Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman in 'Rushmore,' 1998 (Photo: Everett Collection)
You might think that big-name actors like George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, and even an "Avengers" star or two always bring in the big paychecks. However, sometimes a superstar will take a severe pay cut. Many don't make as much money much as you might expect.
Take Bill Murray, for example. The man's one of the most beloved actors of all time, a national treasure who fits right in with big studio movies like "Ghostbusters" as much as quirky indies like Jim Jarmusch's "The Limits of Control." One of his most popular roles is Herman Blume, a successful yet depressed businessman who becomes the unlikely best friend and romantic rival of a 15-year-old private school student in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore."
Murray was paid only $9,000 for this performance, a new book about director Anderson reveals (via Vulture). Actually, he would've ended up making negative $16,000, if his director had actually cashed the check Murray wrote to personally cover the $25,000 fee for a helicopter shot. But in the end, Murray did okay as he negotiated an undisclosed percentage of the film's profits — a pretty common occurrence in Hollywood these days.
Murray initially made next to nothing for "Rushmore," but it paid off in other ways: It earned him a Golden Globe nomination and won him a slew of awards, and began what would become a long and lucrative collaboration with Wes Anderson. In fact, one of the things we most look forward to with each new Anderson creation is seeing what kind of role he wrote for Murray.
Still, only $9K up front for the gig ... pretty low for the guy who played Dr. Peter Venkman. Here are some other rather shockingly low movie salaries from over the years.
1. Jim Carrey, $0 ("Yes Man")
Well, not exactly. Carrey starred in the 2008 comedy for no money up front but arranged to earn 36.2% of the profits. The film went on to earn over $223 million worldwide, and, well, do the math ... that's a lot more than the $20 million he got up front for "Cable Guy" (1996), "Liar Liar" (1997), and "Me, Myself & Irene" (2000), according to IMDb. A more stingy studio system — and Carrey's fading box-office clout — actually resulted in one of the star's biggest paydays.
2. George Clooney, $120,000 ("Good Night, and Good Luck")
The former "ER" doctor is arguably the biggest movie star working today. He's earned some big paychecks for big studio projects, including $10 million for "The Perfect Storm" (2000) and $20 million for "Ocean's Eleven" (2001). However, Clooney's all the classier for his willingness to fight (and sacrifice) for projects he believes in — according to The Hollywood Reporter, he took only $120K for writing, directing and starring in "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005), which earned six Oscar nominations, and $300,000 for his starring role in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" (2011), which earned five Oscar noms, including Best Actor.
3. Chris Evans, $2 million-$3 million ("Marvel's The Avengers")
It's rather odd that most of the stars of the most profitable film of 2012 (and currently the third highest-grossing movie of all time with more than $1.5 billion worldwide) didn't quite make the ultra-big bucks going in. True, Robert Downey Jr. made about $50 million for his third outing as Tony Stark, but Chris Evans made only between $2 million and $3 million, according to TheRichest.com. It's a big raise from his first "Captain America" gig, though — according to IMDb, Evans made only $300,000 for "The First Avenger." Come on, Marvel — the guy who played the Human Torch is worth a little more than that, right? (Maybe don't answer that.)
4. Ryan Gosling, $1,000/week ("Half Nelson")
"The Notebook" (2004) made over $115 million worldwide and quickly became one of the most popular romantic dramas of all time, thanks muchly in part to its swoon-worthy leading man, Ryan Gosling. However, just two years after that film's release, Gosling made a mere $1,000 per week for "Half Nelson" (2006), in which he played a drug-addicted junior high school teacher. But how's this for a raise — the very next year, he earned at least $1,000,000 for his role as an up-and-coming attorney in "Fracture" (2007), co-starring Anthony Hopkins.
5. Ethan Hawke, "Almost No Money Up Front" ("The Purge")
Hawke starred in producer Jason Blum's home invasion thriller for almost no money up front — and no frills, either. "There were no perks," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "No trailer, no driver, no BS, just a great role, a great director. Hell, on 'The Purge,' I slept on his couch the whole shoot." However, Hawke did the film for an undisclosed percentage of the profits, and as with most Blumhouse Productions, it paid off — the movie made over $87 million worldwide against a budget of $3 million.
Oh, Lindsay. She was poised for superstardom, and one could argue that she has reached that status, but for all the wrong reasons. According to IMDb, Lohan earned $1,000,000 for "Mean Girls" and $7,500,000 for both "Just My Luck" (2006) and "Georgia Rule" (2007). However, the hard-partying and troubled starlet is now something of a financial risk and reportedly made only $6,480 for Paul Schrader's micro-budgeted "The Canyons — though some outlets reported it was even lower at "$100 a day" (on what writer Brett Easton Ellis said was a 23-day shoot).
7. Robert Pattinson, $2 million ("Twilight")
The "Twilight" series ended up being a worldwide cash cow, but Summit played it relatively safe with the first installment, giving the actor who played Edward Cullen — the symbol of romantic perfection to millions of teenage girls around the globe — a mere $2 million for his maiden voyage. However, R.Pattz didn't get as much of a raise as you might expect as the series went along — for the two-part "Breaking Dawn" finale, he earned $12,500,000 up front as well as 7 percent of the gross per movie, according to TheRichest.com. Sheesh, he's practically in the poor house.
8. Brad Pitt, $6,000 ("Thelma and Louise")
Brad Pitt is one of the most famous and richest celebs in Hollywood, though he certainly started out small. Pitt recently earned $25 million up front (and an off-screen life partner in the form of Angelina Jolie) for his starring turn in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" (2005), but his breakout role — the handsome hitchhiker who gives Geena Davis the night of her life in Ridley Scott's "Thelma & Louise" — got him only 6 grand, according to IMDb. Pitt reunites with Scott 22 years later in this week's new release, "The Counselor," for which he probably got a little more than $6K.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Brad Pitt
- Bill Murray
- Jim Carrey
- George Clooney
- Angelina Jolie
- Wes Anderson