Seven Actors Who Took a Huge Pay Cut

June 8, 2015

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EE British Academy Film Awards - Nominees Party - Arrivals


Sometimes it really IS about the art.  Lots of actors take massive pay cuts to make movies they’re passionate about.  Here are seven actors who did.

Although we should probably mention that pretty much all of them were already rich, and in many cases, they made out on the back end, taking a percentage of the movies’ profits in exchange for their low up-front salaries.


JONAH HILL was paid $60,000 BEFORE TAXES for “Wolf of Wall Street”, because he wanted to work with Martin Scorsese that badly.  He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, so it was worth it.


Two years after turning down $15 million to star in a “Magnum P.I.” movie, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY was paid $200,000 for “Dallas Buyer’s Club”.  The gamble resulted in a Best Actor Oscar.


Maroon 5 singer ADAM LEVINE was paid NOTHING to star opposite Keira Knightley in “Begin Again”.  His philosophy was basically that he doesn’t NEED the money, so he can dip his toes into acting slowly, in small projects.


TOM CRUISE took almost no salary for “Mission:  Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.  But he made huge money off the back end, so this one’s kind of a cheat.


RYAN GOSLING was hot after “The Notebook” . . . but instead of cashing in, he took a salary of $1,000 a week to play a drug-addicted teacher in “Half Nelson”.  He got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor out of it.


ETHAN HAWKE took little salary and a percentage of the profits for the horror flick “The Purge”.  He even claimed he slept on the director’s couch because he didn’t have a trailer.  But the movie was enough of a hit that he made a few bucks.


GEORGE CLOONEY only took $120,000 to write, direct, and star in “Good Night, and Good Luck”.  And he was paid $300,000 for “The Descendants”.  Both movies scored multiple Oscar nominations.