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Top 10 Actor Salary Controversies

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Written by Andrew Tejada Actors make a lot of money, there's no question about it, but when some actors make more than others, things start to look a little suspicious. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Actors Salary Controversies! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be the cast of "American Hustle", Michelle Williams in "All the Money in the World", or the cast of "Friends"? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Have an idea for our next video? Submit it on our suggest tool here: https://www.WatchMojo.commy/suggest.php
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These salary issues were too big to stay behind closed doors. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for Top 10 Actor Salary Controversies.

For this list, we're looking at the instances where an actor’s paycheck became news as big than the project they were working on.

#10: Not A Lot of Dough for Gadot

“Wonder Woman” (2017)


In 2017, Gal Gadot's fantastic performance in “Wonder Woman” made the film a critical and box office success. So when rumors emerged that Gadot was paid a mere $300,000 for the heroic role while Henry Cavill was paid $14 million to star in “Man of Steel”, fans were outraged. However, later reports found no proof that Cavill was paid that much to don the red cape for just one film. Although this controversy was based on an exaggeration, it brought attention to the gender pay gap issue in Hollywood. It also demonstrated that people are already willing to defend this powerful heroine.

#9: Strings Definitely Attached

“No Strings Attached” (2011)


This film a rom-com with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher as two characters who, equally, wanted to hook up without a relationship. Unfortunately, that equality didn’t seem to apply to their paychecks. In an interview with Marie Claire UK magazine, Portman announced that Kutcher had been paid three times more than she was to do the film. She called the difference between their earnings “crazy” and hinted that her story was part of a bigger Hollywood problem. Portman’s candid interview drew support from the Internet as well as her co-star Kutcher.

#8: The Unequal Pay Files

“The X-Files” (1993-2002; 2016-)


Although many things have changed for the “X-Files” since the ‘90s, the issue of equal pay seems to have stuck around. When the show first aired, Gillian Anderson had to fight to receive the same salary as her co-star David Duchovny, despite them both being lead characters. When Fox revived the series in 2016, she had to fight for fair pay again. Anderson told the Hollywood Reporter that Fox originally intended to pay her half of what Duchovny was getting to reprise her role. Fortunately, Anderson was able to negotiate her deal and the two stars were paid equally for the show’s return.

#7: Wright Wronged

“House of Cards” (2013-)


On “House of Cards”, Robin Wright plays the powerful and resourceful Claire Underwood. Wright brought those characteristics out when it came time to negotiate her salary. In 2016, Wright reported that co-star Kevin Spacey was making $80,000 more per episode than she was. She threatened to tell the media about the disparity unless they were both paid the same amount. As of May 2017, the pay gap was still there. Now that sexual misconduct accusations against Spacey have caused Netflix to drop him from “House of Cards”, Wright will become the show’s main lead. Whether she will be paid more remains to be seen.

#6: The Company Fights Back

“Three's Company” (1977-84)


Not every salary dispute ends well. Suzanne Somers learned this the hard way with her role as Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company”. Prior to season five, Somers attempted to raise her salary from $30,000 to $150,000 an episode. The increase would have given her the same pay as her co-star John Ritter. But when ABC countered offered a $5,000 raise instead, Somers refused to work for two episodes. The network retaliated by cutting her screen time, writing her off the show and eventually replacing her. Somers’ tumultuous exit also lead to a feud with her former co-star Joyce Dewitt that took decades to resolve.

#5: Leaving Hawaii

“Hawaii Five-0” (2010-)


This cop show returned for season 8 without two of its ensemble actors. Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park campaigned to get the same pay as their co-stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. CBS reportedly offered raises, but they still fell short of Kim and Park’s demands. As a result, the actors chose not to return, and their characters were written off the show. Their negotiations drew accusations that the pay gap was due to Kim and Park’s Asian heritage. Despite the controversial exit, Kim later posted a message encouraging fans of the show while mentioning that “the path to equality is rarely easy.”

#4: Child Labor

“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)


Actors Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali were thrust into the spotlight with their roles in “Slumdog Millionaire”. As the film became a smash hit, the parents of the young actors claimed the children had been underpaid for their work. Although the exact salary numbers were never made public, Ali and Ismail were still living in poor conditions after the film was released. Director Danny Boyle addressed the issue by announcing the Jai Ho Trust, a fund created to provide financial support for the education and housing of the film’s young stars.

#3: Not All the Money

“All The Money in the World” (2017)



After Kevin Spacey’s career was derailed by scandal, Director Ridley Scott decided to remove his performance in “All the Money In the World” and replace him with Christopher Plummer. Scott also asked actors back to the set to reshoot key scenes. While Michelle Williams received a working rate of $80 a day, Mark Wahlberg got $1.5 million dollars to return to set. Although it’s unclear if each actor’s contract affected these rates, the news of this gigantic gap between their fees drew major criticism. Wahlberg eventually donated his paycheck to Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, an organization created to fight for victims of sexual misconduct.

#2: The One With A Million Dollars

"Friends” (1994-2004)


When millions of people watch your show weekly, you gain a lot of leverage. In 2002, the sitcom “Friends” was a ratings powerhouse for NBC. The six lead cast members took advantage of this fact, walked into negotiations and asked for a payday of one million dollars each, per episode, to do another season. NBC granted the request and each actor took home a staggering $22 million for the season. And they also received syndication bonuses, which earn money for reruns. The cast’s astronomical asking price raised plenty of eyebrows, with even the show’s co-creator calling their paydays “ridiculous”.


Before we give our top pick a raise, here are some honorable mentions.

Valerie Hogan Killed Off Her Show Because of Contract Dispute
“The Hogan Family” (1986-91)

“Simpsons” Actors Take Pay Cut To Keep Show on the Air
“The Simpsons” (1989-)

Emmy Rossum Fights For Equal Pay On “Shameless”
“Shameless” (2011-)

#1: Hustled Out of Equal Pay

“American Hustle” (2013)


The 2014 hack of Sony Pictures uncovered a variety of shocking emails that exposed a dark side of Hollywood. In one exchange, it was revealed that both Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were given less of a share of the profits from “American Hustle” than the male leads The disparity caused the Academy Award-winning Lawrence to write an essay that discussed the gender pay gap and other issues that women face in Hollywood. The piece was praised by her co-star Amy Adams, along with many other celebrities and fans. Lawrence’s essay also brought much needed awareness to the persistent gender pay gap in Hollywood.



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