Star Wars turns 40 years old on May 25th. That’s the date in 1977 when the original movie was released. Since that groundbreaking 1977 film, actors and actresses have come and gone. A few of the oldies but goodies from the original 1977 film are still around, and there are some bright and eager (and cheap) new faces to throw into the mix. Where we can, we will give you the original salaries paid to the stars way back in 1977 for the first film and then give you a side-by-side comparison with what they’re worth these days. Trust us, things have changed a whole lot. We’ll focus on the original 1977 film, together with more recent offerings. Here are 15 Star Wars actors and actresses, most of whom started out with very little. Some are rich, while many are not. It just might surprise you how little some of them got paid for their Star Wars work. Like, try nothing.
15. Harrison Ford (From $1,000 A Week To $10-$20 Million)
Okay. Believe it or not, way back in 1977, Harrison Ford got $10,000 for the ten weeks of work he did on the original film! And, as a relatively unknown actor back then, he was happy to get that. Fast forward to The Force Awakens and the story is a little different. Estimates vary wildly, but think in terms of tens of millions of dollars and you won’t be far off. Plus, he gets a cut of the film’s gross receipts. The 1977 film made Ford a big-time star and he has gone on to amass a $210 million pile of cash. His partner, Calista Flockhart, was only 13 years old when Ford starred alongside Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the first flick. And we wonder what she made of Carrie Fisher spilling the beans about her up close and personal contact with Ford way back then. We gotta say, he still wears his age remarkably well.
14. Mark Hamill (From $650,000 To $3-$5 Million)
When they made the first film in 1977, it may be hard to believe but among Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, Hamill was totally the biggest star and got $650,000! These days, forget it. He gets pushed into a very distant second place by Harrison Ford and his box office clout. Mark has been acting for 50 years and has worked steadily to accumulate his $6 million fortune. But hey! We hate to say it, but the guy is totally showing his 65 years big time. Never mind, there’s still a lot more Star Wars in our Mark’s future. See (Spoiler!), we all know what happened to Han Solo in The Force Awakens. So, duh! It’s extremely unlikely that Ford will return to the franchise in any way, shape, or form. But Hamill? He’s a very rare commodity and the last of the original stars left standing. So, look for more millions to be coming his way.
13. Alec Guinness (From $3.3 Million To $5o Million)
Are you surprised that Alec Guinness who was Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first three films, made more out of them than the three young stars? Well, he did. He had this real take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Come up with the money and I’ll do it, he said. See, his lawyer negotiated a sweet deal whereby he got 2.25 percent of profits from the film. That meant he got a mega $3.3 million for the first film, and over the life of his involvement with the franchise, he scored at least $50 million. No wonder the guy was worth $100 million. Never mind that. Back in 1975, he called the film “fairy-tale rubbish” and he couldn’t even remember George Lucas‘ first name. He referred to him as “Paul” Lucas. Anyone who has seen A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and The Return of the Jedi (1983) knows that, arrogant or not, Guinness was worth every penny.
12. Carrie Fisher (From Tens Of Thousands To $2 Million?)
Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was every boy’s (and man’s) fantasy woman. Drop-dead gorgeous, tough, and funny, she and Harrison Ford as Han Solo bounced cracks and jokes and one-liners off one another, while poor old Luke Skywalker kind of plodded along in their wake. Now Fisher was always very, very private about how much she got paid for acting gigs. But her pay for the first Star Wars film would have probably been on a par with the $1,000 weekly pay that Harrison Ford got. Then, she did a dumb thing and signed away her rights to her image, meaning all the dosh from Princess Leia action figures and the like did not go to Fisher. And for her last film, The Force Awakens, she probably scored a couple of million dollars to add to her $5 million fortune. Her shocking death in 2016 sent Lucasfilm and Disney into a total meltdown of a panic.
