My brain hurts when I see the crazy amounts of money actors make in films. I can understand why certain actors get paid impressive amounts, whether it's because of their intense skills or simply the fact that they can bring in a huge audience, I still find myself scratching my head, as they aren't exactly curing cancer or anything like that.
Below is a list of ten actors who were surprisingly overpaid or underpaid for their various roles in film.
Highest Paid Actors
1. Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds (2005)
For War of the Worlds to be made in record time, Cruise decided to forgo any salary in order to receive the green light for the $132 million-budgeted movie and decided he'd rather take 20% of the movie’s profits.
This move definitely more than paid off: War of the Worlds took $591 million worldwide and over $110 million on video.
This is considered the biggest payday of Tom Cruise’s career, not including the Mission: Impossible franchise, as well as the second-highest of his entire career. The actor banked around $100 million from War of the Worlds, which is absolutely astounding.
2. Mel Gibson in The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Mel Gibson normally makes around $20 million per movie. His true grand success, however, came as the producer, writer, and director of The Passion of the Christ.
Due to its controversial subject matter, no major studio was willing to finance the movie. Gibson decided to fund the $45 million budget and marketing costs himself with his Icon Productions company, and he also self-distributed the movie. The controversy surrounding the film was the exact quality of the film that drew a huge audience. The movie made $83.8 million in its opening weekend, and later became the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time with over $370 million. Worldwide, the movie grossed $611.9 million, even with the harsh criticism.
It is estimated that the movie earned Gibson well over $300 million. If Mel is adopting any children, let him know that this young lady with student loans is looking for a rich father.
3. Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers (2012)
Robert Downey Jr.'s career had begun to spiral before he landed the role of Tony Stark in The Avengers. He was rewarded a salary of only $500,000, and his agents secured him a deal so that he would receive a percentage of the profits on the entire series.
Although Downing was only onscreen for a little over 37 minutes, the film made record profits with a $207.4 million and eventually a worldwide total of $1.5 billion. Let's just say Downey's agents are freakin' geniuses, as Downey made a ridiculous $50 million off the film in total just off the first film alone.
4. Will Smith in Men in Black 3 (2012)
Men in Black 3 might have been like a sponge (filled with plot holes left and right), but it still grossed $625 million worldwide.
Beside his standard $20 million salary, the actor also got a percentage of the theatrical and home video gross, making his total earnings an estimated $100 million.
5. Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan was a nobody when he contacted Bruce Willis, one of the biggest stars in the industry, to act in his mid-budget film The Sixth Sense.
Willis' contract gave him a fee of $14 million and 17% of the film's profits, rather than his standard $20 million salary. It massed $675.8 million at the box office. Both his salary and profit participation deal combined gave the actor an estimated $120m from the project, a tiny little bit more than the $150,000 paid to Academy Award-nominated co-star Haley Joel Osment.
6. Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise (1991)
While Pitt makes an annual salary estimated around $23 million, he only made $6,000 as sexy hitchhiker J.D. in the classic film Thelma & Louise. While this was his first role that really launched his career, it is wild to think that the famous Brad Pitt ever made anything less than $20 million in a film.
7. Jonah Hill in Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Jonah Hill was so desperate to work with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street, that he took $60,000 for seven months of shooting.
"They gave me the lowest amount of money possible, that was their offer. I said, 'I will sign the paper tonight. Fax me the papers tonight.' I want to sign them tonight before they change their mind. I said I want to sign them before I go to sleep tonight so they legally can't change their mind."
Jonah Hill isn't about the money, as he cares more about covering the basics of living. However, after appearing in this film and being nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Donnie Azoff, I doubt he's going to be underpaid again.
8. Shia LaBeouf in Transformers (2007)
Shia LaBeouf only made $500,000 off of the first Transformers film, even though the film made $320 million overall. It is surprising, as he seems like the kind of successful actor that would make about $20 million per film.
9. Robert Pattinson in the Twilight series (2008-2012)
We all know Robert Pattinson is incredibly bankable, as many girls swooned over him as the sexy Cedric Diggory before he became the sparkling vampire Edward Cullen.
The actor only made $2 million for his role as Edward in the first Twilight film, which made over $190 million in just the U.S. alone.
10. Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film made over $300 million in the U.S. alone, but Depp was only paid $10 million to portray Captain Jack Sparrow, a character that not just any run-of-the-mill actor could play in the same way Depp does.
Casting Depp in your film guarantees at least $100 million, so in retrospect, $10 million seems a little low in my opinion.
Bonus: Every Woman Who Has Ever Appeared in Any Film
In case you haven't noticed a single female included in this list and you were wondering why, women are significantly underpaid in this industry compared to their male counterparts. The male actors on Forbes’ list of highest-paid actors earn more than two and a half times as much as the women featured. In Hollywood, women are earning only forty cents to a man’s dollar.
It's high time we do something about this.
While I have insane loans looming over my head, these actors are still enjoying the crazy amounts of money they are making, whether they were paid handsomely for a film, or even given not as much as you'd expect in others.
Again, if any of these actors are adopting, consider me! I promise I'll make an excellent daughter or granddaughter.