Annual income of your average Hollywood actor?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Holadem, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I have always been curious about the equivalent annual salary of lesser known hollywood actors. People who get steady work, and seem to appear in every other movie in some supporting role, like:
    Philip Baker Hall
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    Nestor Serrano
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    Dylan Baker
    [​IMG]
    Originally, I meant to ask about decidely forgettable performers like the one below, but nearly gave up - trying to find an actor whose name you don't know and who starred in a bunch of movies you don't remember is fairly difficult:
    Phil Morris
    [​IMG]
    How much $$$ do you figure this dude makes per year from his movies and TV appearances?
    I am trying to get a sense of the kind of lifestyle these people can afford, especially actors on the level of the last picture. Do they make as much as say, your average corporate working stiff? Do they break 6 figures and live somewhat comfortably?
    --
    H - Curious
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  3. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Yeah just like 95% of all writers.
     
  4. John Mansor

    John Mansor Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't have much to add but it is an interesting discussion. My guess would be that they (Dr. Connors, et. al.) make well over 6 figures. But most SAG members don't earn enough to qualify for health insurance.
     
  5. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    Shouldn't the annual income of your typical actor be identical to the annual income of your typical waiter?
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I fixed the broken links.
     
  7. David Ren

    David Ren Stunt Coordinator

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    Answer: not much.

    If you're not a recognizable name, you'll make SAG scale, which is about $700 a day.

    Let's look at the actors in your pictures:

    Philip Baker Hall is somewhat of a name, so his quote would probably be about $8,000 a week on studio films, much less on indie films. Last year (2004), he did 2 films. One was In Good Company. Judging by the size of his role, let's say he worked 1 week and made his $8,000 . The other was a $300k film that he starred in (called Duck). With a SAG Modified low budget contract, the weekly rate is $933 and the film probably shot for at most four weeks (probably less, given the budget), so let's say he got $4,000.

    That's $12,000 for 2004. Unless he did a few commercials as well.

    The second guy, I don't even know so I can't comment. The third is Dylan Baker, who might be on the same level as PBH. Last year, he did 2 films and 5 guest starring TV roles. Kinsey, he probably made $5000 a week for one week and Spider Man 2, he probably worked three weeks because bigger movies take longer to shoot. At $8,000 a week, he probably netted $24,000 for that one. For his TV roles, which work one week, I would guess maybe $4,000 each x 5 = $20,000. So he made $49,000 last year.

    As far as Phil Morris (Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld), 2004 he did no films, 1 voice on a TV show, 2 voices in video games, and 3 guest starring roles. Voice overs are tough because they can put you in the recording studio for 1 day and record 10 episodes for you. And his show was on Spike TV, not a major network. Say he made $5,000 for all his voice stuff, and $2,500 for each TV spot, which is $7,500, then he made $12,500 for the year.

    Acting is tough. And the figures I quoted are probably inflated. For instance, I have no idea if Philip Baker Hall and Dylan Baker's quotes are near $8,000 a week.

    Even hugely recognizable names aren't making that much. People like Shannon Elizabeth, Seth Green, Liev Schrieber, Jena Malone... and I can't think right now. Unless you are a name that sells a movie, that sell tickets, like Tom Cruise, or Julia Roberts, then your name means nothing. Casting Liev Schrieber and casting an unknown will be the same thing, so no studio will give Liev more money when they can hire an unknown cheaply.

    I know an actor who has made 100 films, most big budget, and is instantly recognizable. He's done 6 or so films a year for the last twenty years, but his parts are small. And when you work a week on each film, making $2,500 a week, 6 films a year is $15,000.

    David
     
  8. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    Some names to the pics would have been nice. I knew the first and third guy, but the second guy...??? And I didn't know the last guy was the attorney on Seinfeld until David's post. It would have been more helpful to the conversation to know who we're talking about.
     
  9. John Mansor

    John Mansor Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I have edited the post once again to included the names.

    Thanks David for a most insightful reply - I understand from previous posts that you work in the industry. I had no idea things could be that difficult even for actors of the caliber of Philip Baker Hall.

    --

    H
     
  11. Mark Schmitt

    Mark Schmitt Stunt Coordinator

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    I've actually met Nestor Serrano a few times, through another actor who is also one of those guys that shows up in a lot of films. I won't name him because he's a friend and I feel weird that I'm talking about his income, but for the sake of conversation I will note that he made enough to buy a house in the Hollywood hills here.

