s a lot harder for a movie studio to claim that they don’t have money when you know that the film you were in just made hundreds of millions.
7. Warwick Davis – Wicket The Ewok
When you think about the Ewoks, there are generally those Star Wars fans who loved them and those who hated them. Personally? I can get behind the Ewoks, even if I can understand why people find them annoying. The primary Ewok, Wicket, was portrayed by Warwick Davis for the film Return of the Jedi. While his salary was not huge, he stated “I was paid £60 a day for being able to live out my dream,” which is hardly a bad day of work. Combined with the fact that Davis was 11 years old and a huge fan of the originals, you can see why the role was all the more appealing. Plus, at 11, no money is going to equal the fact that you can say to your friends “yeah bro, so me and Skywalker were just chillin out, talkin ‘sabers…was pretty sweet.”
5. Peter Mayhew
While it was not reported how much Mayhew made this go around, you better hope it was more then what he made for the original Star Wars series! On top of being forced to wear a fur-lined suit that could not have been comfortable, Mayhew only earned $450 a week for A New Hope. Not to mention that Mayhew had to take time off of his regular work (in a hospital) so you could argue that being in the original series cost the actor money, at least at the time. On top of that, when some of his cast mates were making millions (staring at you, Hamill), Mayhew was forced to move back to his parents’ house at the age of 33. Let’s hope the producers recognized the actor’s efforts and properly rewarded him for The Force Awakens.
4. Alec Guinness
The fun thing about Alec Guinness is that unlike a lot of the original cast, he was not afraid to put George Lucas on blast for some of his dialogue. While he may have never totally gotten behind the Star Wars legacy, there was no doubt that he got up to a big payday. Guinness’ original contract showed that he received 2 and ¼ percentage points of “Star Wars’ total profits” which ended up being a pretty smart move. It was estimated that Guinness had raked in more then £56 million for his role in the iconic series. This didn’t stop Guinness from acting, but I’m sure it helped take the stress out of everyday financial woes.
3. Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill is an outstanding actor, whose favorite role for me may be when he voices The Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series. Shockingly, a lot of people’s other favorite role of his is Star Wars. There was no doubting the appeal of brining back Skywalker, so Luke made sure the studio paid for his services. While no dollar figure surfaced, it was reported that he earned somewhere in the the low seven figures for The Force Awakens, with the possibility of this increasing with subsequent appearances. When Hamill first donned the character for A New Hope, he received $650,000. Shrewdly, Hamill also received “¼ of a percent of the movie’s total profit, as well as revenue on re-releases, TV screenings and more,” which may have worked out okay for him.
2. Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher may be known for her iconic gold bikini, and even if she might not be rocking it this go around, that didn’t stop fans from getting excited. Fisher, along with Ford and Hamill were the three primary cast members returning and as a result, she got a nice payday for her efforts. With what is envisioned to be a similar contract with Hamill, it was reported that Carrie Fisher took home somewhere in the low seven figures for her revamped version of of Princess Leia. Unlike Hamill, Fisher wasn’t intelligent enough to secure likeness rights to her character back when the original films came out, which cost her a pretty penny. At least she’s making up for it with this payday!
1. Harrison Ford
There is no doubting that Harrison Ford is one of the premier actors in Hollywood. When he got included in the original cast list, people (very reasonably) got excited. Who also got excited would have been Harrison’s bank account as he pulled in an estimated $10-20 million in his appearance in the latest saga. This was not only an impressive figure, but was also the highest dollar amount out of any of the main cast. I won’t go into the film, so you won’t know if he “earns” the paycheque from reading this, but you better believe that the original cast is a huge reason for the enjoyment of The Force Awakens. This was only slightly more than the $10,000 that he earned for the original role of Han Solo.