Top 10 Times Actors Quit Over Their Salary

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Top 10 Times Actors Quit Over Their Salary

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
It's not about the money, it's about sending a message. Okay, sometimes it's about the money. For this list, we'll be looking at actors who walked away from film and TV series over pay disputes. Our countdown includes Chris Pine & Chris Hemsworth, Jonah Hill, Angelina Jolie, and more!
Transcript

Top 10 Actors Who Quit Because They Weren’t Being Paid Enough


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Quit Because They Weren’t Being Paid Enough.

For this list, we’ll be looking at actors who walked away from film and TV series over pay disputes. We’re not including actors who asked for more money and then got fired, however.

Were these actors being unfairly compensated? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Chris Pine & Chris Hemsworth

“Star Trek 4” (2023)

With a fourth film in the "Star Trek" reboot series currently in development, fans looking forward to the return of Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk should set their phasers to “disappointed.” Negotiations between Pine, studio Paramount Pictures, and production company Skydance Media reportedly fell through in 2018. It looks like another famous Chris won’t be returning to the "Trek" world either: Chris Hemsworth, who plays Captain Kirk's father, James. Following the disappointing box office performance of 2016's "Star Trek Beyond," both actors were reportedly asked to accept a reduced salary, which they reportedly refused to take. May we suggest the title: “Star Trek 4: The Wrath of Contracts.”

#9: Maggie Roswell

“The Simpsons” (1989-)

Many memorable characters on "The Simpsons'' are voiced by Maggie Roswell, including Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, and Luann Van Houten. Nancy Cartwright, who voices Bart, even praised Roswell for her talents in creating "the normal sound," with her more naturalistic style helping bring some sense of groundedness to the outrageous world of Springfield. But Fox apparently didn't see her as essential. When Roswell moved to Denver, she constantly flew to Los Angeles to record her lines, covering her own travel costs. She asked for a raise to $6,000 per episode, but the network only offered a $150 bump. So, Roswell left, and the show killed off Maude in response. In 2002, an agreement was reached and Roswell returned. Reunited and it feels so good.

#8: Will Smith

“Snake Eyes” (1998)

The 90s were a pivotal decade for Will Smith, who went from sitcom star to action movie star in just a few years. And, in 1997, it looked like Smith was set to team up with another A-Lister, Nicolas Cage, for Brian De Palma's conspiracy thriller, "Snake Eyes." The part of Cage's best friend, Commander Kevin Dunne, was first offered to Al Pacino before Smith was cast. However, a pay dispute led to Smith leaving, and Gary Sinise was cast in his place. "Snake Eyes" performed moderately well at the box office but received a pretty lackluster response from critics and audiences. We doubt Smith regrets this decision.

#7: Benicio del Toro

“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)

Midway through "Star Trek Into Darkness," it's revealed that Commander John Harrison is actually Khan, one of the most infamous antagonists "Star Trek" has ever known. While Benedict Cumberbatch more than does the villainous role justice, there was another actor who was in contention first. Director J. J. Abrams met with Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro multiple times, as he reportedly wanted another Latino actor to inherit Ricardo Montalban's role. But Del Toro ultimately turned it down, reportedly due to a pay dispute. However, he did turn up in that other big space series, with his memorable role in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

#6: Martin Landau

“Mission: Impossible” (1966-73)

Before “Mission: Impossible” was a blockbuster movie series, it was a CBS action drama. And Tom Cruise was still in elementary school, and there was no character named "Ethan Hunt" to be found. But it still had one of the best ensembles on TV, including future Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who played IMF agent and master of disguise, Rollin Hand. Landau started as a guest actor before becoming a series regular in season two, though he asked for one-year contracts, rather than five-year ones. A pay dispute in 1969 led to Landau leaving, along with his then-wife and fellow “M:I” actor, Barbara Bain. Who replaced Landau? Leonard Nimoy as The Great Paris. Do the “Star Trek” connections ever stop?

#5: Bruce Willis

“The Expendables 3” (2014)

“The Expendables” films are full of action and thrills. But the behind-the-scenes drama has also been pretty explosive. Bruce Willis was set to return for the franchise’s third installment. The “Die Hard” star was reportedly offered $3 million. This might sound low for a movie star like Willis until you learn he was only filming for four days. But Willis demanded a bump to $4 million, which Sylvester Stallone and company refused. Harrison Ford was cast as a new character in Willis' place. Stallone let the world know his feelings about Willis, tweeting about how he was “greedy and lazy.” Let’s just say their relationship seems… rocky.

#4: Jonah Hill

“The Batman” (2022)

Whenever we get a new incarnation of Batman, the casting is guaranteed to generate serious buzz. Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” ultimately landed on Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader and Colin Farrell as the Penguin. However, Jonah Hill was nearly cast as either the Penguin or another villain - The Riddler. Hill reportedly asked for a $10 million paycheck, which would've been more than twice as much as Pattinson would earn. He also reportedly couldn't choose which role he would take. While we love Hill as an actor and wish we could've seen his take on these legendary villains, we understand why the deal fell through.

#3: Angelina Jolie

“Gravity” (2013)

"Gravity" is a stunning space drama with both amazing visuals and a sensitive starring performance from Sandra Bullock. But another Oscar-winning actress was initially attached: Angelina Jolie. Due to a salary disagreement, Jolie left. Before Bullock was cast, Scarlett Johansson and Marion Cotillard were also considered, and Natalie Portman was cast before ultimately departing. Also, Bullock's original co-star wasn't George Clooney but Robert Downey Jr. Bullock went on to receive another Oscar nomination, and “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director. Who would've thought a movie with such a small ensemble would have so much casting drama?


#2: Daniel Dae Kim & Grace Park

“Hawaii Five-0” (2010-20)

For the first seven seasons on CBS' reboot of "Hawaii Five-0," Daniel Dae Kim was a key part of the cast as Detective Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly. However, a pay disagreement between Kim and the network led to him leaving in 2017. Kim and co-star Grace Park left after being denied pay equal to their white co-stars, Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. While we were sorry to see Kim and Park leave, we totally respect their decision. In order for there to be true equality in Hollywood, actors need to be compensated fairly, especially when they’re so pivotal to their casts.

#1: Rob Lowe

“The West Wing” (1999-2006)

When political drama "The West Wing" premiered in 1999, the main character was Sam Seaborn, the White House Communications Director played by Rob Lowe. But as the show progressed, it became less about Sam and more about President Jed Bartlet. Lowe left the show during the fourth season, citing a lack of satisfaction with the role. He also reportedly was denied a raise, despite his co-stars receiving pay bumps. Lowe did, however, make an appearance in the show’s final episode. This behind-the-scenes drama is a good reminder that politics aren’t limited to the White House.
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