Top 10 actors who were paid almost nothing for Hollywood roles

10 actors who were paid almost nothing for Hollywood roles
Author: Elen Nivrae from Paris, France

When we think of movies that critically and commercially do well, we often assume that the actors and the supporting actors must be paid a whopping amount for their roles. The case is the same when we think of an established actor.

But that is not always the case. Many times, behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, you’ll find low paid actors. It is not because they are poor actors. Sometimes, they are at the beginning of their careers, and sometimes, the movie budget is low.

We have mentioned the top 10 low paid actors in Hollywood paid very less for their roles.

Jonah Hill

You’d be surprised to find the name of Jonah Hill in the list of low-paid actors, but this true for the case of the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ This movie shows a movie in a supporting yet splendid performance. We know this movie is directed by the brilliant Martin Scorsese, who is a genius director.

When Hill was offered a role in the movie, he was a well-known comedian and earned a lot of money. He used to earn money in millions. The salary offered to him for this movie was $60,000, which was peanuts compared to what he was already earning.

But Jonah Hill accepted this not so generous offer and took the role the very same day of the offer. The movie was a huge success, and Hill’s performance was lauded. It also got him his second nomination for the Oscars. Guess some actors don’t want to pass a good role for less money.

Tom Cruise

This name is also not the one to be mentioned when we talk about low paid actors. Tom Cruise has established a reputation as a successful actor with big, commercially successful movies and franchises to his name. The success of his movies like Mission: Impossible series and others, is not hidden from anyone, for which he received millions of dollars.

But that is not the case with his movie Magnolia, for which he received only $100,000. This is nothing as compared to the scale of his salary at that time. But he was so impressed with the movie’s script that he let the money be and accepted the offer. This Paul Thomas Anderson directorial garnered him a Golden Globe award for his performance. One can say it was completely worth it.

Brad Pitt

In his initial days, Brad Pitt was offered only $6000 for his role in Thelma and Louise. Even though Pitt was one of the low paid actors, this movie proved to be a turning point for him. He received many offers for other movies, and eventually, you’ll never see his name in the list of low paid actors in Hollywood.

Ryan Gosling

Everybody knew Ryan Gosling’s name after the success of The Notebook, which garnered him not only fame but also money. So it is a bit surprising to know that Gosling would do a movie after it that will lead him to be in the list of low paid actors.

Ryan Gosling starred in the movie Half Nelson, a drama movie on a low budget. He only took $1000 a week for his role as a teacher. Even though the movie didn’t earn him money, it did earn him his first nomination for the Oscars.

Hilary Swank

The movie Boys Don’t Cry so beautiful, and so Hilary Swank’s acting in the movie, but the amount paid to her, not so much. Hilary Swank only received $3000 for her role in this movie, that it is too little and can just be called almost nothing; thus, she makes it to the list of low paid actors. But the money could be forgotten, if not forgiven, as she received an Oscar for her amazing performance and great offers.

Dustin Hoffman

Everybody knows about Dustin Hoffman’s role in The Graduate, and with the movie being such a commercial success, it may lead any to believe that Hoffman might have a very high amount paid for his role. But that is not true as he only received $17000 for his role. This amount can be called barely enough and lands him amongst low paid actors.

Jennifer Lawrence

The relatable and talented Jennifer Lawrence didn’t have the same amount of zeroes in her paycheck as she has now. When she was just a beginner in her acting career, she received just $3000 for her role in Winter’s Bone. As she is talented, her performance for wildly praised, even landing her an Oscar nomination. Even though she might have had a major cheap role, she is doing very well now.

Harrison Ford

Nobody could play Han Solo better than Harrison Ford and to think he didn’t accept the role because of the money. The offer was to him being paid $1000 a week, which was too low considering the movie’s scale. He accepted the offer in the end, and the rest is history. One could not imagine that a Stars Wars actor can be on the list of low-paid actors.

Jim Carrey

When a star like Jim Carrey, who is expected to demand a salary in millions for a role, said that he wouldn’t take $0 upfront, it came as a shock. It is true, though. He took $0 upfront for the movie Yes Man. He, instead, demanded a percentage of the box office revenue, 36.7% to be exact. Even though this was a risky move, it brought him about $35 million. He still makes it to low paid actors as technically he wasn’t paid and received the revenue.

Bill Murray

For his role in the Wes Anderson directorial movie Rushmore, Bill Murray only received $9000. But it was more his choice as he was already a successful actor and wanted to star in the said film and didn’t care about the money.


Some of the actors were once low paid actors in Hollywood and accepted a major cheap role even though they were not poor actors. It is also proved that some actors care more about the script and the role than the money. This is why some of the major names in Hollywood come under the low paid actors list.


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