Sometimes, undeniably famous, classical actors and actresses (or even loveable, talented, squeaky-clean child and/or teen actors/actresses) take roles in movies that are very against their type. Unlike the Classically Trained Extras, who lament that their talent is being wasted, or the small but legitimate roles of the One-Scene Wonder, or the Old Shame of roles taken when it was the only work available, this trope covers actors who are completely fine with the situation. Why? Money, dear boy.
Obviously, movies are big business, and the right name at the top of the poster can be the difference between a hit and a flop. And it's hard to argue with the fact that, when offered buckets and buckets of cash for three weeks of shooting, anyone would be a fool not to take it. After all, acting is a volatile profession, as many starving artists can attest, and financial security for you and your family is nothing to turn from: It's not so much selling out, as selling well. And furthermore, most creative professions are overcrowded; for every wealthy and successful artist who can afford to sniff at jobs that are 'beneath' them, there are ten or more underworked ones who would kill for a chance at the income. On a cynical note, in the state that America is in today, you shouldn't be surprised to see this more often. Most actors have been seen sliding down the perceived hierarchy of the entertainment field, with the most common "step down" is for actors who primarily work in film suddenly "slumming it" by taking roles on television.
Still, if you do too many of these, you run the risk of having a rather strange IMDb record and irrevocably ruining your reputation as a creative thespian: so much potential and talent wasted. Some artists, however, can turn this to their advantage; a common reason cited by many successful artists who engage in this trope is that a high-paying job that doesn't greatly interest them means that they have more money to put into funding and appearing in lower-budget but more creatively appealing ones.
To be clear, however, there is no shame at all for doing a movie for the money, and if the movie happens to be a great one, artistically or popularly, all the better. Even if it is for the money, the level can be kept high and professional and they can turn out something great (like the example with Coppola and The Godfather). And just because an actor or director only took a movie for money doesn't mean they'll necessarily dislike the end result.
If it ends up a mediocre, run of the mill production, that's also excusable. People in creative jobs need an income the same as anyone else, and in fact, many of the greatest popcorn flicks of all time are great primarily because the studio shelled out the money to get actors and directors who would rather be doing something else, but who were still prepared to give the audience a good performance.
However, should a cash-in movie end up So Bad, It's Horrible, both the audience and the critics are likely to be notably less forgiving than they would be while judging a bad movie with original, artistic premise marred by flawed execution. As a result, rather paradoxically, an artist who takes the job for the money is perhaps best trying to put in a decent (or at least entertaining) performance even in a movie that doesn't match up to their standards. Whether they Took the Bad Film Seriously or end up Chewing the Scenery with Ham and Cheese, they're likely to elicit more respect from the audience than if they took the money but made it clear through their performance that they couldn't care less for anything but the paycheck.
This is also the reason for the percentage of high-quality foreign artists appearing in crummy American films: Hollywood, even at its most cheapskate, tends to pay much better than any other film industry in the world. Note that this also applies to star in big US television shows; with multi-million dollar deals commonplace, it can allow you to be a lot more choosy for the next few years.
Similar to getting a healthy paycheck, some actors will just want to do something "their kids can watch", the kind of roles most actors seek usually being dark and not appropriate for minors.
A common theme — especially among older actors and actresses — stems from growing up during hard economic conditions, either from a poor economy as a whole or from family hardships. The fear that "The Next Job" may not come, as it often failed to do for their family, drives them to take roles they might not otherwise be interested in. And, again, they're not exaggerating: any actor, young and old, always deals with extremely uneven income flow with absolutely no hard guarantees for the future.
There's also the common practice of recognizable actors turning up in indie films of varying quality "for scale". The term "for scale" means the minimum daily rate for actors guaranteed by the Screen Actors Guild, thus the opposite of this trope. When more notable actors do this, it's usually because they wanted to establish themself in a dramatic role (like the example with Dakota Fanning and Hounddog, where her character infamously got raped). This doesn't stop them from becoming controversial among people, though. As a general rule, if a recognizable name turns up in a movie featured on MST3K or RiffTrax or has a Golden Raspberry Award listed in their "Accolades" section on Wikipedia, this trope is almost certainly why.
Compare and contrast Doing It for the Art (when artistic value and/or achievement is the primary motivator), and Awesome, Dear Boy (when the actor takes the role for the coolness of it, regardless of how crappy the work is), Vacation, Dear Boy (where they work on the project so they can go to a special location) and One for the Money; One for the Art (where a creator uses the money earned from a purely commercial project to finance one that's more personal and artistic).
