10 Underpaid Actors In Major Movie Roles
I'm sure a lot of us feel that movie stars are overpaid, and sure, that's true some of the time. For this installment though, we're taking a look at ten times this just wasn't the case, looking at 10 actors who were underpaid for major roles. For this list, we are omitting any actors who starred in a role for free.
Brad Pitt is famous for many different roles, in many different genres, in many different movies, making millions on each and everyone. But before he got to this point, back in 1991, a movie by the name of "Thelma & Louise" came out, grossing $45 million in total, paying the budding actor only $6,000 for his role in the movie. Luckily though, this turned out to be a great stepping stone for him, as he rapidly increased his salary with each proceeding movie. Everyone's got to get their start somewhere, right?
Robert Downey Jr.
American actor Robert Downey Jr., now legendarily inscribed as Marvels, Iron Man, is currently making upwards of $50 million a movie. But before all that, though, after his fall from grace due to a cocaine addiction, he started his path of Hollywood redemption at the low end. Robert made just $500,000 as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie, which grossed $318 million. Like most the others on our list though, this helped him get over the hump he was stuck in and brought him back into the limelight.
Jamie Dornan of Northern Ireland is an actor best known for his portrayal of Christian Gray, in "50 Shades of Gray". Oddly, it is the role he is best known for that landed him in our #3 spot; Fifty Shades grossed an astounding $166,000,000 while only paying the male lead of the movie a mere $250,000. This was the movie that shot him into fame and perhaps it should be considered, this was his first major role, so we don't blame the production company that low-balled him a bit, considering the doors they opened for the guy.
For Matthew McConaughey, things usually go alright, alright, alright, but sometimes, they go... well just on the other side of ok. In 2013, McConaughey, starred in the movie "Dallas Buyers Club" for a mere $200,000; not the worst on our list by any means, but considering he has been making at least $1,000,000 per film since 1997, paying $200,000 for an actor with Matthew's status for a movie that grossed $55 million seems a little on the frugal side to us.
Born April 10th, 1985, Somalian born native Barkhad Abdi and his family would move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, when he was 14 years old. He would begin his life in the states, working in mobile phone stores and as a chauffeur. It was during his time working as the latter, that he would be picked up and cast for his role in "Captain Phillips", portraying the character Muse. He would be payed $65,000 for his role, though Barkhad had no previous experience as an actor, nor did he have any intent to become one, he would still bring a demanding presence to the character, enough that it garnered him lots of recognition.
Ah yes, Jack Daniels, a smooth Tennessee whiskey aged four.. (No, Jeff.. It's Jeff... Jeff Daniels.) Jeff Daniels? Who the hell is Jeff Daniels? Well, that seemed to be the general opinion of the film of Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carrey and of course, Jeff Daniels. Whereas Jim Carrey would be paid $7,000,000 for starring in the movie, Jeff Daniels would receive payment in the sum of $50,000. Rumor has it that Daniels' agent told him it'd be great for his career to star next to Jim Carrey, and to take the role at any price. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, directors from the movie initially didn't even want Daniels in the role, stating: "Jeff Daniels was not the obvious choice because he hadn’t done any, you know, out and out comedies before that." "They said, 'Please, anyone but him. Get a comedic actor.' So they offered him $50,000 thinking he'll laugh at the insult and just go away. Welp, Daniels had another idea and took the money, landing him a role in one of the most iconic movies in American history.
Though he was co-star to Leonardo DiCaprio, in "Wolf of Wall Street", Jonah Hill would receive a considerably lesser payment; while Leo was paid some $25,000,000, Jonah Hill would be slapped in the face with $60,000. Considering that both actors were more than established at the time, it seems to be a massive stretch between pay rates. Ironically enough, Jonah Hill's movies have generated more money than DiCaprio's. So, why the big flux in payments, you ask? Jonah wanted something that DiCaprio has way more of, Awards. Oh, and the fact that Jonah has a man crush on producer and director Martin Scorsese, and wouldn't take no for an answer, ultimately taking a multi-million dollar paycut just to work for the guy. I'd say it worked out for the best, Jonah has some interesting stories he can write in his diary, and he was nominated for his 2nd Academy Award for his role.
Before he was a success in Hollywood, and before his motivational speech went viral across the internet, American born actor Shia LaBeouf, played in the movie "Disturbia", which grossed a little more than $80,00,000. For this, he would be paid the sum of $400,000, which hardly seems fair in comparison, considering he was cast to fill the main role. Even up through the first "Transformers" movie, which he made $750,000 on, he wouldn't break over the 1 million mark until "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", netting him $5,000,000... not too shabby of a recovery.
Christopher Robert Evans, from films such as "Marvels The Avengers" and "Captain America", makes millions for every movie he does, seemingly grossing more after each film; but when he first starred as his now famous role in "Captain America: The First Avenger", he made a mere $300,000 and I know, a lot of you don't think that is a mere sum by any means.. Neither do we; but considering the film grossing nearly $180,000,000, it would seem Mr. Evans was severely underpaid. It would seem Marvel studios agreed, as Evans would go on to make $2,000,000 and $7,000,000 in "The Avengers" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron", respectively.
Canadian actor Michael Cera makes our list not because of one movie, but for all of his movies together. Considering all of his movies combined have grossed nearly $500,000,000, Michael is said to be worth roughly $10 million. Pretty surprising considering he has built quite the name for himself, and is considered to be a box office draw, with many of the movies he is cast for seem to do very well for themselves; "Superbad", "This is the End" and "Juno" all exceeded the $100,000,000 mark alone. I mean, doesn't our favorite little awkwardly self-conscious kid deserve more?