The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is one of the most grueling, amazing things ever put to film. With a total budget of almost four hundred million dollars, a cast of literally hundreds, and more than a solid year of shooting (not counting endless reshoots), any actor or actress was going to make it big.
For some reason, however, Sean Astin – Samwise Gamgee – only took home $250,000 total after all was said and done. That’s about eighty-three thousand per movie shot in New Zealand for years when he could rarely travel home to see his family.
Mel Gibson in “Mad Max”
Nowadays, if he can get them, Mel Gibson brings in millions for his roles. His very first role was in the Australian post-apocalyptic action film “Mad Max,” and even though the film eventually brought in over a hundred million dollars, Gibson only earned fifteen thousand.
Of course, not only was it Gibson's first acting job, but it was also an exceptionally low-budget film, costing around four hundred thousand Australian dollars. That's about two million dollars in today's money, which is still a paltry amount for a movie with lots of car crashes and explosions. Gibson's stellar performance made him a star, and now he earns much more.
Amanda Seyfried in an Unknown Movie
The film has never been divulged, but when Amanda Seyfried found out that she was being paid a tenth of what her male co-star was making on a certain film, she was outraged. She told “The Sunday Times” that they were of even status, and she thinks that the producers took advantage of her easy-going nature.
Of course, she's never actually come out and said which movie this was, so it's impossible to verify what she says. Nobody knows the whole story, but if she is right, it's not great.
Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”
This legacy actor has been gracing our screens for generations, and since his very first role, audiences and critics knew he was something special. While that very first role wasn't “The Graduate,” it did come in the same year.
Sure, back in 1967, money was worth more, so amounts were smaller across the board, but Hoffman still only brought in seventeen thousand dollars for his time in the movie. Compared to the more than a hundred million dollars the film made, this is nothing. Of course, as little more than an amateur actor, Hoffman wasn't expecting much more. Don't worry about him; he's got plenty now.
Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy”
Things have changed a lot since the sixties. Jon Voight has openly said that he would sometimes take a job just for exposure. Well, one way or another, it worked. Voight has been a veteran actor for decades and still stuns with his performances.
He's now worth eight digits (recent guesses have it around fifty million dollars), but for the role that gave him his first big dose of fame, “Midnight Cowboy,” he earned minimum wage. “Midnight Cowboy” came out in the sixties, so you can imagine that it wasn't a lot of money.