See also Contractual Obligation Project, Paying Their Dues, I Was Young and Needed the Money (when this trope is given as the excuse for Old Shame), WTH, Casting Agency?, Took the Bad Film Seriously. Not to be confused with Only in It for the Money, which is when this is the excuse a character uses in-story.
- Bud Abbott only agreed to voice himself in the Abbott and Costello cartoon because he owed money to the IRS.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared in Airplane! because the role paid for an expensive rug he wished to purchase. He even negotiated a raise for himself to cover the cost of the rug (they offered him $30,000; the rug cost $35,000). Subverted in that the movie is now considered a classic.
- Joss Ackland said that his money woes were the only reason he appeared in the movie Passion of Mind, which he called 'awful'.
- Arab-American comedian and actor Ahmed Ahmed has a stand-up bit where he talks about getting offered the role of Terrorist #4 in a Hollywood movie (after attempting to troll the audition by playing the role as mockingly over-the-top as possible). Ahmed describes that his first reaction was to reject the role on principle because every time an ethnic actor takes a stereotypical role, it just perpetuates the problem... until his agent informed him that he would be paid $30,000 for a week of work, at which point he promptly signed on.
- In his book There And Back Again: An Actor's Tale, Sean Astin talks at length about reconciling the conflict between the desire as an actor to do serious, important work, and the need to pay the bills by doing things like Encino Man.
- John Barrowman stated this as his only reason for appearing in the legendary Shark Attack 3: Megalodon.
- One notable exception: Kim Basinger backed out of the production of Boxing Helena, and as a result was sued for eight million dollars. Basinger was forced to enter bankruptcy. Money well spent? Considering its critical/commercial failure and the catastrophic career damage that it caused to both director/writer Jennifer Chambers Lynch and eventual star Sherilyn Fenn, most would agree it was. Rolling Stone's review even stated: "Sometimes even making the right decision can cost you."
- Halle Berry:
- This was her declared motivation for starring in Executive Decision. It evidently had nothing to do with the quality of the film itself (she simply didn't want to do it) but changed her mind when Warner Bros. offered her a $1 million salary for the role of a stewardess who helps the team. She quickly signed up for it.
- Berry received a $500,000 bonus on top of her base salary for Swordfish in exchange for agreeing to bare her breasts on-camera.
- She received a record salary for appearing in Catwoman (2004), which flopped at the box office. She accepted the "Worst Actress" Razzie with her Oscar (for Monster's Ball) in her other hand. This film has a strange history; before Berry was attached it was a generic superhero film. After getting her, it became a vanity film for Berry, and they shoehorned in the Catwoman angle. Perhaps Money, Dear Boy was at work when DC Comics allowed their trademarked name to be used in a film they had no input to. It really didn't help that the actual Catwoman character was off-limits because of the possibility she would appear in another Batman movie.
- Paul Bettany's growing family must be the reason he made Legion and Priest. He even pulled out of the lead role in The King's Speech (which won Colin Firth an Oscar) to do the latter. Or perhaps for Awesome, Dear Boy, as he has an entry there for Legion as well. Possibly both. And in a more quality product, but admittedly done for cash: the voice of Jarvis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I feel like a pirate. This is robbery. I walk in, I say some lines on a piece of paper for two hours, and then they give me a bag of money and I leave and I go about my day. I sort of feel guilty, because at least acting can be exhausting, with long hours but I do nothing! And I've never seen one of them."
- Once Bettany got upgraded to a more physical role as Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he joked that "now they want me to work for my money versus turn up for 45 minutes in a darkened studio and [act] Jarvis".
- Angela Bettis said that this is why she took the title role in NBC's made-for-TV remake of Carrie. Specifically, the film was intended as a Pilot Movie for a Carrie TV series (which ultimately didn't get picked up due to the film's disappointing ratings), and she took the role hoping it would lead to the sort of steady paycheck that working on a TV show provides.
- In a behind the scenes featurette for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Michael Biehn stated that he did Rex Colt's voice work for a paycheck and not much else. However, much like the game itself, the featurette was very tongue-in-cheek, and Biehn also said he had quite a lot of fun recording the more...colorful lines of his character.
