Bill Murray’s $9K for ‘Rushmore’ and 8 Other Shockingly Low Movie Star Salaries
Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman in 'Rushmore,' 1998 (Photo: Everett Collection)
You might think that big-name actors like George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, and even an "Avengers" star or two always bring in the big paychecks. However, sometimes a superstar will take a severe pay cut. Many don't make as much money much as you might expect.
Take Bill Murray, for example. The man's one of the most beloved actors of all time, a national treasure who fits right in with big studio movies like "Ghostbusters" as much as quirky indies like Jim Jarmusch's "The Limits of Control." One of his most popular roles is Herman Blume, a successful yet depressed businessman who becomes the unlikely best friend and romantic rival of a 15-year-old private school student in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore."
Murray was paid only $9,000 for this performance, a new book about director Anderson reveals (via Vulture). Actually, he would've ended up making negative $16,000, if his director had actually cashed the check Murray wrote to personally cover the $25,000 fee for a helicopter shot. But in the end, Murray did okay as he negotiated an undisclosed percentage of the film's profits — a pretty common occurrence in Hollywood these days.
Murray initially made next to nothing for "Rushmore," but it paid off in other ways: It earned him a Golden Globe nomination and won him a slew of awards, and began what would become a long and lucrative collaboration with Wes Anderson. In fact, one of the things we most look forward to with each new Anderson creation is seeing what kind of role he wrote for Murray.
Still, only $9K up front for the gig ... pretty low for the guy who played Dr. Peter Venkman. Here are some other rather shockingly low movie salaries from over the years.
1. Jim Carrey, $0 ("Yes Man")
Well, not exactly. Carrey starred in the 2008 comedy for no money up front but arranged to earn $36.2 percent of the profits. The film went on to earn over $223 million worldwide, and, well, do the math ... that's a lot more than the $20 million he got up front for "Cable Guy" (1996), "Liar Liar" (1997), and "Me, Myself & Irene" (2000), according to IMDb. A more stingy studio system — and Carrey's fading box-office clout — actually resulted in one of the star's biggest paydays.
2. George Clooney, $120,000 ("Good Night, and Good Luck")
The former "ER" doctor is arguably the biggest movie star working today. He's earned some big paychecks for big studio projects, including $10 million for "The Perfect Storm" (2000) and $20 million for "Ocean's Eleven" (2001). However, Clooney's all the classier for his willingness to fight (and sacrifice) for projects he believes in — according to The Hollywood Reporter, he took only $120K for writing, directing and starring in "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005), which earned six Oscar nominations, and $300,000 for his starring role in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" (2011), which earned five Oscar noms, including Best Actor.