These Actors Received Surprisingly Low Salaries For Their Roles

There are always talks about how the entertainment industry can be shady. Musicians and movie stars bring ideas to life and give the audience what they want. Sure, there is plenty that the professionals behind the scenes are responsible for, but they’re not the stars the audience came to see. Did you know that the voice of Elsa from the movie Frozen only received $926 for one day of shooting from a film that grossed $1.2 billion worldwide? That’s only one tragic instance, there are tons more…

Jonah Gets Wolfed

academy-award-nominee-jonah-hill
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The Wolf of Wall Street was one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most successful films to date. We’re sure he received a hefty payday, but we know for sure that his co-star Jonah Hill did not. It was his fault, he admits, as he was too eager for the role.

“They gave me the lowest amount of money possible,” Hill recalled. “I said, ‘I will sign the paper tonight. Fax me the papers tonight.’ I want to sign them tonight before they change their mind.” The lowest amount possible was $60,000. Had he been smarter about the situation, he could have walked away with a lot more.

Gal Gadot Gets Wonderfully Low-balled

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Clay Enos/TM & DC Comics
Clay Enos/TM & DC Comics

Let’s start this off with the fact that Ryan Reynolds received $2,700,000 upfront for playing Deadpool. It was a great film, don’t get us wrong, but Wonder Woman has been popular for decades. There’s no way Gal Gadot should have got a measly $300,000 for Wonder Woman.

It was a feature-length film that brought home $821 million in worldwide profits. The funny part is that Gadot received the same amount for her limited role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She’s undoubtedly due a considerable check for the sequel.

This Is Practically Robbery

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega star wars
Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Is Star Wars not one of the greatest movie franchises ever to exist? Whether you like the galactic sci-fi or not, the answer to that question will always be yes. When Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens came out, who could have guessed it would become an all-time domestic leader at the box office?

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega didn’t. Although they were aware of the franchise’s massive success, both of them only agreed to receive between $100,000 and $300,000. The studio probably had an idea that they shortchanged them.

Gosling Had No Choice

Ryan Gosling Half Nelson
ThinkFilm
ThinkFilm

Indie films are always a gamble until they aren’t, but when you have heartthrob Ryan Gosling as the star, then your chances of it being a success rises. Still, we suppose you can’t expect too much from indie which is why Gosling only made $1,000 a week for Half Nelson.

He did this film right after the monster success of The Notebook, so maybe he didn’t mind the low salary as much. He did go on to earn multi-million paydays for films like La La Land and Blade Runner 2049.

This next actress screamed her lungs out just to get shortchanged…

Curtis Screams For A Low Wage

Jamie Lee Curtis holds a knife in Halloween
Compass International Pictures
Compass International Pictures

Jamie Lee Curtis became a scream queen in 1978 after starring in the slasher film Halloween. Michael Myers went on a stabbing spree as Curtis tried to survive it all. The success of the film led to a handful more and even a 2018 reboot starring Curtis as well.

It was the first time people had a chance to meet Myers in 1978, so no one projected that it would earn tens of millions of dollars. That’s the biggest reason why she only got an $8,000 check.

Chris Evans Doesn’t Get Iron Man Money

Captain America Chris Evans
Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures
Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man is the leading star, but Captain America (Chris Evans) isn’t too far behind him. Evans’ character didn’t come around until Captain America: The First Avenger, three years after the first Iron Man, so he did have some catching up to do.

Still, Robert Downey Jr. was a convict right before signing on to be Iron Man and earned $500,000 for his first role. It puzzles us that Evans only received $300,000 for his first go-around.

Payment Was Ice Cold

Spencer Lacey Ganus $926 for Frozen
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Frozen is the highest grossing animated film worldwide. It currently sits at number 14 on that list and is at least five slots ahead of the next closest animation film (Minions). Once again, Disney strikes gold but failed to properly pay the star.

Spencer Lacey Ganus was only 15 when she did the voice of Elsa in Frozen. Her pay was $926 for one day of shooting. What’s worse is that she only gained $10,000 in residual checks after the movie aired according to TMZ.

Before The Huge Success

 Oprah Winfrey on the set of
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

There was a point when Oprah Winfrey wasn’t the leading figure in daytime TV. Before she was giving everyone in the audience a car, she was a struggling actress, not making a ton of money. It was around this time that Steven Spielberg offered her $35,000 for the 1986 classic, The Color Purple.

Being who she is now, Winfrey wouldn’t have accepted that amount. The Mogul has a net worth of over a billion, and would probably work for free before taking such a small amount for a role.

Get It Together Heder!

Jon Heder only paid $1,000
Business Wire via Getty Images
Business Wire via Getty Images

Jon Heder’s breakout film was the 2004 comedy, Napoleon Dynamite. The hilarious movie ended up winning some awards and gained higher praise from audiences than initially expected, which is fantastic for everyone involved, except Heder.

The star decided to play the character as a favor to his friend and the director, Jared Hess. That means he only received $1,000 out the gate. Later, he renegotiated after seeing the film’s success. That’s why you should always believe in what you bring to the table instead of having to wait for results.

Up next, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars only gets three zeros on his check…

The Early Days For Pitt

Brad Pitt only earned $9,000
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

Not every major actor or actress gets to make the big bucks at the start of their career. We’ve showcased that with the Star Wars characters, even though the franchise is highly profitable. You’ve got to show your worth first, and that’s what Brad Pitt did for his part in Thelma and Louise.

The multimillion-dollar contracts didn’t arrive until later for Pitt. This Ridley Scott film is one of his first roles, and he only made $6,000 from it.