- Charles Bronson's whole career. After an early life of extremely unpleasant and menial jobs, he took a stab at acting simply because he thought it looked like an easy way to make money. Even after he became the best-paid actor in the world, he described himself as "a product, like a cake of soap to be sold." In all of his interviews, he insisted that he had no opinions about the movies he appeared in or the roles he played. He simply memorized his lines and performed as needed.
- In Rock Brynner's book Yul: The Man Who Would Be King, this sentiment is expressed by Yul Brynner to his son. Due to a combination of factors (including unscrupulous film studios, his absence from the U.S. and an increasing reliance on maintaining his property), Yul was content to take any role as long as it offered a paycheck. He turned in roles in scores of schlocky films, and would always note to his son that because the studios and government felt compelled to try to screw him over at every opportunity, he could do the same thing to make money on projects that were beneath his star power.
- In an interview promoting the film 28 Days (no, not that one), the interviewer asked Sandra Bullock why she chose to star in it. She promptly answered that she needed the money. The interviewer started to laugh but stopped short when he noticed Ms. Bullock was serious.
- Richard Burton made a career of it. The accomplished actor who did Becket, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and Equus also starred in The Assassination of Trotsky, Bluebeard, Exorcist II: The Heretic...
- Steve Buscemi will not turn down a high-paying role. When asked about his appearance in Armageddon, he replied, "I wanted a bigger house." On the other hand, a film (or show) with Steve Buscemi is automatically worth your time and effort.
- James Caan told any media person he could at the time that he did Alien Nation purely for the money.
- Nicolas Cage likes to spend his cash, to the point he declared bankruptcy in 2009. Along with selling properties (which include a castle in France), he started taking many roles afterward that can be perfectly explained with "I need to finish off my debt with the IRS."
- Michael Caine, who has stated: "First of all, I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don't come, I choose the ones that pay the rent." His most shameful role is probably Hoagie in Jaws: The Revenge — his work on the film also prevented him from attending the ceremony where he would've been awarded his first Oscar. After his work on Jaws IV, Caine finally started turning down offers like this. At least until his appearance in Bewitched. Caine said of Jaws IV: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house it built, and it is terrific."
- In one game of "Scenes from a Hat" on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where the scene in question was "rejected names for Whose Line", Wayne suggested "Drew Carey's House Payment".
- John Carradine may well be the patron saint of this trope. On the stage, he played Hamlet. On the screen he played, well, damn near anything, with a filmography ranging from all-time classics to some of the worst movies ever made. He wasn't just in B-movies, he appeared in Z-movies like Red Zone Cuba and Vampire Men of the Lost Planet. And his son David Carradine definitely followed in his footsteps.
- Jackie Chan admits that he did appear in a porno film to get by several years before he became famous.
- He originally did his own stunts because it meant he brought home a little more money every week. Over time this became his trademark, proving Tropes Are Not Bad.
- It's also the reason he continues doing big-budget Hollywood movies, despite not really getting the "American humor" and accusations by the Chinese community that he's "selling out" by playing the funny Chinese man. The massive salary enables him to fund his Asian movies as well as continue his charitable work. He has said he prefers the indie Hong Kong dramas that he works on, such as Shinjuku Incident, which his Hollywood films help pay for.
- Chevy Chase with Community. Despite the critical acclaim and devoted fanbase, Chase made little secret of his discontent with being on the show, creator Dan Harmon, and sitcoms in general ("the lowest form of television"). He stated outright that the paycheck and his cast members were the only things that kept him around. He finally left the show after four seasons. (Ironically, number four was the de-Harmonized season, and he also quit because he was irritated with the Flanderization that Pierce had suffered.)
- It's pretty much why Jessica Chastain lent her voice to Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted:
There was a couch I wanted to buy and I had no time in my schedule to do another film. I was doing so much press last yearnote , thinking, "How am I going to pay my rent?" Also, I had to buy a new couch. My agent said, "I don't know if you're interested, but they're having auditions for an animated film..." I've always wanted to do an animated film... So I went in and auditioned and then I got the call that I got the part. And I got the couch!
- John Cleese founded the company Video Arts to make corporate training videos. When asked why, he said it was because he discovered that businesses would pay loads of money for him to do the things he did well, write and act.
- George Clooney keeps a picture of himself from Batman & Robin in his office to remind himself to never take anything solely for the money ever again but says he doesn't regret making the movie.
- Glenn Close said she only did Guardians of the Galaxy for this. Though she also admitted it seemed like a fun experience, and even signed a contract to appear in more Marvel movies.
