From Jonah Hill to J.Lo: 29+ Low Paid Actors in Hollywood


| LAST UPDATE 10/20/2021

By Manny Ray

Life in the spotlight certainly has its perks - but that doesn't mean Hollywood's finest are always raking in the big bucks. From Star Wars to Thor, here are some of the low-paid salaries over the years.

30. Gal Gadot: $300,000

For Wonder Woman (2017)

This former pageant queen had practically given up on acting when she caught her big break: "a top secret role," as casting director Zac Snyder had teased. Safe to say, Gadot's life-changing audition led to a whole lot more than a stingy paycheck.

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Gal's time as Diana Prince morphed her into a star, taking her to places she always wondered about. Perhaps that's why we never expected her compensation to have been so, well, low. As CelebrityNetWorth put it, Gal's role earned her $300,000. Sound somewhat decent? Did we mention the movie earned over $800 million globally?

29. Julia Roberts: $300,000

For Pretty Woman (1990)

Her time working Sunset Boulevard's streets saw her struggling to make ends meet, but off-screen? Julia Roberts' bank account was even more alarming. Back in the '90s, when Pretty Woman was deemed an instant hit, its leading star wasn't raking in millions as a result. In fact, she hadn't even hit the 7-Figures.

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As several sources reported, the award-winning actress only walked away with about $300,000. But don't feel too bad for her. From her estimated $250,000,000 net worth (according to CelebrityNetWorth) to her endless Oscar wins, Miss Roberts has come a long way since wooing us as Vivian Ward.

28. Chris Evans: $300,000

For Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear red, white, and blue and have managed to secure an entire franchise under their belt. Of course, we're talking about Chris Evans, who has gone on to dominate the Marvel universe since making his debut. But that doesn't mean he was always reaping the rewards.

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As a matter of fact, he wasn't. Back in 2011, when Evans first introduced himself as Captain America, the Hollywood charmer was one of the least compensated stars of the Avengers family. Yes, really. According to Insider, the actor was paid a mere $300,000 for his starring role in Captain America: The First Avenger.

27. Dakota Johnson: $250,000

For Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Her paycheck might have been shockingly low, but there's no shade as far as this Fifty Shades of Grey star is concerned: Dakota Johnson's breakout role in the film franchise brought our Netflix & Chills to a new meaning. But the memorable scenes the movie called for didn't mean much when it came to the actress's payday.

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According to several reports, Johnson pocked a mere $250,000 for her debut as Anastasia Steele. But make no mistake about it - she's sleeping just fine at night. As CelebrityNetWorth revealed, the actress secured a 7-figure paycheck for the film's sequels.

26. Matthew McConaughey: $200,000

For Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

When Hollywood's golden boy signed on to star in Dallas Buyers Club, he wasn't doing it for the money. But don't quote us on that one. "Taking a year and a half off and saying no to things in some form or fashion made me a new good idea," McConaughey revealed of reaching his decision to join the 2013 drama.

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Sure enough, his attempt to steer away from his rom-com image did a whole lot more than that: 1 Oscar, $200,000 (as several sources reported), and endless praise later, the actor's lead role brought him G.O.A.T. status. And while his wallet probably wasn't too thrilled, kudos to McConaughey for putting mastery over money moves.

25. Orlando Bloom: $175,000

For The Lord of the Rings (2001)

Ask Orlando Bloom what he got from his time in Lord of the Rings, and it's actually quite simple: Nothing. "I got nothing," the actor joked to radio host Howard Stern. But don't worry, he's actually got no complaints. In fact, Bloom's got nothing but fond memories of the movie trilogy.

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"Listen, greatest gift of my life. Are you kidding me? I'd do it again for half the money," the star assured of his recurring role of "Legolas." Sure enough, despite the mere $175,000 paycheck it called for - as he himself revealed - Bloom's time dominating a bow and arrow was clearly priceless.

24. John Travolta: $150,000

For Pulp Fiction (1994)

From high-school drag racer to hit-man, is there anything this stud can't do? The Grease actor has been a hotshot for decades now - but that doesn't mean he always had the bank account to match. In fact, back in '94 when Travolta made his return to the big screen, he didn't cash in nearly as much as we thought.

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Despite his award-nominated role in this Quentin Tarantino classic, the actor was dealt a very unimpressive payday. According to several outlets, Travolta was paid only $150,000 for Pulp Fiction. Then again, not too shabby for a smooth-talking criminal. 

