TOP 10 actors who were paid pennies for roles in cult films

As known, actors are not the poorest people from a financial point of view. Their fees constantly break through the ceiling of common sense and make the viewer shake their heads in bewilderment. Everyone is free to decide for himself whether this state of affairs is fair, but today we want to talk on a different topic.

TOP 10 actors who were paid pennies for roles in cult films

Sometimes it happens that an actor is ready to act for relatively little money for personal reasons or in connection with certain circumstances. Moreover, this phenomenon is typical not only for old films, but also for the newest blockbusters, the budgets of which are inflated to the limit. Sometimes by donating royalties today, an actor can wake up famous tomorrowand such a prospect is undoubtedly worth the risk.

We have prepared a selection for you, where we will tell you about the famous masters of transformation, who agreed to a small salarybut brought commercial success to their films.

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson.  Mad Max (1979)

Movie: Mad Max

Genre: sci-fi, action

Release date: 1979

Today Mel Gibson 15,000 Australian dollarsprobably not even enough for seeds. However, in 1979, the aspiring actor considered such a fee to be a real success. However, with all the desire, they could not pay him more, because “Crazy Max” filmed literally on his knee – the budget of the picture was only $ 300,000

The shooting took place with difficulty – there was not enough cars, high-quality clothing, and there was no question of sane special effects. And we are talking about a fantastic film, and tapes of this genre are very dependent on the scenery.

Despite all the pitfalls, the picture brought order to its creators. 100 million… The incredible success had a beneficial effect on Gibson’s career, which was definitely noticed by influential directors. There is no doubt that Mel remained in the black – he received relatively good money for himself, and also gained fame, so it is a sin for him to take offense at a small fee.

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts.  Beautiful girl

Movie: Pretty Woman

Genre: melodrama

Date of issue: 1990

Have Julia Roberts the situation was simpler – she had already managed to establish herself by starring in several films. However, until recently, they did not want to take her for the role of a girl with limited social responsibility. Luckily for Julia, the other applicants turned down the job, and Roberts got a chance to prove herself. True, it was difficult to count on a really cool fee for an aspiring actress, so she only earned $ 300,000

It seems that the money is decent enough, given that Roberts was not a star of the first magnitude, but the deafening success of the picture made it possible to realize the insignificance of this fee. “Beautiful girl” earned order half a billion in green currency and today deservedly belongs to the classics of cinema.

The main reward for Julia was not money, but popularity. Today Roberts can indulge in any whims, the satisfaction of which lies in the financial plane and “Pretty Woman” is the direct reason for this success.



Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Movie: Thelma and Louise

Genre: Drama

Date of issue: 1991

It is today Pitt may receive Oscars for films of dubious quality, but at the dawn of his career, he knew how to rejoice in the small. In the picture Thelma and Louise which brought together 45 million (budget 16.5 million) Brad played a small role as a seducer and schemer, getting his job 6,000 $… Pitt can hardly consider this amount serious now, but he had a chance to cooperate with Ridley Scott, as well as more sophisticated colleagues in the acting workshop.

Thelma and Louise won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, which means that Pitt’s bet played to its fullest. The films awarded by the film academy are examined by specialists and directors under a microscope, and even a cameo role can turn out to be fateful.

I must say that Brad did not become famous overnight and for several years he was interrupted by not too significant roles, however, in the end he achieved insane popularity and recognition of his talent.

Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels.  Dumb and Dumber

Movie: Dumb and Dumber

Genre: Comedy

Date of issue: 1994

Dramatic talent Daniels was known for a long time, but taking him to one of the main roles in the film “Dumb and Dumber” the studio didn’t want to. Jeff became hostage to his role, and Farrelli brothers found themselves under pressure, they were literally forced to abandon the actor. When the directors could not be convinced, financial tricks went into business – Daniels was offered the minimum wage in the hope that the man’s pride would be hurt and he would leave the project.

The bet did not work – Jeff was eager to get the role and agreed to it for $ 50,000… For comparison, Daniels’ partner on the set, Jim carrey, put my order in my pocket 7 million… In the meantime, the film proved to be highly successful and collected quarter billion in American currency. Jeff has proven to skeptics that he is a multifaceted actor, capable of performing almost any task set by the director.

Daniels was a rather popular actor even before the cult project, but after the success of the film, his career received a new impetus, which allowed him to take part in many films that received recognition.


John Travolta

John Travolta.  Pulp Fiction

Movie: Pulp Fiction

Genre: Thriller

Date of issue: 1994

When Travolta got into “Pulp Fiction”, he was already an experienced and well-known actor. However, its popularity gradually declined, after “Grease” John starred in mid-range films and only dreamed of restarting his career. Charming Vincent Vega was remembered by the viewer and today it is obvious that without Travolta the film that we know and love would have existed in some other dimension.