Pay The Price To Be Tom Hanks’ Costar

Captain Phillips
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

The 2013 hit film Captain Phillips had many people saying “I’m the captain now.” That quote comes from the movie’s standout dialogue between Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. At the time, Abdi was pretty much unknown in Hollywood, but that didn’t stop him from giving the people a flawless performance.

Still, Abdi didn’t get handed as much money as the film’s star. Hanks got a $50 million payout for Captain Phillips, whereas Abdi only got $65,000 for his job which is terrible by comparison.

Ford Couldn’t Get More?

Harrison Ford made only $10,000
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Another Star Wars heist makes an appearance, but this time it’s a blast from the past. Harrison Ford is one of the centerpieces for the whole Star Wars franchise, as he’s a compelling reason why fans like watching the movies. He wasn’t always that big of a star, especially before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

For that movie, Ford only made $10,000 for his part as Han Solo. Granted, that was the first movie to kick things off, but he had a few titles under his belt up to that point. Enough that he could have negotiated a better deal.

Getting Less Than Her Peers

Kerry Washington on Scandal
ABC Studios/Shondaland/Disney–ABC Domestic Television
ABC Studios/Shondaland/Disney–ABC Domestic Television

ABC Thursday nights feature some of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of the last decade. At one point, three series came on one after another. Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder were all at the forefront. Then Scandal ended, but the other two still carry on.

Kerry Washington made Scandal what it was in part by stellar writing from Shonda Rhimes. Still, the leader of the crisis management team only earned $250,000 per episode. This sounds like a ton, but Gilmore Girl’s actress Lauren Graham made $750,000 while Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) takes home $400,000 each episode.

The Pretty Woman Gets The Short End Of The Stick

Julia Roberts $300,000 for Pretty Woman
Buena Vista/Getty Images
Buena Vista/Getty Images

Pretty Woman is a classic from the ’90s starring Julia Roberts. The film remains a fan favorite decades later and is probably Roberts’ most famous role, still.

While Roberts did her part in making Pretty Woman a massive hit, she only earned $300,000 for her role. This is low in comparison to her costar Richard Gere, who reportedly took home millions for his role in the same film. Did Roberts get the short end of the stick? We believe so, but she did go on to become one of the highest paid actresses in the country.

The Canyons Payday Wasn’t Much

Lindsay Lohan the canyons
MovieStillsDB/zs93
MovieStillsDB/zs93

It appears as though Lindsay Lohan has been through it all in her career. After starting the business at a young age, Lohan has seen the highs of success as well as career lows. In her case, the bad might outweigh the good.

Due to her troubling past, her paychecks for any new films might not be the same as they once were. Her 2013 thriller The Canyons is a prime example of this. Lohan only pocketed $7,000 for this role. Oprah Winfrey gave her more for a docuseries.

Up next, this funny guy placed the ultimate bet on himself, but did it pay off?…

Betting On Himself

Jim Carrey in Yes Man
MovieStillsDB/xpr_eito
MovieStillsDB/xpr_eito

In his prime, Jim Carrey could earn a $20 million paycheck. He’s one of the funniest dudes to grace a screen, but new faces come, and some lose their luster. Later in his career, Carrey’s movies started to become hit-or-misses.

For Yes Man, Carrey accepted zero dollars upfront. Instead, he agreed to a deal of receiving 36.2 percent of the movie’s profits. A bold move for Carrey because this movie could have easily failed. In the end, the gross was $220 million, so he made a nice $35 million.

Travolta Pays Dues

John Travolta pulp fiction
MovieStillsDB/barefootmk
MovieStillsDB/barefootmk

John Travolta’s salary has seen a few ups and downs over the years. The star once made a cool $14 million for Hairspray and another $20 million for Swordfish. Those are two of his most famous movies, so it makes sense, but what about Pulp Fiction?

Around the time of Pulp Fiction, Travolta’s career was struggling on the balance beam and needed to get sturdy again. That’s why he accepted a $150,000 check. It seems blasphemous now seeing how successful that movie was.

No Large Payout For First 50 Shades

Jamie Dornan in the first Fifty Shades
Michael De Luca Productions/Universal Pictures
Michael De Luca Productions/Universal Pictures

50 Shades of Grey was one of the biggest phenomenons in the past decade. Readers of the books experienced first-hand how wild the stories from that series can be before seeing them unravel in theaters. When it was time to cast Christian Grey, producers didn’t offer that much.

First, they tried to get Charlie Hunnam to play the part, but he turned down their low offer. That’s when Jamie Dornan accepted the $100,000 for the first movie. The filmmakers didn’t want him to leave, so they gave him $6.92 million for the next two films.

Voicing A Turtle Didn’t Pay Well

Corey Feldman earned just $1,500
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Corey Feldman is a familiar face that you probably recall from the ’80s. After that decade, he pretty much became washed up and struggled to find decent work. That’s when the turtles came around.

Not just any turtles, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles needed voice actors for the 1990 movie. Feldman did the voice of the purple masked warrior, Donatello, but only received $1,500 for it! That’s low for anyone, not just Feldman.

That’s Not Enough For Their Scares!

paranormal-activity each cast member was initially paid a mere $500 for their work
Dreamworks Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Dreamworks Pictures, Paramount Pictures

Paranormal Activity wasn’t the first film of it’s kind. The Blair Witch Project took the idea and ran with it almost a decade earlier. Still, the former was a sweet success as it brought in nearly $200 worldwide at the box office. The homemade film earned a ton, but the people involved didn’t.

The budget for this film was probably the lowest ever made. Each person involved only initially only received a measly $500 for their time. They were almost scared to death, and that’s all they get?