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These A-List Celebrities Got a Surprisingly Low Paycheck to Play these Career-Defining Roles

Being a movie star is often equated with multimillion-dollar paychecks. That’s certainly true of A-list celebrities who have proven they can draw crowds to the box office.

But did you know that some of your favorite actors and actresses have forgone big paydays just to play certain roles? Find out the reason why these movie stars accepted measly paychecks for film projects.

Hilary Swank

Tinseltown/Shutterstock: Swank has earned two best actress awards at the Oscars so far

Hilary Swank was not really a newcomer in Hollywood when she accepted to play the lead in the 1999 film ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Safe to say, she could have negotiated to be paid a handsome sum for the challenging role of playing a trans man.

Instead, she only received $3,000 for the film and recalled that the amount wasn’t even enough to get health insurance. Things took a turn for the better though as Swank ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for the film further cementing her status in Hollywood.

Bill Murray

When Bill Murray was tapped to star in Wes Anderson’s 1998 film ‘Rushmore’, he was already a household name. So, it was a surprise when it was revealed years later that he only earned $9,000 for his work.

While that was a surprisingly low paycheck he received, the film initiated a long time creative partnership between Murray and Anderson. The comedic actor has starred in a total of eight films under Anderson’s direction.

Brad Pitt

Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock: Pitt reportedly pulls in around $20 million per movie these days

Before Brad Pitt became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men, he was a young actor trying to make it an in the film industry. His breakthrough role came in the early ‘90s when he was cast to star alongside Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in the now-classic film ‘Thelma & Louise’.

As expected he wasn’t paid much for the role. Pitt reportedly received a $6,000 paycheck for his work in the movie.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez may have made name for herself as a romantic movie actress but she showed off her acting chops in the 2019 film ‘Hustlers’. In fact, she was so dedicated to the project that she agreed to star in it for free and even produce it.

The film was a critical and box office hit scoring JLo a Golden Globe nomination for best-supporting actress.

Oprah Winfrey

Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock: Winfrey is currently worth $2.5 billion

It can be difficult to imagine Oprah Winfrey as anything other than a media mogul and host. Once upon a time though, the 66-year-old billionaire had an impressive acting career.

She was even nominated for an Oscar for her role in the historical drama ‘The Color Purple’. That accomplishment certainly made up for the $35,000 paycheck she received for the project.

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