There are a ton of actors in Hollywood that you might be shocked to find don’t make as much money as you would think. Not only that but some of their most epics roles came in the form of a terrible paycheque. It rocked at the box office and may have even won the actors an Oscar, so you would expect them to get a big paycheque as well. But that isn’t always the case and that’s the most surprising thing of all. It’s a mystery as to why some actors get paid a boatload of cash while others don’t.
Then there is the other side of the coin, the actors that are paid millions of dollars regardless of the movie that they are in and sometimes we have to question if they are worth so much. We hear how actors are paid in the high millions, even if the movie isn’t that great. It’s like they are paid so much just for their names. Check out these 10 A-list actors who don’t get paid as much as we think (and 10 who get too much).
20 Paid Less: Jim Carrey Got Paid $0
Is this a joke? No, it sure isn’t. Sometimes actors like to roll the dice and see what they can get later on down the road. When Jim Carrey took on the role in Yes Man, he didn’t take any money upfront. Some people would consider him to be crazy to do such a thing. Instead, Carrey asked for a portion of the gross profit from what the film earned. Carrey was taking a big risk, but at the end of the day, it made $225 million overall. Jim Carrey got to take home 36.2% of the gross profit, so he ended up walking away with $35 million.
19 Paid More: Johnny Depp Was Paid For 661 Words
When Johnny Depp played the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, he was paid a fortune for the role. You would think that it was totally normal because it’s Johnny Depp but let’s dig a little deeper.
He was paid $20 million even though his role required him to only say 661 words of dialogue in the entire film.
He was likely paid more than some of the other actors who were in the film a lot more than he was. He certainly wasn’t even the main character in the film.
18 Paid Less: Dustin Hoffman was young
The Graduate is now considered to be a classic and pretty much everyone knows what it is. In its lifetime, the film earned $104,945,305. The unfortunate part of the whole thing is that Dustin Hoffman wasn’t paid millions of dollars for the role regardless of the fact that it was one of the most successful films.
Hoffman was only paid a measly $17,000 for the role and it was exactly how much he needed to get out of debt.
It wasn’t all bad for Hoffman because it was the movie that launched his career.
17 Paid More: Jack Nicholson was no joke
We can probably all agree that Jack Nicholson’s role as the Joker in Batman was pretty epic. It was another role that wasn’t very big for Nicholson. The role required him to only say 585 words of dialogue, even less than Johnny Depp, and yet, he was paid $6 million at the time, plus a portion of box-office earnings. If he was paid for the same role today the cost of inflation would have meant that he was paid $100 million for a role that wasn’t very big.
16 Paid Less: Ethan Hawke wasn't paid right away
The Purge was one of those original ideas that came around to create a pretty scary movie. This was another film where the lead actor wasn’t paid any money upfront. Ethan Hawke was the most famous star in the movie and he asked for no special treatment. He asked for profits from the box office. He stated in an interview. "There were no perks," he says. "No trailer, no driver, no BS, just a great role, a great director. Hell, on The Purge, I slept on his couch the whole shoot."
15 Paid More: Arnold Schwarzenegger carried the film
This is another case of an actor getting paid millions of dollars for a role that basically had no words in it. When Arnold played the Terminator in the second movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, he only spoke 861 words of dialogue and yet, he was paid a ton more than his costars were. We get it, he is the star of the show, but does that mean that he should get paid an obscene amount of money when he’s not even speaking that much?
14 Paid Less: Harrison Ford should have gotten more
His role in Star Wars made his career, so it’s funny to think that he almost turned the role down. The reason that he almost turned the role down was because he was being paid a pittance for the role. They offered him a $1,000 a week for the role of Han Solo. When it was all said and down, he made $10,000 for the movie. Could you image offering Chris Pratt $1,000 a week for his role as the Star Lord, it just wouldn’t happen. Obviously, Ford made sure he was paid his worth when the sequels came around.
13 Paid More: Robert Downey Jr. is the man
There is no doubt about it, Robert Downey Jr. is the key player in the Avengers franchise. We couldn’t imagine the movies without his sarcastic nature. But, is he worth over $50 million a movie? We’re sure that he is the highest paid actor in the franchise. When you think of his role in Marvel, it’s estimated that he made around $200 million, which is an insane amount of money. When he completes his earnings from Avengers: Infinity War, that figure will be around $240.5 million.
12 Paid Less: Tom Cruise is box-office gold
Tom Cruise no doubt has made a ton of money over the years, his movies are considered to be box-office gold. He’s one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood so you may be asking yourself why he’s on the paid less side. When it came to his role in Magnolia, Cruise was only paid $100,000 for his role. For someone of his stature in Hollywood, this isn’t a lot of money. Cruise loved the script so much that he decided not to worry about the money, he just wanted to play the character.
