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15 Actors Who Earned Next to Nothing for their Roles in Successful Films

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | January 27, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | January 27, 2016 |


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George Clooney was paid only $1 for writing, directing, and starring in Good Night, and Good Luck (in fact, he mortgaged his house to help finance it). The film earned $54 million worldwide.

Jon Heder was initially paid only $1,000 for appearing in Napoleon Dynamite a role he took as a favor to his friend, Jared Hess. The film earned $46 million worldwide.

Seann William Scott was paid only $8,000 for appearing in the first American Pie film, which earned $235 million worldwide.

The cast of Paranormal Activity were originally paid $500 for their work in the film, which would earn $193 million worldwide.

Harrison Ford was apparently paid only $10,000 to appear in the first Star Wars film, which would earn $775 million worldwide.

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley earned only low six figures ($100K - $300K) for starring in the biggest box-office hit of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Hilary Swank earned $3,000 for her work in Boys Don’t Cry, and despite the risk of reducing her body fat to 7 percent, did not earn enough on the film to qualify for health insurance. The movie, however, did earn her an Oscar, and $11 million at the box office.

Mel Gibson was paid only $15,000 for his role in the first Mad Max, which earned $99 million (or $421 million adjusted).

Joshua Leonard, who starred in The Blair Witch Project, earned only $500 for that movie, though it made $248 million worldwide.

Jamie Lee Curtis earned only $8,000 for her role in Halloween, which earned $70 million at the box office in 1978.

Bill Murray was paid only $9,000 to star in Rushmore, which earned $17 million.

Patricia Arquette’s babysitter earned more than she did while filming Boyhood for Richard Linklater over the course of 12 years. The film made $25 million.

Ryan Gosling made only $1,000 a week for his work on Half Nelson. The film earned only $2.6 million domestic, but Gosling did get an Oscar nod.

Shia LaBeouf earned only half a million dollars for starring in 2007’s $800 million grossing Transformers.




Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.



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