- Ray Combs hosted Family Challenge because he was deep in debt from his comedy clubs closing, a car accident, and being let go from Family Feud.
- Peter Cook agreed to do a US TV pilot purely for the money, believing it wouldn't sell — but unfortunately (for him) The Two of Us (a Transatlantic Equivalent of the British comedy Two's Company) sold and become his only sitcom on either side of the Atlantic.
- Joseph Cotten obviously had the same motives as Laurence Olivier when he began taking roles in a bunch of tawdry Exploitation Films in his later years, but going from Citizen Kane and The Third Man to Lady Frankenstein and Guyana: Cult of the Damned is quite a drop-off.
- Joan Crawford, for much of her life, was an in-demand actress who reigned at the box office. However, after she got fired from Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, originally intended to be the Spiritual Successor to Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, no one can deny that her film choices later in life were less motivated by the need for fame and more influenced by cold, hard cash (which was apparently caused by her star power fading and her being ousted from the board of Pepsi, formerly run by her deceased husband). This would explain why she went from dramatic leading roles to scenery-chewing in various cheap horror films produced by William Castle or Herman Cohen, as well as appearances in several short-lived television series — although she did also appear in the most guest-star laden episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The Five Daughters Affair").
- This Woman Is Dangerous she only did because her house had a mortgage and her children were in school. She later disowned it.
- In the latter part of her career she starred in a string of B-horror movies because she needed the money, lamenting that they were a far cry from the days when she made thousands a week as an in-demand actress. As Neil Deagle of Bad Movie Night explained about Trog (her final film), "It's really sad to see such a huge star (like her) be consigned to the Z-grade abyss of films like this. But, hey, a girl's gotta eat."
- Though often cited as Crawford's lowest moment as an actor, Trog is in some ways an inversion: the director was a personal friend of hers and she did the movie more as a favor to him than in need of a paycheck. She was paid very well for the movie too, and a good portion of the budget was spent to ensure she had her own wardrobe van.
- David Cross has been very upfront about the fact that his participation in the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise has been motivated by money, noting his salary from the first film was more money than any of his other projects had ever brought in combined and helped him buy a new house. However, he seems to have had enough with the third film which he called "the most unpleasant experience I've ever had in my professional life," and he even asked people to not watch it in theaters on Conan.
- Averted until fairly recently by Billy Crudup, who only made the movies that he wanted to, because he made an astronomical amount of money by being the voice of the "For everything else, there's Mastercard," commercials.
- Jamie Lee Curtis had this to say about Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later in 2018: "H20 started out with best intentions, but it ended up being a money gig. The film had some good things in it. It talked about alcoholism and trauma, but I ended up really doing it for the paycheck."
- Charles Dance has done some films he's not proud of. In a quote taken from the London Evening Standard he said "I've done some appalling films. Junk is absolutely the right word. You do what you can with the stuff you're given. It's a misconception that actors make choices. For all but the most privileged few, the only choice is to work or not to work." He said of playing Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child, "It put the old bank balance up a bit!"
- When asked why he did Stargate, Jaye Davidson said, "I needed the money."
- Originally, he had no intention of acting again after The Crying Game. So when he was offered a role in Stargate, he insisted on a $1 million salary, figuring there'd be no way they'd be willing to pay him that much. But his offer was accepted, and he decided that it'd be nice to have some financial security, so he took the role.
- Ditto for James Spader, who found the script "awful". "Acting, for me, is a passion, but it's also a job, and I've always approached it as such. I have a certain manual-labourist view of acting. There's no shame in taking a film because you need some fucking money."
- This was originally the reason why John de Lancie took the role of Discord in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He had completely forgotten about the role, recorded months earlier, by the time the fan mail started pouring in. Upon interacting with the fanbase, he changed his mind somewhat, and not only expressed willingness to reprise his role, but also brought his own connections and resources to help make a documentary about the fans (though he was not happy when 4chan uploaded said film onto The Pirate Bay just to spite him, and the combination of that plus a horrible convention experience — where he and the other actors didn't get paid — led him to break off contact again).
- Julie Delpy stated that she only made An American Werewolf in Paris because "I got paid a lot of money; let's face it, a girl's got to eat." Delpy admitted it was " just a campy, stupid little movie", but despite the experience being so miserable that she remained away from Hollywood, she says it's not an Old Shame because "it allowed me to spend time writing".