23. Chris Hemsworth: $150,000

For Thor (2011)

$150,000 for a man working a hammer is a nice chunk of change. But doing so in a Marvel blockbuster raking in hundreds of millions? That's seemingly unheard of. Unfortunately for the God of Thunder, that's exactly what his time in the film's first installment got him.

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According to Business Insider, Hemsworth accepted $150,000 to join the famous film franchise. And while that number might come as a shock to most of us, we should mention it got a whole lot larger by the time the sequels came rolling in: the actor is set to score $20 million from his time in 2022's Thor: Love & Thunder.

22. Robin Williams: $75,000

For Aladdin (1992)

How did Disney manage to swap one star's $8 million fee for a mere $75,000? It's actually quite simple: Robin Williams' decision to sign on to Aladdin had nothing to do with making money moves. "I'm doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition," the late actor had explained.

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Aladdin (1992) Walt Disney Pictures - IMDb

Unfortunately, though, this Disney saga didn't have a happy ending: despite agreeing to the $75k payout - as Business Insider reported - Williams was upset over his time voicing "Genie." As he put it, Disney had used his VIP status to market Aladdin. Nevertheless, the late actor's time in Hollywood will forever remain invaluable.

21. Barkhad Abdi: $65,000

For Captain Philips (2013)

Barkhad Abdi's rags-to-riches story is truly like no other. After fleeing his native country and setting sail for the States, the Somalian actor finally caught his big break. Unfortunately, while he left viewers and critics inspired, the Captain Phillips star didn't get much in the means of money.

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1 BAFTA win and 1 Academy Award nomination later, the rookie actor only walked home with about $65,000 - as several outlets reported. Allow us to put that into perspective for a second: the blockbuster raked in over $200 million at the global box office - making Abdi's payout (significantly) less than .1% of the film's earnings.

20. Jonah Hill: $60,000

For The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Just because he played a wealthy stockbroker on our screens doesn't mean he was living lavish off-screen. In fact, Jonah Hill's time in Wolf of Wall Street saw him pocket nothing more than minimum wage. But don't feel too bad for the guy - it was actually his idea.

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"I would sell my house and give him all my money to work for him," the actor explained of landing a chance to star in one of Martin Scorsese's films. Despite earning the SAG minimum of $60,000 (as several sources revealed), Hill's got no regrets about his Oscar-nominated role. "I would do it again in a second."

19. Jeff Daniels: $50,000

For Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Jeff Daniels was never supposed to star in Dumb and Dumber. As a matter fact, the studio never wanted him to land his infamous role. So much so, that they low-balled when it came to discussing the actor's salary. Safe to say, we all know how that story ends, though.

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Productions' attempts to sway the actor from the comedy actually backfired: not only did Daniels not want to pass up a shot alongside Jim Carrey, but he accepted their offer without hesitation - resulting in global acclaim and a mere $50,00 paycheck, as several sources revealed.

18. Tom Hanks: $50,000

For Toy Story (1995)

If talking toys sound unrealistic, wait until we reveal how much the famous face behind Woody pocketed. Sure, his role in the Toy Story franchise earned him global acclaim and endless spin-offs. But that doesn't mean he had the payday to show for it. At least as far as the first film is concerned.

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YouTube via Walt Disney Studios

According to IMDb, Hanks walked away with about $50,000 thanks to his legendary role in Toy Story. But trust us when we say the franchise has since made up for it. Not only did he earn $5 million for the sequel, but by the time Toy Story 3 came around, the comedian pocketed a cool $15 million.

17. Oprah: $35,000

For The Color Purple (1985)

Granted, she's now raking in about $300 million/year (as CelebrityNetWorth reported), but Oprah's bank account wasn't always so impressive. Shortly before becoming the queen of daytime TV, the talk-show legend pocketed a mere fraction of today's annual earnings.

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But that's because Winfrey had no idea what she was doing in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. No, really. "I didn't know what I was doing. Period," she joked to The Los Angeles Times. Safe to say, 1 Oscar nomination and $35,000 paycheck (as several sources revealed) later, a whole lot has changed.

16. Al Pacino: $35,000

For The Godfather (1972)

Thought Al Pacino's time in The Godfather was seamless? Try again. Not only did the legendary actor almost get fired - on 3 different occasions - but even he wasn't feeling too hot about his time as Don Corleone. "I didn't want me in the part," the actor confessed to The Washington Post.

