Times can be rough — for everybody — which is why some big-time actors have agreed to low paying work over the years. While most celebs have a minimum amount of money they are willing to work for, there can be times when they are willing to receive lower compensation rates in order to return to the spotlight. Actors, like everyday people, can be met with obstacles during their careers, leading them to swallow their pride and agree to a fraction of what they are usually paid in order to make ends meet. While this does not happen often, celebs might feel the need to accept lower budget projects due to the stigmas that follow their reputation on a day-to-day basis.
While a celeb might be used to making over a million dollars for a single gig, it isn’t uncommon for them to take a pay-cut when working on low-budget films in which they feel the script has great promise. In some cases, celebs might be so desperate to work with a renown director or actor that they’ll offer their services at a special price. Often, they’ll do this knowing that the pay-cut can help boost their career back to where it once was.
Want to find out which celebs accepted low wages when they were actually worth much more? Then keep on reading!
15. Jim Carrey – Yes Man – $0
Jim Carrey is not a desperate man when it comes to money, but he is overly-excited to get his hands on any film he envisions himself in. This was exactly the case for 2008’s Yes Man. Being the seasoned actor that he is, Carrey is used to asking for a $20 million base fee plus 20% of the film’s gross earnings. However, when it came to this particular movie, Carrey agreed to waive his base fee and instead receive 36.2% of the movie’s earnings.
If you don’t know much about Carrey, you might think that he has marshmallows for brains, but in fact, you’d be wrong to think that. Despite not making a base salary, Carrey ended up making $30 million thanks to his deal. However, this kind of deal was a gamble and one that Carrey could have ended up sorry for.
14. Spencer Lacey Ganus – Frozen – $10,926
Spencer Lacey Ganus is a young voice actress who has had an impressive career despite the fact that she is only 18 years old. Ganus is known for her contributions to movie Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Frozen. Despite the fact that she is well-versed in the world of voice acting, Ganus was only paid $926 for her role as teenage Elsa. In the end, the recording for her role only took one day, but most would agree that her compensation was minor — especially since the movie itself made $1.3 billion in box office earnings.
13. Jonah Hill – Wolf Of Wall Street – $60,000
Jonah Hill is an actor who is used to making a fair amount of money when he stars in a film, however, there are times when things don’t necessarily go as planned. When it comes to the making of Wolf Of Wall Street, it wasn’t so much that Hill was desperate for cash, but more so that he was dying to work alongside famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese. Hill was so set on working with the duo, that he willingly took a pay cut in order for him to secure the role of Moneyball.
In the end, Hill was paid $60,000 dollars for an intense 7-month shoot. This wage is usually attributed to new actors who have recently joined SAG. In other words, it is considered to be minimum wage for actors.
12. Jamie Dornan – 50 Shades Of Grey – $107,000
Jamie Dornan is an Irish actor who is best known for his leading role in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. Before landing the role of Christian Grey, however, Dornan had only acted in the TV series Once Upon a Time. Due to his weak experience in the industry, Dornan was only paid $107,000 for the film. While it is true that he was more fairly compensated for the trilogy’s second and third film, the actor had to bite his tongue and accept the low wage, knowing that it would all be worth it in the end. Since his breakout role, Dornan has become a very sought-out actor and has even been approached for the role of Will Scarlet in the upcoming movie Robin Hood.
11. Lindsay Lohan – The Canyons – $6,480
Lindsay Lohan might have been the biggest and most sought-after actress in the early 2000s, but she has managed to butcher her name over the last decade. Still, many producers and directors are willing to help her get her act together by offering her small roles in their movies. Regardless of this, Lohan still manages to cause a ruckus on set, thus why she is not often asked back.
At one point in time, Lohan wouldn’t work for less than $5 million, but now, she’ll work for just about anything. Lohan was given a small part in Paul Schrader’s film The Canyons, which basically had the smallest budget on Earth. So what did the renown actress get paid for her role? A measly $6,480.
10. Sean Astin – Lord Of The Rings Trilogy – $250,000
Sean Astin might not be the biggest stud in Hollywood, but he definitely has something to bring to the table. This amazing actor has had the opportunity to work in major productions like Stranger Things, The Do-Over, and 24. Perhaps one of his greatest roles, however, was the one of Sam Gamgee in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Despite the movies being so epic that they nearly destroyed the box office, Astin was only paid $250,000 for all 3 movies.
When he was first approached for the role in 2001, he was made to sign on for 3 movies at once. At that point in time, Astin was desperate to lock down a role that could potentially bring him to fame — so he swallowed his pride and signed his name on the dotted line.
9. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club – $200,000
Matthew McConaughey is by far one of the most talented and dedicated actors in Hollywood. The actor has proven this, time and time again, by taking on difficult roles that appear to have little reward. When McConaughey was approached for the role of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, he agreed to the promise of $200,000. While the actor was not desperate for money, he was indeed yearning to make a film of sustenance, which is why he accepted the low wage in the first place.
In the end, the film allowed McConaughey to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, which is definitely something to be proud of. Despite all of this, McConaughey had to go to extreme lengths to fit the profile of his character, which is why he lost 40 pounds for the role.
8. Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman – $300,000
Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress who moved to America to follow her dreams. Due to her excellent acting skills and dazzling looks, Gadot was quickly recognized by many directors and agents. Despite the fact that she has been modelling and acting since the year 2000, the actress was only paid $300,000 for her role as Diana in 2017’s Wonder Woman. Oddly enough, the actress was paid that exact same amount for her small appearances in Justice League and Justice League Part Two.
While most actors are paid a low amount when they first start out in the industry, Gadot has acted in big-time movies like Date Night, Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, and Fast & Furious 7. Hopefully, the actress will be rightfully compensated for 2019’s Wonder Woman 2.
7. Henry Cavill – Man Of Steel – $300,000
Henry Cavill is an American actor who is best known for playing Clark Kent in 2013’s Man of Steel. Since then, Cavill has been cast in many superhero movies like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and more. There was a lot of controversy around the fact that Cavill was paid $14 million for his role in Man of Steel while actress Gal Gadot was only paid $300,000 for her starring role in Wonder Woman. However, this rumor has since then been debunked, and the truth has surfaced. Much like Gadot, Cavill was paid a similar amount of $300,000 for his first time as Superman.
6. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $400,000
While it makes total sense that seasoned actors like Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fischer, and Harrison Ford were paid generous amounts for their contribution to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it has recently come out that the actors made more than 76 times the amount that Daisy Ridley was paid. Despite the film making more than a billion dollars in the box office, Ridley was paid roughly $400,000 while Ford was paid $30,000,000. While this may seem unfair, it is common for A-list actors to be paid a drastic amount of money when starring in such a film. Nevertheless, the exposure that this film has brought to Ridley’s career is illuminating, which is why she has already been cast in a handful of new productions. As her portfolio thickens, so will her paychecks.
5. Oprah Winfrey – The Color Purple – $35,000
Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest women alive today, but this wasn’t always the case. As many of you probably know, Winfrey came from a very poor and abusive background, which is a stone she has had to carry throughout her entire life. Never letting the negative aspects of life drag her down, Winfrey put her smarts together and built an empire around her name. Today, Winfrey is a known producer and TV personality, as well as an Oscar nominee actress.
Before her fame became her, however, Winfrey accepted to play the role of Sofia in the movie The Color Purple. At that time, director Steven Spielberg awarded Winfrey $35,000 dollars for her role, and she was happy to take it. While things might have changed for Winfrey money-wise, she definitely doesn’t regret playing in the film.
4. Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson – $1000/Week
Ryan Gosling is a Canadian actor who has avidly been seeking acting opportunities since he was 14 years old. Since then, Gosling has landed roles in much-loved movies like The Notebook, The Big Short, and La La Land. While Gosling is used to being paid a fair amount of money for a small movie appearance, he surprisingly accepted to be paid $1000 a week during the filming of Half Nelson.
Gosling was so desperate to take on a heartfelt and challenging role, that he agreed to a low compensation when signing on to the movie. Despite all this, his role of Dan Dunne did help him get nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 2006. If there is one thing for sure, it’s that Gosling has his eyes set on awards more than he does paychecks.
3. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips – $65,000
Barkhad Abdi is an American actor of Somalian descent who received his first-ever role in the movie Captain Phillips. His iconic role has quickly spruced up his career, but unfortunately, it hasn’t done much for his bank accounts. Despite the film’s budget of over $55 million, Abdi was only paid $65,000 for his work.
This amount was attributed to Abdi due to him having no prior acting experience, which is why he was paid the SAG minimum. While these are the standards in Hollywood, most people would agree that Abdi’s role was not a minor one, hence why he deserved more compensation. Abdi played the role of Abduwali Muse, the leader of a group of Somalian pirates. His performance was so spot-on that he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. Hopefully next time, he’ll get a large piece of the pie.
2. Chris Evans – Captain America – $300,000
Chris Evans is an American actor who has been in the spotlight for two decades. While he has played in countless movies, the actor was only awarded $300,000 for his role of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. As the years went by and Evans became an important asset to the Marvel team, he was eventually rightfully compensated for his upcoming movies.
It seems that Marvel is keen on paying first-time superhero actors $300,000 for their first big movie, only to pay them millions for their following ones. In the end, actors are often so desperate to get their own movie that they are willing to work for surprisingly low amounts. With time and experience, an actor’s worth goes up, and small wages like these are never heard of again.
1. Bill Murray – Rushmore – $9,000
Bill Murray is an actor who plays by his own rules, which is why he refuses to have an agent. While this may make his life easier, it sure makes it harder for directors to contact the actor when they have him in mind for a role in their movie. Funny enough, Murray is notorious for dodging phone calls from big producers and answering ones from nobodies.
When Murray was contacted by director Wes Anderson in 1998, he ended up accepting a small role in the movie Rushmore. Despite the fact that the actor was worth a lot of money at the time, Murray agreed to appear in the movie for only $9,000. While Murray might not be desperate for cash, he is desperate for originality and spontaneity, which is why you’ll often be shocked to find out he’s acting in a certain film.
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