Part of the appeal of being a celebrity is the millions of dollars that come with the job. When most people think of being famous, thoughts of private yachts, designer clothes and mansions often come to mind. Many of these celebrities are able to send their children to the best schools. A number of your favorite celebs hire staff that often consists of a personal assistant, nanny and personal chef. And there are plenty of entertainment blogs that show the Hollywood elite taking extravagant trips around the world and vacationing in some of the most elegant hotels in the world. However, there are some mega-celebrities with salaries that are considerably lower than you may think.
It’s not always clear why some celebrity salaries are lower than others. Of course, fame and demand have a lot to do with it, but the public generally thinks that people who are well-known make more money than those who are not. Perhaps these celebrities participate in a number of “passion projects” that don’t have a large budget. Or, maybe some celebs think that if enough people are aware of their work, a more high-paying opportunity is bound to come along at some point. In any case, the amount of money these celebrities do make is considerably higher than the average salary. Here are 10 celebs whose salaries are surprisingly low.
10. Spencer Lacey Gains
Spencer Lacey Ganus, who is known for her voice work on popular animated films such as Ice Age: The Meltdown Happy Feet and Frozen, was paid $926 the day she voiced teenage Elsa in the movie Frozen. While this may sound like a pretty ideal salary for people who aren’t celebrities, especially for a day’s work, the film made $1.3 billion at the box office. However, Ganus was later paid in residuals, to the tune of $10,000. That’s still a small amount when you consider how much money Frozen has made at the box office and in DVD sales and other movie-related items. But hey, it’s still better than $926.
9. Barkhad Abdi
Barkhad Abdi became the unforgettable face of the movie Captain Phillips, and gave a stunning performance, especially considering this was his first acting role. But the movie didn’t exactly make him a rich celebrity. The Somali-born actor only made $65,000 for starring in the film alongside Tom Hanks. Captain Phillips grossed $55 million at the box office, which makes $65,000 a very small salary–even though many people are happy to bring home this amount in a year’s time. Abdi also received accolades for his performance, including a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Supporting Role. He also received a Golden Globe nomination, as well as a BAFTA nomination and win.
8. Sean Astin
Sean Astin has been acting for quite some time, and comes from Hollywood royalty, as he is the son of Patty Duke from The Patty Duke Show. He voices Oso on Disney Junior’s Special Agent Oso and is the voice of Raphael on Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But Astin is perhaps best known for his role as Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings movies. The actor agreed to three movies and committed to years of film. He was only offered $250,000 for his work, but when the movies became a hit at the box office, he and the rest of the cast received some pretty hefty bonuses. His co-star Elijah Wood, is said to have received $1 million for appearing for just two minutes in the movie The Hobbit.
7. Chris Evans
Marvel doesn’t usually reveal how much it pays its actors, usually because the company is known for offering low salaries. It has been said that Marvel only offers large salaries when they need actors back for sequel movies. Chris Evans had one of the smallest salaries of all the Marvel Avengers when he starred as Captain America–he only made $300,000 for his first solo movie. However, when he appeared in The Avengers, he made a salary that matched many of his co-stars, which was between $2 and $3 million. Surprisingly, Scarlett Johansson, who was also in The Avengers, made $4-$6 million.
6. Minnie Driver
When Minnie Driver got her $5,000 movie role in the film GoldenEye, she was living on a beach in Uruguay and broke. Her agent called and asked if she’d be interested in appearing in GoldenEye, which was Pierce Brosnan’s first James Bond film. She was only in the film for a few minutes, and had to sing Stand By Your Man in a heavy Russian accent while wearing a bejeweled cowboy hat. Not exactly a life-changing role, but it only took a day’s work. And again, she earned $5,000. Plus, she’ll always be able to say that she appeared in a Bond movie, which is pretty impressive. Driver is also known for her guest appearances on Will and Grace, her starring role in the show About a Boy, and her starring role in the movie Beyond The Lights.
5. Bill Murray
Bill Murray is a comedian and actor who first got noticed on Saturday Night Live, which earned him an Emmy. He also starred in the films Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation and The Grand Budapest Hotel, among others. However, he is well known for being anti-Hollywood, in that he doesn’t have an agent, and he often turns down large movie projects to take on small, independent films. Murray appeared in Wes Anderson’s film Rushmore, for which he earned $9,000. Perhaps Murray is one of the actors who simply does it for the art, and is happy to be compensated for his time. Or, maybe he made enough money in the early stages of his career to take a pay cut from time to time.
4. Matthew McConaughey
Even though he has been teased for his series of not-so-great films earlier in his career, Matthew McConaughey seems to have always had the power to get studios to pay him a pretty penny. For instance, he was offered $1.5 million to play the titular character in a remake of Magnum P.I. He turned the offer down, but when the film Dallas Buyers Club was offered to him, he accepted, even though he would only be paid $200,000. The project took three years to complete, but now he is reaping the benefits, since the thought-provoking film has gotten lots of critical acclaim. McConaughey is also known for starring in films such as How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch.
3. John Travolta
John Travolta was only paid a mere $150,000 for appearing in the film Pulp Fiction. This seems like a small price for such a well-known actor who, at one time, was arguably one of the biggest male actors in the world. However, Travolta’s career wasn’t going so well when he was pegged by director Quentin Tarantino to play Vincent Vega. While Pulp Fiction itself didn’t exactly offer a huge payday, John Travolta was able to revive his career and make up to $20 million in films such as Basic and Swordfish, even though these movies weren’t exactly huge hits at the box office.
2. George Clooney
George Clooney has long been known as one of the most talented and dashing men in Hollywood. He has also handled his career quite wisely, often alternating between roles that will make him lots of money and roles that are socially conscious passion projects. For instance, he got a hefty salary for his role in Ocean’s Eleven, but the pay was much smaller when he appeared in Syriana. He wrote, directed and starred in the film Good Night and Good Luck, and only made $120,000 for fulfilling all three of those roles. This was Clooney’s second directing project, and was a film about television journalist Edward R. Murrow and his efforts to take down Senator Joseph McCarthy. Good Night and Good Luck received six Oscar nominations, and Clooney won two of them. He then went on to make another movie in the Oceans series, which earned him $15 million.
1. Oprah Winfrey
When you think rich and famous, Oprah Winfrey naturally comes to mind. Before the businesswoman, former talk show host, television station owner and actress became as well known as she now is, she agreed to act in a movie for just $35,000. That movie was The Color Purple and her role was Sofia, an abused and steadfast wife. Obviously this salary was acceptable at a time when Oprah wasn’t hailed as the Queen of Media. Now she’s worth about $3 billion. However, her role in The Color Purple earned her an Oscar nomination, and that’s something money can’t buy. Winfrey’s most recent movies include The Butler and Selma.
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