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Clearly, the man is full of surprises. Not only did Pacino earn an Oscar nomination for his acclaimed role, but he earned a shockingly low paycheck doing so. According to CelebrityNetWorth, the actor walked away with about $35,000 from his time as a mob boss.

15. Dustin Hoffman: $17,000

For The Graduate (1967)

From selling toys at Macy's to working as an attendant at the New York Psychiatric Institute, Dustin Hoffman's rise to the top was years in the making. Sure enough, his starring role in 1967's The Graduate finally put his days as a struggling actor behind him.

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Well, sort of. Despite nabbing an award-nominated role, it looks like The Graduate's breakout star still had to work a 9-5 to pay the bills. As several sources revealed, the then-rookie star only earned about $17,000 for his debut on the big screen. Safe to say, he's since graduated onto bigger and better (had to).

14. Mel Gibson: $15,000

For Mad Max (1979)

Like many of our other stars, Mel Gibson started from the bottom. Then again, given his Oscar wins and millions in the bank, we certainly wouldn't know any better. But back in 1979, as the rising star snagged the lead role in Max Max, he was just getting started.

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Perhaps that's why his salary looked as small as it did. According to CelebrityNetWorth, Gibson earned a mere $15,000 from his breakout role. Pretty unimpressive for a blockbuster that morphed him into an international movie star, huh? Just like our next celebrity...

13. Harrison Ford: $10,000

For Star Wars (1977)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Harrison Ford walked home with very little after catching his big break. Despite his breakout role in the Star Wars franchise, the actor's debut as Hans Solo didn't exactly do much when it came to his savings account. And he wasn't too happy about it...

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"They said, '$1,000 a week.' And I said,' No! No," Ford (pictured above, right) recalled of being told about his stingy paycheck. Sure enough, though, someone must have twisted his arm (Princess Leia?) because Ford "said yes... eventually." And we're certainly glad he did.

12. Seann William Scott: $8,000

For American Pie (1999)

The 90s were truly a time to be alive. We had Brad Pitt getting caught up in fight clubs, Julia Roberts working Sunset Boulevard's streets - and Seann William Scott showing us the many uses of apple pie. Safe to say, the American Pie star's iconic role will live on in infamy. But just how much did it cost him?

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According to CelebrityNetWorth, not much. Despite the raunchy film morphing into a box-office hit, Scott was paid a mere $8,000 for his time as Stifler (or, should we say, the Stifmeister). Nonetheless, he's got nothing but love for his time menacing our screens. "I wouldn't be here... if it wasn't for that movie," he reflected.

11. Lindsay Lohan: $6,480

For The Canyons (2013)

We met her as a trouble-making twin, but she certainly didn't stay that way. Lohan's Parent Trap debut turned the child star into a household name, with more money (and peanut butter-dipped Oreos) than we could ever imagine. But the actress wasn't always raking in the big bucks.

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In fact, fast forward to 2013, and Lindsay's latest role earned her, well, pocket change. As several sources reported, Lohan pocketed about $100/day for her time in the independent drama, The Canyons. Then again, from her business ventures to her other noteworthy films, we'd say she's doing just fine.

10. Brad Pitt: $6,000

For Thelma & Louise (1991)

When a young Brad Pitt - cowboy hat in tow - wooed over Thelma in this 1991 classic, he went on to amaze so many other people in the process (including us). Sure enough, the actor's breakout role in Thelma & Louise officially put his name on the map.

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But that's exactly why the paycheck it once called for left us scratching our heads. Despite Pitt's infamous role as a young drifter, he only cashed in about $6,000 for his time as "JD." But given the fame his 7-minutes of screen time earned him, we're sure he's got no complaints.

9. Jennifer Lawrence: $3,000

For Winter's Bone (2010)

Long before she volunteered as tribute, Jennifer Lawrence was another teen with a dream of making it big. Lucky for her, by 2010, she was well on her way to doing just that. After nabbing a starring role in Winter's Bone, the 19-year-old actress would never be the same.

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Not only did the performance land J-Law her very first Oscar nod, but it paved the then-unknown actress' way in Hollywood. Perhaps that's why anyone who's ever tuned into the 2010 drama would probably be surprised to learn it only earned Lawrence $3,000/week - as CelebrityNetWorth reported.

8. Hilary Swank: $3,000

For Boys Don't Cry (1999)

A couple thousand bucks for an Academy-Award-winning role? Sure, that sounds almost unheard of. But for Hilary Swank, that's exactly what reality looked like back in 1999. Of course, we're talking about her time in Boys Don't Cry - a film so noteworthy for more reasons than one.

