When we talk about actors and what they’re paid we usually talk about the richest. It is pretty shocking to see how much they earn in such little time compared to the average working man. But that money isn’t being spread equally throughout Hollywood.
We talked before about the pay gap between actresses and actors who do equal work. But the disparities aren’t always about sexism. Sometimes actors who get shorted in pay are due to not being able to have much leverage while negotiating, other times it’s about underestimating how well a movie will do, and more. So which actors deserved to get a raise? Here are some we would go to bat for!
1. Sean Astin
Many actors sign on to do big movie franchises not because it’s particularly interesting work or because it is acclaimed. They do it for the money! Some actors like Keanu Reeves who was in The Matrix franchise made so much money that they are among the richest actors in Hollywood. So it’s it is very shocking to find out those who play a big part in franchises that are popular around the world don’t take home that much money.
Sean Astin played Sam the hobbit in all three movies for The Lord of the Rings. According to IMDb, the first movie made $315,544,750. So what did the actor who plays one of the iconic characters make? He made a measly $250,000 for the first movie. Of course after the movie proved to be a commercial success the whole cast got a pay bump for the future movies that led to a franchise worth a billion dollars, but we still are pretty shocked at how shorted the actor was for the first movie.
The comedian started off doing stand-up and made her way to television with her show, The Parkers. The show was pretty successful and lasted five seasons before ending. She then became critically acclaimed by starring in more dramatic movies. The height and essentially the end of her mainstream career was Precious.
In that movie she plays the abusive mother of a teenage daughter named Mary. She did such a good job playing the despicable character that she won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. For the award winning role she was only paid $50,000 which isn’t much considering what other actors are paid for their winning roles. However given the Oscar she should have gotten a pay bump. Instead it almost completely halted her career.
The actress expected to be offered more work and money after she won like her peers. Instead she found out she was allegedly blackballed for not campaigning for Precious by going to Cannes Film Festival because she wanted to use her time off to be with her family. She also allegedly wasn’t offered any money to cover the travel for her trip to Cannes.
Now she has only been able to do six projects since her win even though her lack of promotion obviously didn’t have much effect on Precious’ success. Given her talents, award, and the fact that other people in her field have survived not promoting their work before, we think she is definitely being underpaid. However unless someone more influential in the business is willing to invite her back in the circle this wrong probably won’t ever be made right.
3. Barkhad Abdi
It can be really tough when you’re not in a good position to negotiate. The actor was an outsider taking shifts at his brother’s mobile phone shop before he got his breakout role, Muse in Captain Philips. He played the lead Somali pirate opposite Tom Hanks who hijacks the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama. It’s definitely a dream opportunity to work with Tom Hanks in the first place for any actor let alone one who hasn’t ever been credited before, but it happened for Barkhad Abdi after he went to an open casting call which he found out about in an advertisement on tv.
He did so well in the role that he got nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. So how much did he get paid for the six-time Oscar nominated movie that also raked in $26,000,000 just on its opening weekend in the states? The actor was paid $65,000 for the role, according to CNN. On the other hand, Tom Hanks was paid $15,000,000 to play opposite him and didn’t get nominated for his work. That’s what having a big name and two Oscars will get you!
The good news is that he isn’t just a one hit wonder. The actor is still working, but he still has a long way to go to be a concrete leading man. His net worth is $100,000 according to Celebrity Net Worth so chances are his Oscar isn’t giving him as much of a pay boost like it does with his peers.
4. Jonah Hill
Actors with no experience aren’t the only ones who get shorted due to being in a movie with a big actor. Big name actors also happen to do it happily! The funny man has been forging his way into more critically acclaimed roles. In order to do this he had to eat some humble pie and take home a smaller paycheck.
He did this for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He played Donnie Azoff who is Jordan Belfort’s best friend. Belfort was played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Those two names are huge in the industry and pretty much screams “Oscar bait” so it makes sense that successful actors would be clamoring to work with them. So what was Jonah Hill willing to take for the chance to get the opportunity?
“They gave me the lowest amount of money possible,” he said on Howard Stern. “I said, ‘I will sign the paper tonight. Fax me the papers tonight.’ I want to sign them tonight before they change their mind.” He then continued, “I got to f—ing be in a Martin Scorsese movie!”
To be exact he was paid $60,000 for taking the supporting role, which is minimum wage for a seven-month shoot. The actor normally has a $20 million fee for his work, which is understandable given his past work being successful at the box office. He was also already nominated for an Oscar for his work in Moneyball.
In comparison to Hill’s $60,000 paycheck the movie’s gross earnings in the United States was $116,866,727. Also DiCaprio was paid $50 million so essentially he took home Jonah Hill’s money because there is a finite budget for the movie. That was also reportedly DiCaprio’s biggest paycheck.