    I don't know how much these guys make exactly, but I know they do pretty well. Enough where they can afford to live comfortably at the least. But they do need to keep working. It depends on the production as well. A big flick like Day After Tomorrow (in which Nestor played a decent part) must have been a good payday.
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  13. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Yes, the numbers seem very low to me. Somebody like PBH probably wouldn't get out of bed to do a movie for less than 50-100G's unless it was a favor or something special like Dogville. They probably have a negotiated salary and not a weekly rate.

    He might have been getting 8g a week for Magnolia or Dogville, but I would be absolutely shocked if he wasn't seeing 6 figures for stuff like The Sum of All Fears and The General's Daughter. Then there's his voice work, ancillary income from previous roles for things like TV showings, tons of free crap, etc.

    And a producer hires Liev Schriber because he has a track record. They know what they are going to get a quality performance, he isn't going to wreak havoc on set, have some hidden insurance liability and that he'll be able to do the job. That's why "that guys" exist and every movie doesn't feature 5 brand new actors in the principle supporting roles. No one's giving me a job over Luis Guzman just because I'll work cheaper.
     
  14. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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    Very interesting discussion.

    David provided some very interesting and eye-opening numbers. As a part-time actor myself, I have always wondered how much the big guys were making and what they did to supplement their income between jobs.

    As David pointed out, for most actors, you make what SAG (or in my case, ACTRA) has laid out in the union agreement. If you are an actor of some notoriety, then you can demand more. I know that when I worked with one actor who was rather well known, he made $30,000 for a one day shoot. Not bad!

    Personally, I don't make a heck of a lot at it. I have yet to break $10,000 a year. I have a full-time job that keeps me going. I worked with one actor this year who is sort of supported by his wifes solid F/T income and he just suppliments their combined incomes with acting while waiting for the BIG ONE.

    One other detail to consider is residuals. Depending upon the project you are working on, you are either bought out (meaning that the studio can show the movie/TV show as often as they want) or they will pay you a fee for every time it is shown etc. Those can add up if you do a lot of work.
     
  15. David Ren

    David Ren Stunt Coordinator

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    Philip Baker Hall will make six figures for a movie which he has a substantial role, but he'll probably shoot for 3 months too, which is not far off from the 8k a week I guesstimated, although that figure maybe a bit low, in hindsight. He may be as high as 15k or so.

    But I can tell you right now, PBH is not rich. Especially after giving 10% to his agent, 10-15% to manager, 5% to lawyer, and more for business manager if he has one, and $4000 a month for a publicist if he has one. After taxes, it's hardly anything.

    Sure, if they all saved their money and budget themselves, they could all get houses in the Hollywood Hills, but none of them are living luxurious lifestyles. A friend of mine just moved into an amazing house on the hills, and he has never made six figures in his life. He just lives conservatively and saved up for seventeen years.

    I have friends living in crappy one bedroom apartment buildings who tell me "So and so actor lives right next door." You'd think these actors would have enough money to move to a bigger place but the reality is, they don't make that much.

    I have friends who are very well known actors who are broke. They do commercials just to stay alive. One actor with the intials SC just starred in a big movie that opened at #5 at the box office.

    I also moved out in LA to pursue acting but got disillusioned. Less than 1% of them get to the level of Philip Baker Hall and even then, you're still struggling.

    Also, yes, producers would rather hire Liev than an unknown because of his track record and other reasons, but he has no leverage. If he holds out for another 200k in salary, the studio will say fuck him and get someone else.

    David
     
  16. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    I'd like to know what directors make as well. It's a whole different game altogether though, I imagine.
     
  17. Mikah Cerucco

    Mikah Cerucco Cinematographer

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    Glad someone brought up residuals because I know at least one actor that got $40k one year in residuals. And he's way below the PBH level. In fact, you wouldn't even notice his face. I don't when I see him in a movie, and I've met him face to face. He still has his regular job, though, last I heard.
     
  18. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Yeah, those PBH numbers (at least the total for 2004) seem way low. At those rates you would either have to get more work or take a second job to get by. I haven't heard of PBH waiting tables and I'm pretty sure if he wanted more work (TV guest appearances, etc) then he wouldn't have a hard time getting it. I'm guessing that if his wage is really that low then he has a nice investment setup that ensures that he doesn't have to work much in a given year if he doesn't want to.

    Re: Brad Dourif- I seem to recall an interview with Chris Carter about the first season X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea" saying they almost weren't able to afford Dourif so I'm guessing he gets more than scale.
     
  19. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  20. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    Virginia Madsen said in an interview that she was on her third mortage and just about ready to be homeless when Sideways became a big hit and she started getting offers again.
     

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