15 Iconic Roles That Paid Jack Squat

These roles gave the actors a sense of accomplishment, and little else.
15 Iconic Roles That Paid Jack Squat

Money’s crazy in Hollywood. Acting obviously has a degree of difficulty to it, but ultimately the job of “standing around saying words someone else wrote” lets people command enormous, eye-watering fees. Millions upon millions of dollars change hands for the job of making pretend. 

It’s all so bonkers — $20 million here, $30 million here — that any non-stratospheric fee seems insane. When The Wolf of Wall Street came out, Jonah Hill made a very big deal of agreeing to do it for “only” $60,000 — he worked on it for four months, and 15k a month isn’t nothing. And you’re not paying bus fare to get in to work or making your own lunch or anything — that’s all provided. While the point he was making was that he really wanted to be in that film, when getting $15,000 per month to goof around with Leonardo DiCaprio seems like a hardship, shit’s all distorted.

But sometimes, actors playing enormously iconic roles do so for relative peanuts. They’re usually star-making roles, played by actors at the beginning of their careers unaware they’re making something that will become part of the fabric of cinema — shitloads of movies are made, with most people doing their absolute best, and most are just kind of adequate. You turn up for a few hundred bucks, say your lines and sometimes magic happens and you’re a fuckin’ star.

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