When Martin Scorsese offered Hill a role in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Hill was already a famous comedian earning millions. And he was offered $60,000! But Jonah Hill did not even negotiate, signing the papers on the same day. The role brought him his second Oscar nomination. By the way, Leonardo DiCaprio received $25 million for his role in the film.
$100,000 is a salary that can hardly be called impressive for an actor who has already received tens of millions of dollars for work on films like Mission: Impossible (1996), Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), and Jerry Maguire (1996). However, Tom Cruise was so impressed by the script of Magnolia (1999) that he didn’t care about the money and accepted the offer of director Paul Thomas Anderson. Subsequently, Cruise received a Golden Globe for his role in this film.
The role in Thelma and Louise (1991) directed by Ridley Scott was Brad Pitt’s first big step on his way to dazzling success: thanks to this part, Pitt was noticed in Hollywood. And the fact that the actor received only $6,000 for his work was not a problem as he soon took revenge. For example, Pitt’s pay for his role in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) was $30 million.
After the success of The Notebook (2004), which earned Gosling a lot of money, the actor suddenly agreed to star in the low-budget drama Half Nelson (2006) for some $1,000 a week. Not for nothing, as it turned out: for the role of a teacher in this film, Gosling received his first Oscar nomination.
The creators of Boys Don’t Cry (1999) valued Hilary Swank’s thoughtful acting at $3,000, an amount so meager it was not enough to get medical insurance. But all the hardships were not in vain: for this brilliantly performed role Swank received an Oscar, and her payment for her next film, The Affair of the Necklace (2001), was already $3 million.
The Graduate (1967) is to this day considered one of the most commercially successful movies. However, Dustin Hoffman was not able to feel this success, for his pay was $17,000 — barely enough to pay off his debt. But the story of seductive Mrs. Robinson helped Hoffman’s career take off. For example, for his participation in Papillon (1973), the actor received $1.25 million.
For her role in the drama Winter’s Bone (2010), beginning actress Jennifer Lawrence received only $3,000. But her acting was highly appreciated by critics, and Lawrence got an Oscar nomination. Her career was pushed forward, and with each new role the amount in her bank account acquired more zeroes. For example, for her work in Passengers (2016), Lawrence received $20 million.
Rumor has it that Harrison Ford nearly rejected the offer to play Han Solo because for a week of work in the first Star Wars (1977) he was offered $1,000. We all know he accepted the part in the end. This earned him $10,000. But over time, Ford’s earnings grew significantly: for his work in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), he received $500,000, and in Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) — $25 million.
The top Hollywood actor surprised his colleagues when he agreed to star in the comedy Yes Man (2008) for $0 up front. Instead of a prepayment, Jim demanded 36.7% of the box office revenue. Fortunately for the actor, the comedy was commercially successful and brought Carrey some $35 million. So Carrey lucked out just like his character, simply saying "yes" to a seemingly dubious proposal.
Bill Murray was so eager to star in Rushmore (1998) directed by Wes Anderson, that he accepted a salary of $9,000. Murray was already very successful by then. For example, he earned $10 million for starring in Groundhog Day (1993). What is even more amazing is that Murray wrote Anderson a check for $25,000 when the studio didn’t want to sponsor a helicopter needed for filming.