- Gérard Depardieu stars in an average of 3.6 movies a year, most of them probably to pay his bills. There's a rhyming lament of the American Foreign-Film viewer that goes: "I fear I shall never view, a French film without Depardieu." Admittedly, it rhymes only if you pronounce him incorrectly.
- Johnny Depp for four seasons of his six-season contract on 21 Jump Street.
- Stephen Dillane has admitted in an interview that he didn't understand Game of Thrones, and that he only did it for the money.
- Brad Dourif admits to pretty much taking any role he can for a paycheck.
"I'm a whore. If they have a check and camera and a script and stuff for me to say, I am mostly there, unless I just can't take it."
- Why Lesley-Anne Down played Stephanie Rogers on Dallas:
(T)hey paid me a quarter of a million dollars for seven days' work over ten weeks. What do you think I am, darling? Stupid?!
- In an online chat about the 2006 Poseidon remake, Richard Dreyfuss had this memorable exchange:
What attracted you to this film?
Did anything in particular stand out about it?
The money they were offering me.
- It was enough for him to take a break from acting and teach for a few years, although at the time he said he was done for good.
- Ali Mac Graw said this is why she did Dynasty (1981).
- José Ferrer (father of Miguel), who went from an Oscar-winning performance in Cyrano de Bergerac, and acclaimed films like Moulin Rouge (1952), The Caine Mutiny and Lawrence of Arabia, to roles in The Swarm, Dune (1984) and Draculas Dog, alongside television work of variable quality. Citing financial woes as the reason for such a dismal resume, Ferrer commented that "I made a few good movies in the '50s, then went into freefall."
- Henry Fonda went from Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes of Wrath and Once Upon a Time in the West to The Swarm, Meteor and other films of even worse quality.
- Harrison Ford is still one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood (even though he's in semi-retirement), earning tens of millions per year on projects like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Cowboys & Aliens. Yet, he's also spent a large amount of time camping it up in films like Hollywood Homicide, Firewall and K-19: The Widowmaker (which he received a record salary for). He's also starred in Japandering commercials for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. It's a safe bet that if he isn't starring in an indie film or one of his past franchise roles, he's probably doing it for the paycheck.
- Especially confirmed in the case of Firewall; "I had to do it. They gave me so much money, it would've just been rude."
- When promoting Ender's Game on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno asked Ford about his involvement with The Expendables 3. Ford says, "They asked me if I wanted to be in the movie, they gave me a reason that I should be..." *Leno rubs his thumbs and fingers together, signifying "money", Ford nods.* "That's a good enough reason."
- Michael J. Fox said that after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, his thinking during that time was "I'd better do as much movies as I can before I can no longer act", and started accepting roles for movies that, in the end, weren't very good.
- Morgan Freeman said he only did Batman Begins for the money. The fact that that movie and its two sequels, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, in which he also appeared, turned out to be successful financially and critically may have been a nice surprise for him.
- Ava Gardner made it clear this was why she did The Cassandra Crossing.
- Richard Gere told Barbara Walters that he appeared in An Officer and a Gentleman for the money.
- John Gielgud: Emmy winner. Grammy winner. Oscar winner. Tony winner. Acclaimed actor and director. Knight of the realm. Connoisseur of fine champagne. By one account, he was paid one million dollars for a single day's work.
- He originally and consistently refused to star in Arthur, but the producers kept upping his fee until he really couldn't turn it down. In the end, he won an Academy Award for the role. He returned for a cameo in the sequel, presumably for even more money.
- By most accounts, Gielgud thought little of film acting generally and mainly took roles for money, regardless of their quality. Which explains his participation in Quest for Camelot
- Danny Glover has over 100 credits on his resume, and most after 1998 (Lethal Weapon 4, Beloved, voice roles on Antz and The Prince of Egypt) seem like they were chosen only to get a paycheck.
- This is why it was said about Whoopi Goldberg that "nobody like a paycheck like her." On the other hand, she's one of only sixteen people to win the EGOT (an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.)
- Goldberg hadn't even been the first choice for Sister Act (which was conceived as a vehicle for Bette Midler) but the movie was such a huge hit that she was immediately approached to star in a sequel. She agreed in exchange for not only $7 million but also studio financing for a pet project of hers, a film adaptation of the stage musical Sarafina!.
