10+ Famous Actors and Actresses That Had to Work for Pennies

Many people think that actors and actresses live in endless luxury and earn huge sums of money for their work. But sometimes, top stars work for very little money or even for free. Some of them wanted to take part in a project they liked for the story, and others had to agree to work for little money to be able to get multi-million-dollar projects later.

We at Bright Side did a little research and found out which celebrities worked for mere peanuts at some point in their career.

1. Jim Carrey — Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

If Jim Carrey is in a film, it usually means that you’re going to laugh a lot and have fun over the next 2 hours. At the beginning of his career, the famous comedian earned very little money. For example, for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, he got just $350,000. But the movie earned tons of money at the box office, and Carrey became very popular from it. So for his next projects, like Dumb and Dumber and The Cable Guy, he earned $7 million and $20 million, respectively.

2. Julia Roberts — Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza is the third film in Julia Roberts’ filmography. It was released 2 years before the legendary Pretty Woman (which didn’t earn her a lot of money either), and it’s about the dreams and lives of 3 waitresses in a cafe, Mystic Pizza. For the role in this romantic comedy, Roberts got a ridiculous $50,000. The actress also had to dye her light hair dark for this part.

3. Jennifer Lopez — Hustlers

The 2 previous actors earned very little money at the beginning of their careers, but Jennifer Lopez didn’t earn anything for a part she played as a well-established actress and singer. In 2019, she appeared in the movie, Hustlers, completely for free. Lopez was also the producer of this film, as she was really interested in the story. She also wanted to show that women could make good films and had a crew that was comprised of mostly women.

4. Jennifer Aniston — Friends (season 1)

Jennifer Aniston has been on the list of the highest-paid actresses many times. She was even in The Guinness Book of World Records for the $1 million she received for the finale episode of Friends. But during the production of the first season, she only got $22,500 per episode.

5. Oprah Winfrey — The Color Purple

The famous TV personality, Oprah Winfrey, appeared in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple in the role of Sophia. Oprah was worried that she might get fired, but the film earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and she acquired a little money — just $35,000.

6. Gal Gadot — Wonder Woman

The Israeli model, Gal Gadot, has been an actress since 2009, but a lot of people know her as Wonder Woman. The film earned more than $800 million, however, Gadot only got $300,000 for the role.

7. Chris Evans — Captain America: The First Avenger

Low salaries in superhero movies are not rare. Chris Evans earned the same amount of money for the leading role in Captain America: The First Avenger as Gal Gadot did in Wonder Woman. It is believed that in such projects, the brand is more important than the face of any actor. But, of course, after the success of the film, the actor’s income started to grow. For example, for the same role in Avengers: Endgame, Evans earned $15 million.

8. Daisy Ridley — Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

Daisy Ridley, who portrayed one of the main characters in Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, didn’t earn a lot of money either. When she was working on The Force Awakens, she had previously appeared in a horror film, Scrawl, along with some shorts. We don’t know the exact amount she earned for Star Wars, but it’s definitely somewhere in the $100,000 to $300,000 range.

9. John Boyega — Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

John Boyega, who worked with Daisy Ridley in 3 Star Wars films, got the same amount as Ridley for the role. But Harrison Ford, who is a much more famous and experienced actor, got around $10 million to $20 million.

10. Lindsay Lohan — The Canyons

Lindsay Lohan was a big star at the end of the ’90s through the 2000s with big roles in comedic films, like The Parent Trap and Mean Girls. These roles made her famous and quite rich. But several years later, her career went downhill and she took a break. In 2013, Lohan appeared in an independent movie, The Canyons, and earned just $6,000. The film was shot in 23 days. That same year, she got $200,000 for a scene in Scary Movie 5.

11. Ethan Hawke — The Purge

In 2013, the actor agreed to appear in a low-budget horror film, The Purge, almost for free. He remembers it like this: “No trailer, no driver. Just a great role and director.” The movie earned way more than it cost to make, so the actor got his share in the end.

12. Jon Voight — Midnight Cowboy

John Voight is not only the father of Angelina Jolie, but he’s also an established actor. In 1969, he was ready to appear in Midnight Cowboy for free. The actor hoped the film would reveal his acting talent and that’s exactly what happened. He earned just $17,000 for the role along with a bright future.

13. Casey Affleck — Manchester by the Sea

The younger brother of Ben Affleck won an Oscar for Best Actor in 2016 for his role in Manchester by the Sea. Affleck earned just $400,000 for the role, but the film earned $79 million and a lot of great reviews.

14. Kerry Washington — Scandal

It’s easy to assume that Kerry Washington got good money for her role in Scandal — she earned $250,000 per episode and $4.5 million for a season. But if you compare her income to her colleagues, it doesn’t look as impressive. For example, the actresses in Gilmore Girls earned $750,000 per episode.

Who is your favorite actor? What film of theirs do you like more than others, and why?

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Preview photo credit East News, IMP FEATURES/East News
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