11 Paid More: Adam Sandler Pulls in $50.5M
We’re a little surprised by this number because the last few movies Adam Sandler was in were just disappointing. He doesn’t seem to pull the numbers in the way that he used to. So why is he still one of the highest paid actors? He used to be comedy gold, but he hasn’t done a successful comedy in years. Netflix loves him, though, and just signed a four-movie deal with him. Considering his flops lately, he may be one of the more overpaid actors out there.
10 Paid Less: Bill Murray is always a good laugh
You would think with any movie that Bill Murray was involved in, they would just throw the money at him. Murray is the kind of actor that picks and chooses his roles carefully, he doesn’t take any role. When he got the role in Rushmore, he was only paid $9,000, which just sounds crazy for an actor. It was another case of an actor willing to take less in order to play a character that inspired them. It was easily one of his best performances, so it’s too bad that he wasn’t paid his worth for the film.
9 Paid More: Vin Diesel runs the show
Many people wouldn’t consider the Fast and the Furious franchise to have high-caliber acting. These are movies that will never win Oscars and you won’t find Al Pacino in one. Yet, Vin Diesel gets paid upward of $54 million a year for some of his roles. Sure, these roles are entertaining, and they definitely have a fan base in order to pump out eight of the movies but it’s crazy to think that Vin Diesel gets paid so much for roles that wouldn’t necessarily change anyone’s life.
8 Paid Less: Lindsay Lohan isn't an A-lister
It’s been a while since we saw Lindsay Lohan in anything really good, but there was a time when she was on top of the world. Regardless of the fact that she is no longer on top, she is a household name. There aren’t too many people out there that don’t know who Lindsay Lohan is. In 2013 she signed up to do The Canyons, but was paid only $2,300 for the 23 days she worked. That’s like a minimum wage job. She was trying to prove that she could be taken seriously again as an actress, but unfortunately, the movie didn’t do well, so her career was not redeemed.
7 Paid More: Dwayne Johnson brings home the bacon
It doesn’t seem to matter what Dwayne Johnson is in, it’s going to be amazing. He has thrown out a ton of movies lately like Rampage, Baywatch, Jumanji, and Skyscraper. His movies are becoming box office gold themselves. He gets paid upwards of $25 million a movie and last year he made $68 million. He even gets paid an addition $1 million if he promotes his movies on social media. That’s crazy — just to make daily posts about his movies, he walks away with a million.
6 Paid Less: Jon Voight worked his way up
This was the movie that made Jon Voight into a star. The main reason he took the role with such low pay was that he was promised that it would take his career to the next level and it did. He literally got paid minimum wage to make the film, but he felt it worked out in the end. He told his agent, "Tell them I'll do this part for nothing." To his surprise, "they took me at [his] word, and they gave [him] minimum for Midnight Cowboy.” What’s even more surprising is that they also sent him a bill of $14.73 on the last day of filming for the meals he had.
5 Paid More: Mark Wahlberg does blockbusters
Mark Wahlberg was on Forbes list in 2017 as one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. In 2017, he made close to $70 million thanks to movies like Transformers: The Last Night and Daddy’s Home 2. He also has a family business in the form of a burger restaurant called Wahlbergers, not to mention his endorsement deals with AT&T. He’s an actor that has been in the industry for a long time now and it’s certainly paid off for him.
4 Paid Less: Oprah believed in the project
Saying that Oprah is a wealthy woman would be an understatement, but things weren’t always that way for her. She had to earn every dollar that she made. At one point she was making $1 million a day. She barely made any money at all however when she starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. At the time she only made $35,000 for the role and that probably seems like pocket change to her now. It did give her a ton of award nominations however and helped her career along.
3 Paid More: Ryan Reynolds paid his dues
There was a time when Ryan Reynolds was just getting paid $150 a day for roles. “For me, I thought I was, like, a gajillionaire," Reynolds told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan in an interview that aired on ABC. "For $150 a day, it was like a dream come true." That changed of course when Deadpool came around. He made $2 million for the first movie and close to $20 million for the second. He’s certainly one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood right now.
2 Paid Less: Ryan Gosling enjoys his indie flicks
We know that Ryan Gosling prefers indie flicks more than big blockbuster movies. We are unlikely to ever see him in a superhero franchise. He’s an exceptional actor, however, and should be paid his worth. Shortly after making The Notebook, which is the movie that made him into a star, he went on to Make Half Nelson. He only made $1,000 a week from the film, which seems surprisingly low after the success of The Notebook. He got paid pennies for the performance, but thankfully it did get him an Oscar nod.
1 Paid More: Jennifer Aniston brings in millions
Jennifer Aniston only did a couple of smaller projects last year and still made close to $30 million. She is easily one of the highest-paid actresses in the industry and it’s still too bad that Hollywood men are making so much more than women are in the industry. “We're very much a sexist society. Women are still not paid as much as men. I’ve been up against that in negotiations myself.” She still makes a ton of money though and that puts her in the "paid more" category.