- Kim Basinger's situation after backing out of Boxing Helena was the main reason Goldberg settled for a massive paycheck on Theodore Rex. She agreed to do it, saw the script, tried walking out, and decided "rich and ashamed" beat "broke and principled". She even negotiated a raise for herself, being paid $7 million (a hike from the $5 million she was originally promised), which must have looked nice against the $20 million lawsuit she would have faced had she dropped out.
- Reportedly, when Bobcat Goldthwait was given a script of the movie Hot to Trot, he wrote "Why would I do this?" on the cover. His agent responded by drawing a dollar sign over it.
- Matthew Goode said that Leap Year was "turgid" and the only reasons he did it were for money and so he could see his family more often.
- Cuba Gooding Jr.: Academy Award-winning actor and well-paid star of Snow Dogs, Boat Trip, Norbit, Daddy Day Camp and countless Direct to Video films.
- Can there be any other reason for Oscar and Emmy Award-winning Louis Gossett Jr. appearing in the Dolph Lundgren vehicle The Punisher (1989) and a slew of Iron Eagle sequels?
- Gossett himself pointed out that a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar is something of a curse; smaller projects think they can't afford you, and larger projects don't think you can open a film on your own.
- Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars is one of the most notable examples of this trope ever. His contract was for 2% of Lucas' own 1/5 share of the film's gross earnings, which ended up (unexpectedly, to most observers) being among the most lucrative film deals ever made. This tempered his later opinion of the film; he deeply resented being identified with a film he vocally didn't respect, but had to admit he owed his later ability to be very picky with roles to the resulting financial independence. Guinness and his estate have made tens of millions of dollars off the saga in the years hence.
- Many of Gene Hackman's roles were like this. A good example was the film Lucky Lady, which was a film that he didn't even want to do until Fox offered him $1.25 million (a lot of money in 1975) to make it. He decided that it would be obscene not to take the offer and accepted the part.
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was another one — he admitted to co-star Jon Cryer that that was the main reason he signed on.
- British actress Abigail Hardingham (sometimes credited as Abi Hardingham) has appeared in many British Series, some of which didn't get good ratings from critics, but admitted that if the paycheck was good, she'd do it. She's been acting since she was 16 during The Turn Of The Millennium, making her career Older Than They Think for many.
- Richard Harris took on a third-billed role in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) for a hefty paycheck, a chance to act opposite Marlon Brando and a free trip to Tahiti.
- He took on the title role in Cromwell, a casting choice that raised many eyebrows, as he was a hedonistic proudly patriotic Irishman playing a puritan who once committed genocide in Ireland. The salary was simply too good to pass up.
- This is why Deadwood star John Hawkes played what was essentially a bit part in season six of Lost — his role was literally just repeating what another actor said and for that, he got paid a lot and filmed in Hawaii.
- As an actor, Lance Henriksen has appeared in well over 100 films. Many of these have been great (Aliens, The Terminator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Near Dark). Many more, however, have been pretty dire (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, Vampires: Out For Blood and Hellraiser: Hellworld to name but a few). He even worked in a Brazilian soap opera about mutants. Henriksen is a king of direct-to-DVD and seems to specialize in mostly low budget SF, horror, fantasy, or action flicks — films in which he is very often the only notable actor on board. Henriksen is also often very guilty of phoning-it-in, and frequently plays the same deadpan, imposing, monotone father-figure character he's been portraying for the last thirty-or-so years. He's appeared in multiple cheap cash-ins on pre-existing popular franchises (see The Da Vinci Treasure and Pirates Of Treasure Island, both released in 2006) has provided voice duties for many animated series and video games, appeared in adverts and also found time along the way to star in Chris Carter's grim (but mostly great) pseudo-X-Files spinoff series Millennium for three years. Henriksen has admitted to taking some less-than-stellar roles for the money because he owed alimony to his ex-wife. He's undeniably one of those actors and when he is good, such as in Millennium, he is very good.
- German film director Werner Herzog took the role of The Client in The Mandalorian solely to finance his next film project, admitting that he had never seen any Star Wars property beyond a trailer or two. However, he has stated he enjoyed the role and series, being very effusive with his praise for all involved.
- Eamonn Holmes explained his appearance on Mongrels by saying he didn't even look at the script, only the fee.
- Anthony Hopkins said it in an interview on Conan O'Brien. Conan said to Anthony that "some actors choose movies based on who they'll be working with, or who's catering the set. What makes you choose a movie?" Hopkins' response was "Well, money." After the major success of The Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins' very next movie was (drum roll) Freejack!