With a fairly modest budget, the picture has earned fantastic 213 million… Travolta got a mere penny – $ 150,000, but again established himself as a talented actor.

John was not perceived as a contender for really serious roles, but he managed to show the versatility of his talent and achieved a well-deserved recognition. Today, Travolta’s filmography is teeming with masterpieces, and he himself can afford to act in any films, regardless of financial conditions.

Sean William Scott

Sean William Scott.  American Pie

Movie: American Pie

Genre: Comedy

Release date: 1999

Is it really possible today to imagine the legendary “American Pie” without a brilliant Steve Stifler? Franchise fans would certainly not agree to replace Sean William Scott in a cult comedy. Meanwhile, for a young guy, this was only the second serious work in the cinema and he definitely could not apply for a large fee. And here her role is far from the main one – a local bully who periodically mocks the central characters of the tape.

However, gradually Sean got used to the image of Stifler, began to improvise a lot and won the hearts of the audience with his incredible charm, which was impossible to hide behind the screen of the vile, but funny actions of the hero. American Pie became a cult band and hit the box office – 235 million… William Scott himself received only $ 8,000, but gained much more than money – the love of the audience.

Roles fell on Sean as if from a cornucopia, and his situation once again proved that acting in a successful film is much more important than getting good money and being forgotten.



Sean Astin

Sean Astin.  Lord of the Rings

Movie: Lord of the Rings

Genre: Fantasy

Release date: 2001

The emergence “Lord of the rings” had the effect of an exploding bomb. Fantasy lovers rushed to cinemas to watch the adventures of funny hobbits who will have to enter into an unequal battle with the forces of evil. In total, the cult trilogy has gathered order at the box office. 3 billion dollars and became one of the most commercially successful projects in history.

Of course, many good actors had to be brought in, each of whom demanded a substantial fee. And here Sean Astin did not ask for anything, he was a fan of the works Tolkien and was ready to sell his soul for the sake of participating in the project. Filmmakers with a trained eye identified a simpleton and offered him $ 250,000 for 3 films! Sean was grateful for one opportunity to act, truly money is not always a key factor for a person.

Since then, Astin has accumulated a sufficient number of roles, but filming in “The Lord of the Rings” has remained the main achievement in his career.

Jim carrey

Jim carrey.  Always say yes

Movie: Always Say Yes

Genre: Comedy

Release date: 2008

It’s no secret that Kerry – one of the most successful comedians of our time, his talent is admired by millions, and to revise pictures Jim – a sign of good taste. “Always say yes” – one of the best works of the actor, he took on it completely is free… Yes, indeed, Kerry refused his salary, but there was one important point in his contract – the actor could count on about one third of the final profit

Apparently, the filmmakers were not at all sure about the project, so they put their signatures on the contract. Jim, who could earn a good amount only in the case of a resounding success of the picture, gave himself up without a trace on the set and created a really vivid image of an unsociable credit manager. Film collected 223 million dollars and after all the required deductions, Kerry got his hands on the order 35,000,000 $ – crazy fee.

However, do not forget that Jim completely abandoned his salary and took a serious risk, since another actor in his place could well not pull this comedy.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.  50 shades of grey

Movie: 50 Shades of Gray

Genre: melodrama

Release date: 2015

Let’s say right away “50 shades of grey” – an excellent target, at which the viewer is not averse to throwing a few stinging phrases. However, the picture had good advertising, thanks to which it was possible to promote an openly average novel, the adaptation of which the filmmakers took up.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were one of the few who agreed to star in this production, and for relatively modest money – $ 250,000 to each. The release of the film was accompanied by a huge excitement, and viewers brought more than half a billion dollars.

Hoping to quickly make a sequel, the creators of the picture again decided to involve Dakota and Jamie in the work, but they already felt the taste of money and were not going to work under the old contract. The guys had to raise their salaries, although the next parts of the franchise were much less successful.


Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot.  Wonder Woman

Movie: Wonder Woman

Genre: comics

Release date: 2017

It would seem that with a budget of 150 million dollars, the creators of the picture “Wonder Woman” could offer their actors very attractive terms of cooperation. However, modern studios are not used to throwing money around. So Chris Evans got a penny for the tape “The first Avenger”, and now Gal Gadot has fallen victim to the greed of filmmakers.

The actress back in 2014 signed a not the most profitable contract, according to which she receives for each film of the company with her participation $ 300,000 – a truly meager fee considering the popularity of comic book adaptations and their budgets. Wonder Woman collected more at the box office 820 million

Maybe in the future Gal Gadot waiting for a more attractive contract or other roles that can bring her a fortune, but the studio’s zeal is really impressive. Now the guys from Warner Bros. it remains only to calculate the profit – they saved a lot on the cast.

If you like reading about the fates of great actors, then we recommend that you read about the fate of the actors of the original film Mortal Combat and the actors of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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