11. Felicity Jones ($1 Million Plus)
2016’s Rogue One raked in more than $1 billion in worldwide box office. And, on the back of her Academy Award nomination for The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones used her clout to snag the best paycheck for the film, scoring a cool $1-million-plus package. Her star turn as Rebel fighter Jyn Erso, is one of the best things in the film. Now, it may have been a one-off film, but Felicity has taken Jyn and her voice on the road, doing voice-overs for TV’s Star Wars: Forces of Destiny. Felicity has said that in making Rogue One, she channeled Ronda Rousey. We know. It doesn’t make sense to us either. I mean, Ronda Rousey? Maybe she was a little too young to play Tom Hanks‘ sidekick in 2016’s Inferno, but darn it, she looked good doing it.
10. Adam Driver ($750,000)
Okay, that’s the A-Team. Time for the B-Team. You know, the kind of actors who have had some success on TV and in movies, but are not A-List (yet). People recognize their names and their faces. Adam Driver did a star turn on HBO’s Girls. That was his “breakout” role. So, when it came to The Force Awakens, he was a (sort of) known quantity and perfect, many say for nasty villain, Kylo Ren. What’s even better is that he did a great job of being nasty, spiteful, and cruel. In other words, he was a hit that will run and run through the franchise and worth every penny of the reported $750,000 he was paid. He’s the kind of guy who joined the Marines in the wake of 9/11 and then invalided out when he broke something in a bike accident. You know. Macho, but clumsy. And he’s probably got a couple of millions stashed away. That’ll buy a lot of crutches.
9. Oscar Isaac ($750,000)
On the one hand, the Ecuadorian/American hunk was the dashing X-wing pilot, Poe Dameron, in The Force Awakens. On the other hand, he was the villain Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. And he’s the kind of guy who gets nominated for and sometimes wins Golden Globes and the likes. So, he’s but another paid-up B-Team member with a proven track record, great reviews, and the occasional accolade for his efforts. Oscar Isaac is also a busy hunk, having just completed The Last Jedi. He’s already teasing fans with comments on how the eighth film will boldly go. No… wrong franchise. Anyway, it looks as if he and Poe Dameron will probably be around the Star Wars universe for a while.
8. Anthony Daniels ($180,995)
See, we’ve fallen off the Star Wars cliff into the dungeon of less well-paid actors and actresses. Mind you, getting $180,000 plus for C-3PO in 1977’s A New Hope ain’t bad, but unlike the likes of Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels has more or less stayed where he started, salary-wise. He might end up with a few hundreds of thousands from The Force Awakens, but probably not, as his voice was not even used in the latest installment. He has been the body and the voice of the oh-so-well-spoken-like-a-posh-butler C-3PO from the beginning. Now in his 70’s, Daniels used to be a young and fresh-faced 30-something when he started stuffing himself into that tin getup. And what does he think of The Force Awakens? Not much. Apparently, his eyes glazed over when he heard the story. That’s bad.
7. Kenny Baker ($7,810 To A Few Hundreds Of Thousands?)
R2D2, that pesky little robot thingy that drives C-3PO nuts. Kenny Baker did the gig from the first film in 1977 down to a small part in 2015’s The Force Awakens. He died in August of 2016. Think C-3PO and R2D2 were best mates? Think again. Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels apparently had a running feud, with Baker saying Daniels was just rude to everybody. Baker got all of $7,810 for the first film and probably got to around a low six-figure sum for later installments. The old hands like Baker are really on a par with newbies such as Daisy Ridley. As Forbes pointed out, the whole bill for the cast of The Force Awakens was less than Disney had to pay Robert Downey Jr. to get him to reprise his Iron Man role. So, as the magazine pointed out, they are hiring young unknowns that can be a part of a large ensemble cast. The newbies get fame, but so far, not much money.
