Actors Who Have Negotiated Major Salary Increases In TV And Film

Although many celebrities have some of the highest salaries in the world, that doesn’t always mean that they’re content with the money they receive. In some instances, they may feel like they may be being cut short of what they are rightfully owed for the work that they do. Although this number is usually high, many of us aren’t celebrities, so we don’t fully understand how trying it can be. So, take a look and see some of the stars and casts that fought for more money and got what they asked for.

Jennifer Lopez – American Idol

In 2011, Jennifer Lopez became a judge on American Idol for Season 10 of the show. As a judge, it is reported that Lopez’s salary was $12 million per season. However, after two years, Lopez felt there needed to be a change in how much she was paid.

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Michael Becker/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images
Michael Becker/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

After her negotiations initially failed, she left the show in 2013. A year later, producers gave in to her salary demands, paying Lopez $17.5 million until she officially left the show in 2016.

Charlize Theron – The Huntsman

In the case of Charlize Theron, in 2015, she learned that her co-star on The Huntsman, Chris Hemsworth, was making $10 million more than her. Offended as anyone might be, she demanded that her pay was equal to that of Hemsworths’.

Theron in The Huntsman
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

However, it wasn’t just her demand that led to the executives granting her the pay increase, but her ability to convince them that she had a pretty solid track record of making hit films in Hollywood.

Helen Hunt And Paul Reiser – Mad About You

Incredibly, the stars of Friends weren’t the only sitcom TV cast to be paid a whopping $1 million per episode. This was also the case for Mad About You stars Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser. Initially, it was reported that the two started with salaries of $250,000 per episode, before negotiating an increase to $1 million an episode.

Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt
NBC
NBC

Unfortunately for the duo, the show was canceled just one year later. This might have something to do with the four hundred percent increase.

Simon Cowell – American Idol

Simon Cowell is no stranger to being a judge, having taken a seat on reality competition shows such as America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent, and The X Factor. On top of having an above-par sense of what’s good and what’s not, as well as creating and producing other shows, he’s also quite the businessman.

Simon Cowell on American Idol
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic for Fox Television Network
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic for Fox Television Network

In 2009, he negotiated an impressive salary increase of American Idol from a reported $36 million per season to $45 million, making him one of the highest-paid TV stars at the time.

Ellen Pompeo – Grey’s Anatomy

Although Ellen Pompeo has served as the star of Grey’s Anatomy since its debut in 2005, she eventually discovered that her co-star, Patrick Dempsey, was making significantly more. Ellen then asked for a raise, $5,000 more than what Dempsey was being paid, although declined out of principle.

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MovieStillsDB/ABC
MovieStillsDB/ABC

However, this didn’t top her. In 2017, she finally solidified a deal that made her the highest-paid on the series, earning $575,000 per episode 24 episodes in a season. It also wasn’t uncommon for her to receive bonuses, and with other deals, earned her a whopping $30 million per season.

Jessica Chastain Helped Out Octavia Spencer After The Help

Jessica Chastain is a good friend, especially to fellow actress Octavia Spencer. In 2018, Spencer revealed to Chastain that she was getting paid far less than her co-stars, along with many other female minorities in Hollywood; Chastain wasn’t going to let this happen.

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MovieStillsDB/Dreamworks Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone Pictures
MovieStillsDB/Dreamworks Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone Pictures

Chastain reportedly stormed into the executives’ office and demanded Spencer’s pay would be increased significantly for the upcoming holiday film. Incredibly, Spencer reported that her salary for the film was increased five-fold.

Tim Allen – Home Improvement

Tim Allen is known for his work in comedy, although one of his most notable roles is arguably the star of ABC’s Home Improvement. Considering the show’s success, before Season 8, Allen went to executives to negotiate for a 400 percent pay increase, which would be $1.25 million per episode for the final season of the series.

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MovieStillsDB/Walt Disney Studios
MovieStillsDB/Walt Disney Studios

In the beginning, Allen was only making $200,000 an episode, but after starring in The Santa Clause and the voice of Buzz Lightyear, he felt he had the leverage he needed. It worked, and in the final season, racked in $33.75 million.

Rachel Brosnahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Initially a rather unknown actress, Rachel Brosnan rose in popularity after starring as Miriam “Midge” Maisel in Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Although she isn’t a massive star yet, the show’s success led to a hefty raise.

Picture of Ms. Maisel
Amazon
Amazon

In 2019, before the program’s third season, Brosnahan managed to negotiate a pay raise to $300,000 an episode, which was much better than her previous $100,000 paycheck. Supposedly, some of the other stars are getting pay bumps too such as Tony Shalhoub, who plays Miriam’s father.

The Cast Of 13 Reasons Why

The cast of the hit series 13 Reasons Why didn’t have too much of a problem asking for raises following the ratings of the Season 2 premiere. The lead actor of the series, Dylan Minnette, negotiated the biggest increase with him receiving $200,000 an episode instead of his previous $80,000.

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MovieStillsDB/Netflix
MovieStillsDB/Netflix

His other co-stars, Ross Butler, Alisha Boe, Christian Navarro, and Devin Druid also made out on top, earning an estimated $135,000 per episode instead of their $20,000 and $60,000 salaries.

