15 Actors Who Basically Did A Role For Free

Elizabeth Spina
Jonah Hill
YouTube | Jimmy Kimmel Live

Once actors finally have their big break and money becomes no object, they get to start dabbling in passion projects, regardless of how lucrative it may or may not be upfront, and agree to take a percentage of the film's profit instead, with the hopes of their investment will return to them tenfold.

Here are 15 actors who basically did roles for free, simply because they wanted to.

George Clooney in "Good Night, and Good Luck"

George Clooney
YouTube | Jimmy Kimmel Live

George Clooney invested entirely out of his own pocket and only paid himself $3 for writing, directing, and starring in Good Night, and Good Luck. He later explained why he was so passionate about making sure that the film got made, revealing that it was a "love letter to [his] old man" — because he's "in the enviable position of being able to force studios to make films that they wouldn’t ordinarily make."

Beyoncé in "Cadillac Records"

YouTube | Martin Novak

While Beyoncé did rake in $4-million for starring in Cadillac Records, she subsequently donated all of her earnings to the Phoenix House, a drug treatment rehabilitation center she stayed at to help prepare her for the role.

Jennifer Lopez in "Hustlers"

Jennifer Lopez
Giphy | Hustlers

While Hustler's went on to do quite well in popularity, Jennifer Lopez starred in the film for free. "[I've] never been motivated by money," she told GQ. "I did it for free and produced it. Like Jenny From the Block — I do what I love.”

John Candy in "Home Alone"

John Candy
Giphy | Giphy

John Candy earned $414 for appearing in Home Alone — the highest-grossing domestic comedy in the history of film. He allegedly agreed to that salary as a friendly favour to the creators of the movie, but it was later revealed that he had major regrets about it.

"There was certainly a little resentment on John's part," the Director, Chris Columbus, told Business Insider.

Bill Murray in "Rushmore"

Bill Murray
YouTube | TODAY

Initially, Bill Murray was paid $9000 to star in Disney's Rushmore. But when the film couldn't afford helicopter for a scene, he wrote a $25,000 check to the director to help make it happen.

Jim Carrey in "Yes Man"

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey did not receive any payment upfront for starring as the lead character in Yes Man, with Zooey Deschanel. Instead, he opted for 36.2% of the film's back-end profits. Fortunately for Carrey, it landed him a $30-million payday.

Gunnar Hansen in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre only earned $800. He's also since revealed that the working conditions were far from ideal. He was forced to wear the same costume for the entire duration of filming. The foul odor of the outfit eventually made him feel sick.

Christopher Lee in "The Wicker Man"

Christopher Lee
YouTube | Ajace1000

Christopher Lee has dubbed his role as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man as the greatest role of his entire acting career, and it was one that he did free of charge.

Jon Heder in "Napoleon Dynamite"

Jon Heder
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Jon Heder played Napoleon Dynamite for just $1000 upfront. After the film went on to be a major box-office smash, he was able to renegotiate his earnings, however.

Adam Levine in "Begin Again"

Adam Levine
YouTube | Maroon 5

Adam Levine made his bigscreen debut in Begin Again "for no money," at all, but rather for the experience.

He said that he wanted "to treat [acting] completely differently [than music] because [he has] the very fortunate luxury of not having to think of this in terms of money."

"I'm very lucky that I'm in that position...I want to have good experiences," he told USA Today.

Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson"

Ryan Gosling

Shortly after the huge success that was The Notebook, Ryan Gosling took on a role in Half Nelson because he was a fan of the script. He agreed to be paid $1000 per week while filming. The movie went on to earn him an Oscar nomination.

Brad Pitt in "Thelma and Louise"

Brad Pitt
YouTube | Funny Or Die

If you didn't already know, Thelma and Louise was Brad Pitt's big-break, so to speak. So he was only paid $9000 for his part in the film. While the cut may not have been impressive, Pitt became a huge Hollywood sensation after that, so it looks like it paid off in other ways!

Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club"

Matthew McConaughey

For his iconic role in Dallas Buyers Club, and arguably one of his top acting performances, Matthew McConaughey made only $200,000. But he has willing to take a cut.

He went on to be awarded with the Best Actor Academy Award later that year.

Jonah Hill in "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Jonah Hill
YouTube | Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jonah Hill earned $60,000 to play in the Oscar-nominated film Wolf of Wall Street, and he's since admitted that he would have done it for a lot less for the chance to work with the film's director, Martin Scorsese.

“I would sell my house and give him all my money to work for [Scorsese]. … I’d have done anything in the world. I would do it again in a second,” he said.

Harrison Ford in "Star Wars: A New Hope"

Harrison Ford

At the time, it wasn't clear whether or not George Lucas' vision for the Star Wars franchise was going to be a big success. So believe it or not, for playing one of the most iconic characters of all time, Harrison Ford was only paid $10,000.