6. Daisy Ridley ($100,000)
Hollywood is a tough town. If you’re Tom Hanks or Harrison Ford, you bring home millions per film. Up-and-coming hotties like Felicity Jones just might luck out and score a million. Even a couple of years ago, Daisy Ridley was probably not even up-and-coming, only occasionally making appearances on British TV. And then, wham bam! 2015 brings Rey and The Force Awakens into her life. They called it her “breakthrough” role. And, in the hopes of getting a breakthrough, she took the $100,000 or so and said ‘thank you very much’. Now? Different ballgame for our Daisy. She’s doing a star turn next to Johnny Depp in the new Murder on the Orient Express and has just finished 2017’s The Last Jedi, playing Rey.
5. John Boyega ($100,000)
English actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were in the same C-List limbo when The Force Awakens came knocking. Now she’s up-and-coming and he’s the actor who is “known” for playing Finn in Star Wars. He’s already reprised the role in the eighth film, The Last Jedi, and has signed on the dotted line for the ninth film in 2019. In status and salary, he’s moving in the right direction and poised to go from “low six figures” to “mid-to-high six figures.” If Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are the Star Wars past, Ridley and Boyega are the bright Star Wars future. Twenty years from now, he’ll be the old guy of the franchise. But these days, the 20-something is fresh and hot and talented. And Finn? He’s gonna get more physical and is going to channel that dark vibe in the next film.
4. Peter Mayhew ($5,400 To Five Figure Sum)
Chewbacca is cool in a scary kind of way. Even if English actor Peter Mayhew has only amassed around $500,000 in net worth, he’s had a ball dressing up as the 7-foot grunting creature in a number of Star Wars films. But, let’s face it. If they got another 7-foot-3-inch actor and stuffed him into the furry suit, who would notice other than Peter Mayhew (and maybe his wife)? Mayhew got all of $5,400 for the first film and probably is pulling down a respectable five-figure sum for his brief turns in more recent films. And, don’t forget. He gets to roll up to things like Comic Con dressed as everybody’s favorite Wookie and do star turns as Chewbacca on TV shows like Glee. Without Chewbacca, Mayhew probably wouldn’t have an “acting” career.
3. James Earl Jones ($5,000 -$7,000 To Five Or Six Figures)
Back in 1977, nobody saw the phenomena that is Star Wars coming. And when James Earl Jones signed on to do the voice of evil Darth Vader, he said ‘no thanks’ to a cut of the profits (which he obviously didn’t think would amount much) and got around $7,000 in cold hard cash. Now, in the intervening years, Darth Vader has been good to James Earl Jones, with voice-over gigs in video games, movies and TV. The guy has around $45 million to call his own. Jones was not anywhere near the top of the money pile for his voice work in Rogue One, but according to the film’s director, Gareth Edwards, Jones intoning the word “power” in his best Darth Vader voice, caused a group “nerdgasm.” We think that sounds like a good thing, but maybe a little messy?
2. Warwick Davis ($60 A Day)
Warwick Davis has said that when he played Wicket the Ewok in 1981’s Star Wars, he was paid…wait for it…$60 a day! Now, mind you, he was only 11 years old and he was more interested in meeting Luke Skywalker and Han Solo than he was worrying about the pay. And he has gone on to do star turns in lucrative film franchises such as Harry Potter. So, he’s sitting on a cool $5 million fortune. He has since done several more Star Wars films and we are certain that there was more than $60 a day in it for the 3-feet-6-inch star. Look at it this way. His films have grossed $3.5 billion. And, in Hollywood, box office clout means bigger pay. Still, he’ll probably never get off the B-List.
1. David Prowse (Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nothing)
WTF? No way, you say. Yes way, says David Prowse. He was the body (not the voice) of Darth Vader in the first three films. As the whole world knows, James Earl Jones was the voice of Darth V. Now, the deal the English actor signed with Lucasfilm was that he was to get a cut of net profits. That means, after all expenses and bills have been paid. Biggies like Harrison Ford get a cut of gross profits before the deduction of any expenses. Prowse has gone very public and said that he got nothing for the original 1977 film nor for 1983’s Return of the Jedi. In fact, Lucasfilm occasionally still writes to him to tell him that major box office hits like Jedi are still not in profit! Hey, don’t worry. These days, some sources say he has a cool $3 million in the bank.