NeNe Leakes – The Real Housewives Of Atlanta

Reality star NeNe Leaks has almost always been the highest-paid actor on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Before the Season 12 Premiere in 2019, NeNe renegotiated her contract to ensure an increase of $100,000 an episode, raising her salary from $2.75 million to $2.85 million.

Picture of NeNe Leakes
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Although a $100,000 increase may not seem like all that much, she’s making more than her co-stars by far. Some of the other girls such as Kandi Burrus, the second-highest-paid, only makes $2.3 million per season!

Michael C. Hall – Dexter

Michael C. Hall is the antihero protagonist of the Emmy Award-winning series Dexter. For the first six seasons of the show, Hall supposedly made around $295,000 per episode. Bringing up his contract was up for renewal and that Season 6 was a hit, Hall requested $24 million for each season going forward, which is a raise of $535,000 an episode.

Picture of Michael C. Hall
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The show was then put on hold, offering him $20 million instead. However, when Hall was ready to walk, he got what he wanted. The series went on for another two seasons, making Hall $48 million richer.

The Cast Of On My Block

When the 2018 Netflix series On My Block first aired in 2018, the show’s stars Jason Genao, Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, and Diego Tinoco were reportedly making a mere $20,000 an episode.

Cast of On My Block
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Then, after the first two seasons doing so well, the cast negotiated an $81,125 per episode raise at the start of Season 3. Although this is no small sum of money, unfortunately for the actors of On My Block, they make significantly less than other teenage Netflix shows.

Ray Romano – Everybody Loves Raymond

Ray Romano took advantage of the popularity of his sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, and in 2003, just before Season 8, scored himself a decent-size raise because of it. At the time, he was only receiving $800,000 an episode, but the new adjustment in his contract led him to receive an estimated pre-episode rate of $1.8 million.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

Considering that they filmed between 23 and 24 episodes per season, by the end, he had made a cool $41 million a season.

Amy Schumer – The Leather Special

Before her stand-up comedy special on Netflix, The Leather Special, Amy Schumer asked for a better deal, even though she had already signed a deal for $11 million. Claiming that male actors such as Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle were making more than her, her plan worked. She was able to secure $2 million more for her special, making her one of the highest-paid female comedians in the country.

Picture of Amy Schumer
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

On Instagram, Schumer commented on the situation, stating, “I believe women deserve equal pay. However, I don’t believe I deserve equal pay to Chris and Dave. They are legends and [two] of the greatest comics of all time.”

Cast Of Stranger Things

In the first two seasons of the hit show Stranger Things, the young cast earned an estimated $30,000 per episode. However, in 2018, stars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo, and Noah Schnapp managed to score a better deal.

Picture of the cast of Stranger Things
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM

After negotiations, they received an estimated $250,000 per episode each. On the other hand, the adult co-stars were even better off, reportedly having their salaries increased to $350,000 an episode.

The Cast Of Seinfeld, Minus Jerry Seinfeld

In 1993, four years after the debut of the show, the cast, except Jerry Seinfeld, came together to negotiate a raise that would earn them $160,000 more for each episode. Then, another four years later, with the show being one of the most popular on television, they made another negotiation, bring them a $600,000 increase.

Cast of Seinfeld
David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

However, Jerry also had their backs. Although he was making $1 million an episode as the star, a writer, and a producer, he turned down a $5 million per episode deal to return to the show after it ended in 1998.

Emmy Rossum – Shameless

Emmy Rossum is best known as the star of the Showtime series Shameless. However, she would eventually realize that even though she had the same billing as her co-star, William H. Macy, he was making a whole $350,000 more an episode than her.

Picture of Emmy Rossum
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In 2016, after six seasons, Emmy demanded not only equal pay but also more to make up for the money she had been schemed out of over the years. The studio executives eventually agreed and gave her everything she wanted, even though she announced she was leaving the show in 2018.

The Adult Cast Of Modern Family

After a successful Season 3, the adult stars of Modern Family were firm on negotiating their salaries with the executives. After a decline that resulted in a lawsuit, cast members Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Julie Brown, Eric Stonestreet, and Sofia Vergara, got most of what they asked for.

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MovieStillsDB/ABC/ 20th Century Fox
MovieStillsDB/ABC/ 20th Century Fox

After a legal battle, the studio agreed to pay them $150,000 of their requested $200,000 per episode demand, along with a bonus that brought them up to $175,000. Prior to the deal, the adult cast was only making $100,000 an episode.

Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man

After being cast as the star in Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. received several major pay raises over the years. Although hired for the first film to receive $500,000 in 2008, for the preceding two films, he negotiated a pay bump of $10 million. On top of that, he also bargained profit participation, which means that the more money the films made, the more he was paid.

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MovieStillsDB/Marvel
MovieStillsDB/Marvel

It’s supposed that he had a deal for 2.5 percent of the profit, which is worth an estimated $50 million of the first Avengers film’s earnings. Before the franchise concluded it’s believed he struck an even better deal, earning $75 million for Avengers” End Game.

The Cast Of The Big Bang Theory

In 2014, the cast of The Big Bang Theory did some impressive financial maneuvering with the original five stars made up of Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Simon Helberg; each landed a $1 million episode deal. However, that wasn’t the end of it.

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MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., CBS
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., CBS

In 2017, the group took a pay cut of a reported $100,000 per episode, so that the newer stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch could receive pay raises from $200,000 to $450,000.