An actor’s monetary value is a shadowy concoction calculated according to who’s doing the appraisal. In other words, it’s complicated, and there are risks to asking for a raise.
For the actors on this list, risking it all for a larger piece of the pie sent them home hungry.
Before making 1967’s You Only Live Twice Sean Connery was vocal about not only his boredom with the Bond franchise, but his dissatisfaction with his compensation. Connery signed on to You Only Live Twice for $750,000, plus a 25 percent share of merchandising. Producers reportedly knew that wouldn’t satisfy Connery next time, so they set out to find a new star. Enter George Lazenby. Producers used Lazenby as a bargaining chip with Connery, but if their goal was to get Connery to settle for less, it didn’t work.
When it came time to negotiate for Connery’s involvement in the next Bond film – 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Connery reportedly demanded a cool million, plus a percentage of the gross. As a result, Lazenby was hired as the new James Bond for a $50,000 salary.
Lazenby’s tenure only lasted the one film however. United Artists lured Connery back to the role for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever with the promise to back two other films of Connery’s choice. Diamonds Are Forever proved to be Connery’s last Bond Film. In 1973’s Live and Let Die, he was replaced with Roger Moore.
The saga of Marcus Chong – son of comedian Tommy Chong and the actor who played the operator Tank in the first Matrix film– is strange enough to make you wonder which colour pill you took before hearing it. After the success of The Matrix, the film’s creators set their sights on two sequels. When the Wachowskis reached out to Chong to reprise his role as operator Tank, they reportedly offered him $250,000, but Chong wanted a million. According to Entertainment Weekly, Chong’s lawyer delivered an ultimatum to the Wachowskis in a letter, with a truly bizarre negotiation strategy. He decreased his asking price to $500,000 for appearing in Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, but said that alternatively he would do the movies for free. Chong wrote, “I will do it for free because I love our project and want to protect the role and the integrity of the brothers’ vision.” Rather than give him a pay bump or take him up on his offer to work gratis, the Wachowskis removed Chong from the franchise altogether. In the aftermath Chong was arrested for verbally threatening the filmmakers, and later unsuccessfully sued the Wachowski’s production company Eon, Warner Bros., and AOL Time Warner for breach of contract, slander, and fraud.
Lauren Cohan’s character, Maggie, was a staple on The Walking Dead for almost a decade. But when Cohan entered negotiations to return for the show’s ninth season, things apparently didn’t go very well. Cohan didn’t get into specifics about the negotiations while talking to Entertainment Weekly in November 2018, instead saying that she was surprised the negotiations took a bad turn and that she chose to take it as a message, “I took that, how baffled I was, and thought, ‘Okay, well that’s a sign. This is maybe just not a fit anymore.'” Once Cohan started looking elsewhere she had no shortage of offers. Ultimately, she signed on for ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier. Her farewell to The Walking Dead marked a big departure from the show’s comic book source material. However, just like the living corpses on the show, Cohan’s character could return in the future.
Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park
Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park were with Hawaii Five-0 since the very beginning of the rebooted CBS series in 2010. After seven years on the show, the pair exited amidst a contract dispute in 2017. So what’s the deal? Well apparently, there was no deal. According to Variety, Kim and Park were searching for equal pay to stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. CBS wouldn’t budge and settled with a final offer that was reportedly 10 to 15 percent lower than what O’Loughlin and Caan were getting. Ultimately, CBS wrote Kim and Park off the show in Season 8. Though the network released glowing statements about the departing stars, Park was not thrilled when showrunner Peter M. Lenkov fired off a tweet suggesting she left the series to focus on family. Park told Deadline, “I let him know, ‘That wasn’t cool that you made a statement on my behalf.’ I know he did it to be helpful, and I care about Peter as a person, but I didn’t leave for that reason.”