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"I had an Academy Award, no health insurance," the actress (pictured above, left) recently revealed on Netflix show Chelsea. Despite welcoming an Oscar and endless acclaim, 24-year-old Swank had earned so little from her role, she couldn't even afford to fill a prescription at the pharmacy. The irony...

7. Jon Heder: $1,000

For Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

A school filled with awkward, pre-pubescent teens is uncomfortable enough. But perhaps even more unsettling? Napoleon Dynamite's budget: He may have been at the top of the class on-screen, but off-screen, the comedy's star, Jon Heder, didn't quite place as high...

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As the actor himself revealed, he was only paid $1,000 for his famous role as "Napoleon." But don't worry, he managed to do a bit better for himself as the movie's success continued to grow. "They went a little bit higher," Heder hinted of renegotiating the contract.

6. Brad Pitt: $956

For Deadpool 2 (2018)

If Ryan Reynolds has taught us one thing from his time as a sharp-talking superhero? It's that all odds are off when it comes to the Deadpool franchise. Sure enough, we never expected to catch Brad Pitt pop in for a quick cameo during the comedy's sequel.

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YouTube via FilmArtsy via 20th Century Fox

But it was actually a no-brainer for Hollywood's golden boy to make a debut as "The Vanisher." In fact, as screenwriter Rhett Reese revealed, "Brad agreed to do it for scale [$956]." Well, that, and a cup of coffee... But not just any cup: "He said, 'I want this exact coffee from Starbucks, and, Ryan, I want you to deliver it to me.'"

5. Spencer Lacey Ganus: $926

For Frozen (2013)

Name not ringing a bell? How about "Elsa?" That's right, this child star is the voice behind one of Disney's most famous faces. But that doesn't mean she's been raking in the money ever since. In fact, ever since hearing just how little this Frozen star was compensated, we can't seem to let it go.

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YouTube via DisneyMusicVEVO

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, the teen was paid just $926 for her time as the young ice queen back in 2013. In other words, Ganus earned just one day of scale pay - about .000077% of the blockbuster's total earnings. Now that's cold...

4. John Candy: $414

For Home Alone (1990)

Remember when John Candy made a cameo as the self-titled "Polka King of the Midwest" in the first Home Alone? Yeah, well that was never supposed to happen. As a matter of fact, "None of that stuff was in the script," as director Chris Columbus recalled.

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YouTube via Screen Rant

The funeral parlor story? "That was all improvised at 4:30 in the morning. We could barely keep a straight face on set." Perhaps that's why the late Hollywood legend was paid a stingy $414 for his 1 day of filming, as several outlets reported. "It was a deal between him and John Hughes at the time," Columbus explained.

3. George Clooney: $3

For Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

Ever wonder how much it costs to write, direct and star in a blockbuster film? Well, maybe that depends on who we ask. As far as George Clooney is concerned, it shouldn't set one back too much. That is, unless they don't have 300 pennies to spare...

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That's exactly how much the legend charged to take the reigns on the 2005 drama - as Insider reported. But that's not all: Clooney went as far as to mortgage his house to do so. But hey, that's a small price to pay to give back to one's pops. "[It's] ultimately a love letter to my old man," he revealed of the film's inspiration.

2. Jim Carrey: $0

For Yes Man (2008)

He may have agreed to a $0 salary, but trust us when we say Jim Carrey knew exactly what he was doing when he said yes to Yes Man. As a matter of fact, his seemingly risky gamble led him to nab one of the largest paychecks in film history. How'd he manage to pull it off?

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Instead of getting paid upfront, the Hollywood icon opted for a different approach: 36.2% of the film's gross, something Carrey was sure would pay off. Sure enough, it did, and the wise guy walked away about $30 million richer (as several outlets revealed). Jim Carrey: 1. Warner Bros.: 0

1. Jennifer Lopez: $0

For The Hustlers (2019)

She may have told us love don't cost a thing, but apparently, neither does starring in and producing blockbuster movies. Back in 2019, when J.Lo made her debut in The Hustlers, there was actually no hustling on Lopez's end. In fact, the actress walked away with... nothing.

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"I did it for free and produced it," the actress revealed to GQ. But don't get it twisted - she couldn't be happier with how things panned out. "Like Jenny from the Block — I do what I love," Lopez assured of the bold decision. Talk about dedication...