10 Actors Who Took a Paycut For Their Roles But Made Millions From Back-End Deals

Nov 01, 2023

By: Deep Das Barman

Sometimes Risk Pays Off and How!

There are times when actors choose to take little to no pay for their services if it's for a cause or as a goodwill gesture or when they sense a greater lucrative opportunity. Sometimes actors take a percentage of the movie's profits, a risky move, b...

1. Jon Heder: "Napoleon Dynamite"

Jon Heder was paid just $1000 for his role in the cult classic comedy “Napoleon Dynamite”.  The movie went on to become a box office hit earning millions. While the movie was made with a budget of just $400,000, it went on to rake in a whopping $46.1 million a...

2. Jim Carrey: "Yes Man"

Jim Carrey did not take any upfront payment for “Yes Man” and in exchange he took 36.2% of the back-end profits, as per Buzzfeed. Carrey who was making a return to comedy after a few years, had confidence in his ability to bring in audience to the theaters...

3. Ethan Hawke: "The Purge"

Ethan Hawke agreed to star in the horror film “The Purge” taking a massive paycut. The film was made with a tiny budget of $3 million but it turned out to be a great success with the audience. With Hawke and director James DeMonaco’s passionate work, the film ...

4. Cameron Diaz: "Bad Teacher"

While "Bad Teacher" wasn’t exactly a huge project of Cameron Diaz’s career, it certainly was one of the most high paying ones. While Diaz took a major paycut and reduced her fee to just $1 million for the film, she struck a lucrative back-end deal. “...

5. Tom Hanks: "Forrest Gump"

For the critically acclaimed film “Forrest Gump”, lead actor Tom Hanks reportedly waived his upfront salary. However, Hanks reportedly included a clause in his contract which would earn him a performance-based pay, meaning if the film turns out to be a hit, he...

6. Harrison Ford: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

Harrison Ford was reportedly semi-retired when he was approached to reprise his role as the famous Indiana Jones for the film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. As he agreed to take up on the role once again, Paramount was ready to give him ...

7. Jack Nicholson: "Batman"

Jack Nicholson cut a unique and highly lucrative deal to appear as The Joker in 1989 film “Batman”. While he slashed his upfront payment to $6 million which wasn’t too low, he demanded some inclusions in his contract. He got a percentage of the film’s profits,...

8. Hilary Swank: "Boys Don’t Cry"

Hilary Swank was paid just $75 per day or a total of $3000 for her work in the critically acclaimed film “Boys Don’t Cry”. During an appearance on the Netflix talk show “Chelsea”, Swank revealed that she did not have health insurance on the sets as the minimum...

9. Jamie Lee Curtis: "Halloween"

Jamie Lee Curtis, who was at the dawn of her acting career, had only appeared in a handful of TV shows before her big break. She was offered the lead role in the indie horror film, “Halloween”, which unexpectedly made her a breakout star in Hollywood. While th...

10. Sandra Bullock: "Gravity"

While Sandra Bullock did not let go of her upfront payment, she went on to earn even more with her lucrative back-end deal for the film “Gravity.” She pocketed a whopping $20 million for the role upfront, and she also negotiated a 15% cut of the studio’s p...