There seems to be something that happens to actors once they've made big hits and that is their work sometimes becomes almost unbearable. Maybe it’s from earning legions of loyal fans that will flock to literally anything that's put out or perhaps it’s the earning of legions of hundred dollar bills that lowers the motivation for quality work but movies from stars such as Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, and Jim Carrey are not as good as they used to be. The thing is, the price tag for these stars continually rises instead of going in the other direction. While overpaid actors is one part of the spectrum, there are actually some actors that are a real bargain for the buck.
10 Robert Pattinson
He’s been described as the sexiest man alive and Hollywood producers know how much disposable income ‘tween’ fans of Robert Pattinson have at their fingertips. The actor made only $2,000,000 for his role in the first Twilight film which grossed over $190,000,000 just in the United States box office sales. Even his role in the films two-part finale was budget friendly with a deal of $12,500,000 up front as well as 7% of the gross per movie. Pattinson could also be described as underpaid because he takes on more Indie passion projects that have a smaller budget.
9 Daniel Radcliff
Daniel Radcliffe hit the lottery when he was cast for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2008, even though winning the actual lottery might have netted him more than the $250,000 salary. Still the famed novel character Harry Potter finally had a look and it was all but guaranteed that Radcliffe would be re-cast in any successor’s to the original movie. Radcliffe has a net worth of over $80 million without yet reaching his mid-20’s but his Harry Potter movies have grossed over $7.7 billion in worldwide receipts.
8 James McAvoy
The Scottish actor states that his humble background has helped him keep a level head even when starring opposite A-lister Angelina Jolie in Wanted as well as in the big budget film X-Men: First Class. McAvoy has a background on the stage and he avoids becoming overpaid by taking lesser known roles in small budget productions. The diverse actor also earns income from stock holdings, property investments, endorsement deals, restaurant ownership, a Football team, a vodka brand, a perfume, and the obligatory clothing line. These are not just hobbies to kill time either as the actor has amassed a net worth of over $275 million.
7 Ashton Kutcher
While his movies aren’t exactly box office smashes, Ashton Kutcher is actually a bargain for his role on TV’s Two and a Half Men. First off, there are not many actors who could replace the legendary Charlie Sheen on the show without the program missing too many beats comedically. Add to that the fact that Kutcher works for $700,000 per episode compared to Sheen’s $1.2 million while the show maintains the #2 primetime comedy slot and ‘Walden Schmidt’ just might be a bargain billionaire.
6 Michael Cera
Cera has quietly built a pretty solid repertoire of movies on his resume, even though he seemingly plays the same character every time. Superbad has made over $100,000,000 above its budget and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist relayed a $9 million budget into a $31 million gross. As with many young stars, Cera does not yet command a payday of $10,000,000 plus but is still considered a box office draw.
5 The Rock
It's hard to say that an actor who reportedly earns upwards of $25,000,000 per movie could be considered underpaid but Dwayne Johnson has proven he can single-handedly rescue a floundering franchise like The Fast & the Furious. Fast Five grossed over $200 million in the U.S.A. and opened up the door to at least two additional movies that are expecting similar numbers. Comparably Fast & Furious (part 4) made about $55 million less. The G.I. Joe franchise is hoping Johnson brings similar luck to them as "The Rock" has become one of Hollywood’s most coveted assets.
4 Robert Downey Jr
There’s perhaps no better redemption story in Hollywood than that of Robert Downey Jr. Few knew if he was going to be alive let alone making movies when drug and alcohol problems threatened to derail his promising career. Downey regained his sobriety and made the long trek back to stardom by taking smaller paydays in films, as little as $100 per day. Now he can sit back and make Iron Man and The Avengers sequels for $50,000,000 a pop for the foreseeable future.
3 Nicolas Cage
Two things makes Cage such a bargain for Hollywood casting directors: 1) he’s a familiar name 2) he’s broke. Cage already has eight movies set for release in 2013-14 so his name is staying in the news. The actor’s salary arc peaked in 2000's Gone in Sixty Seconds where he made $20,000,000 to as little as $2,000,000 for 2002’s Adaptation.
2 Shia LaBeouf
It’s hard to believe that Shia LaBeouf is only in his mid twenties since he’s been a prominent child actor since his youth but the star still represents profitability to studios. While LaBeouf seemed on the path to $20 million per film paydays, he fancies himself a tradesman and self-imposed a ban on making blockbusters to instead focus on Indie films with more depth. There are reports that LaBeouf is backtracking from that ban and wants $18 million to appear in the next Transformers film. It might be worth it for past services rendered as LaBeouf’s salary on the $320 million dollar grossing Transformers (2007) was only $500,000.
1 1. Johnny Depp
It can sometimes be hard to justify an actor making 20, 30, 40, 50 million dollars or more for a few weeks of work but a person has to remember these greats have certain skills that the average person doesn’t. Character actor Clint Howard could never play Captain Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp actually earns the money that he makes on a film. Not to mention, attaching Depp to a movie usually guarantees at least $100 million at the box office. Paying Depp $10,000,000 to appear in the first Pirates of the Caribbean seems like a steal on a movie that made over $300,000,000 just in the U.S.A.