There’s plenty of money going around in Hollywood, but it tends to wind up in a few very deep pockets. With major stars commanding off-the-charts salaries, some co-stars wind up feeling embarrassingly underpaid. Studios aren’t always transparent about movie star paydays, but here are some of the most extreme actor pay gaps on record.
13 times an actor got paid WAY more than their costar
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber)During the casting process on Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey became a major star thanks to the surprise success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, allowing him to negotiate his price up from $400,000 to $7 million. Making Jeff Daniels’ agent look somewhat dumb – and dumber than Carrey’s – the actor was paid a mere $50,000.New Line
New LineWith a going rate of roughly $20 million, Tom Hanks was undoubtedly paid far more than his Captain Phillips co-star, Barkhad Abdi. Given just $65,000 to play Phillips’ adversary in the film, Abdi struggled with financial instability… while out campaigning for an Oscar.Sony
Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey (A Time to Kill)When A Time to Kill arrived in theatres, Matthew McConaughey’s only real claim to fame was Dazed and Confused’s Wooderson, a character still several years away from getting his due. As a result, his salary of $250,000 was dwarfed by the $8 million received by Sandra Bullock, who was fresh off the success of Speed and While You Were Sleeping.Warner Bros.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (Far and Away)When Tom Cruise co-starred with the little known Nicole Kidman in Days of Thunder, it made sense that he would out-earn her by a significant margin. But in spite of their marriage and a sharp spike in Kidman’s fame, her salary was less than two percent of her husband’s $13 million on Far and Away.Universal
Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct)When Basic Instinct became one of 1992’s biggest hits, nobody benefited more than Sharon Stone, but you’d never guess this from her paycheque. While Michael Douglas earned a whopping $15 million for the film, Stone was paid a measly $500,000, even after co-starring in director Paul Verhoeven’s previous blockbuster (Total Recall) two years earlier.Alliance
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman)In recent years, Richard Gere has been very clear that he made Pretty Woman for the money. Whatever he was paid, it was significantly more than co-star Julia Roberts, whose $300,000 salary is a fraction of her current going rate – but 100 times more than Vivian Ward earned for her weekend with Edward Lewis.Disney
Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman (Closer)The tables were turned on 2004’s Closer. While Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman played roles of equal size, Roberts’ salary was 20 times greater than the $1 million paid to her co-star. In the wake of this discrepancy, the younger actress had a few consolation prizes, in the form of an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe.Sony
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon 4)The Lethal Weapon series is arguably the most successful buddy movie franchise of all time, but Mel Gibson and Danny Glover might not have been buddies after their deals were signed for the fourth installment. While their characters are roughly equally weighted, Gibson earned $18 million more than his co-star.Warner Bros.
Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix (Signs)Never one to shy away from a gigantic payday, Gibson earned $25 million for 2002’s Signs. While Joaquin Phoenix was fresh off an Oscar nomination for Gladiator, he earned just four percent of his co-star’s salary. Disney
John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix (Ladder 49)In 2004’s Ladder 49, Phoenix played a firefighter, but he was burned once again. Creating real doubt about his agent’s negotiating skills, Phoenix was paid $850,000 to star in the film, while John Travolta earned $20 million for a far less substantial role.Disney
Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels)As private investigators in Charlie’s Angels, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu may have been equal partners, but their salaries were anything but. Diaz’s performance might not have been 12 times better than Liu’s, but her salary ($12 million) was. Sony
Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)Ghosts aren’t the only aspect of The Sixth Sense that’s a little creepy. No less disturbing is the decision to pay the film’s star, 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment, exactly one percent of Bruce Willis’ $14 million salary. Disney
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)Even in the wake of Jonah Hill’s Oscar nomination for 2011’s Moneyball, some were surprised that the comic actor landed a crucial role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. But whereas Leonardo DiCaprio was paid a hefty $10 million to star in that film, Hill was given a piddly $60,000, just enough to cover the limo and tuxedo when he earned his second Oscar nomination for the film.Paramount