The film industry has become a massive marketplace nowadays and this mostly involves major studios buying franchises and celebrities to ensure their success. This has made some actors quite rich because of the box office numbers their mere presence has caused. Daniel Craig became the highest-paid actor this year when Netflix bagged him for the sequels to Knives Out. Another thing that makes actors more expensive is their critical acclaim and their association with a specific genre. Often times this leads to celebs who have been given supporting roles and yet end up getting paid more than the actor playing the protagonist. Let’s take a look at the times when supporting actors were paid more than the actors playing the lead roles.
Sigourney Weaver has established herself as an actress known for her various sci-fi projects and her appearances in the lead roles. She worked with James Cameron in the hit sequel to Alien, Aliens and this was one of her biggest roles that are still counted by fans of such projects. The actress would reunite with the director for his ambitious project Avatar which became the highest-grossing movie of all time. Even though she had a smaller role compared to Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington, she ended up earning a whopping $11 million.
Batman and Robin is well known for being probably the worst Batman movie directed by Joel Schumacher. This was majorly due to the poorly written characters of the villain Mr. Freeze played by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Considering, Arnold was a big name in the ‘90s it won’t be surprising that he was paid more than George Clooney who played the titular character of Batman. The Terminator star ended up earning 20 times more than George Clooney for the movie.
Mark Hammill, Harrison Ford & Carrie Fisher
Star Wars: Force Awakens saw the franchise of Star Wars being revived with a whole new trilogy. The internet went crazy on the news of the return of the narrative that saw massive battles take place around the space with a lot of characters to explore. One of the biggest questions was if we were going to see the return original trio of the characters and this actually come true. All of them asked for a seven-figure salary and this included Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. Their request was accepted and the trio did get their seven-figure paychecks while the lead of the movie Daisy Ridley only earned around $100,000 – 200,000.
Fans of the MCU would remember that the franchise played a major role in getting Robert Downey Jr. to be one of the highest-paid actors in the world. His first appearance in the 2008 movie Iron Man saw him getting paid less than his co-star Terrence Howard. Terrence Howard earned a whopping $4.5 million for the movie while the Iron Man star only made a ninth of his co-actors paycheck.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. proved his worth later in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his appearance in the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie. The actor didn’t even have a major appearance but ended up making $10 million for his 10-minute appearance in the movie. Fans of the franchise won’t know but both Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland ended up making $500,000 for their debut MCU films.
A very popular misconception is the idea that the lead actor makes for the highest earner in the project. But often we will see some movies where it is quite certain that the supporting actor is actually a larger figure than any of the other actors appearing in the movie. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did not have quite an established career during Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon only made a paycheck of $650,000 even after being the co-writer for the project. His co-star Robin Williams ended up earning a $5 million paycheque.
Marlon Brando made quite the name for himself when he appeared in the first major Superman adaptation to the screen. Christopher Reeve didn’t really make much for the role even though he was the highlight of the movie. It is quite well known that Reeve only made $250,000 for playing the popular comic book character. At the same time, Marlon Brando ended up making $3.7 million with an additional 11.75% as backend earning for the 20-minute appearance he had in the movie. The actor made quite the name for the behind the screen drama that followed the movie.
In another case of Superman, Henry Cavill only made $300,000 for playing the hero in the 2013 film Man Of Steel. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering the actor was not quite popular at the time and the studio didn’t want to make a major bet on him. His co-star Amy Adams ended up making millions more than him because she had quite the reputation for her acting career.
So these were the times when supporting actors were paid more than the leading people.