- When Dennis Hopper was asked by his younger son on why he appeared in awful productions such as Super Mario Bros., he replied it was to buy him shoes. His son replied he didn't need them that much.
- Bob Hoskins also said that was the only movie he did for the money. And yes, he hated the film too (see also John Leguizamo).
- Hopper probably starred in the box-office flop Meet The Deedles for the same reason.
- Though surprisingly averted with Waterworld, which he admitted to liking. He believed the reason that it bombed in the US was that the filmmakers announced that it was overbudgeted, shooting themselves in the foot.
- Ice-T recalled one interview on a hip-hop show where the host made fun of him for doing Tank Girl. He replied, "I was paid $800,000 for that movie." The host moved on.
- In his comedy special in Hawaii, Gabriel Iglesias mentioned that when he signed on to do a show in Singapore, he was unaware that English is actually the dominant language there. When asked why he would agree to do a show when he didn't even know if they spoke English, he replies, "Because the check was fat. And I'm a little whore."
- Invoked with his performances in Saudi Arabia, which he initially thought was a joke offer. He told his agent to ask for a ridiculous amount of money — to be transferred that day — to make sure they were serious. The result? "Hey Gabe, Ridiculous just called back."
- Jeremy Irons' appearances in Dungeons & Dragons and Eragon are motivated either by this or a desire to be out-acted by his eyebrows. It's a toss-up. According to Wikiquote, when asked why he took his Dungeons & Dragons role, Irons replied: "Are you kidding? I'd just bought a castle, I had to pay for it somehow!"
- Jeremy has said that he frequently does movies only to pay for his castle. He also did Beautiful Creatures to pay for the castle.
- Michael Ironside has never made any bones about the fact that he takes jobs based on the pay he's offered, and once joked that he took his role as The Dragon in Total Recall because he wanted to buy his oldest daughter a new car for her 16th birthday.
Michael Ironside: "Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean [Connery], Chris [Lambert]... we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it (the script) read as if it had been written by a thirteen-year-old boy. But I'd never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it. And I think I succeeded."
- This crossed over with Awesome, Dear Boy and Ham and Cheese in the case of Highlander II: The Quickening.
- Famke Janssen appeared in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters because she wanted to pay off her mortgage.
- James Earl Jones has always been very upfront about doing anything that comes with a salary attached. Lampshaded by his appearance in Two and a Half Men: "To be completely honest, I didn't know Charlie Harper. But any man who, with his dying breath, would set aside $25,000 and a first-class air ticket so I could deliver his eulogy is aces in my book!"
- Raúl Juliá taking the role of M. Bison in the Street Fighter movie was motivated by knowledge of his imminent death from stomach cancer, and a wish to leave his children well off — in fact, he let his sons choose which film he'd perform in, and they chose Street Fighter because they were fans of the game. His amazing Magnificent Bastard performance in the role is one of many elements that made the film hilariously awful instead of just simply bad.
- Julia's accepting of roles as Gomez in the 1991 and 1993 Addams Family movies (particularly the latter) are also attributed to this circumstance.
- Similarly, he was in the cheesy Overdrawn at the Memory Bank entirely due to his support of public television. He was also the only bright spot in the entire movie, and when Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed on it shortly after his death, they went out of their way to point out that they respected Julia and were mocking the movie itself, not his performance.
- Ben Kingsley has been in many bad films, such as Thunderbirds, The Love Guru and A Sound of Thunder. His excuse? His children have gotten used to eating. And sometimes actors are susceptible to the Rule of Cool: Kingsley says he took BloodRayne because he had never had the chance to play a vampire.
- Klaus Kinski says it himself in one documentary. "Every time when I was out of money, I would just make any movie, I really didn't care. And suddenly the newspaper write I am the best murderer, the best this one, the best that one. And it isn't even too megalomanic to say 'Sure, you idiots. I can do all that. Without even trying.'" Kinski was offered the supporting role of evil Nazi torturer Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but he turned it down in favor of a lead role in long-forgotten killer snake film Venom (1981), as the salary was higher. His co-star? Oliver Reed, who had to pay his bar bill somehow. He also turned down a role in a Federico Fellini (!) movie because the cash was too low, by sending him a telegram saying "Go fuck yourself."
- Nastassja Kinski is definitely her father's daughter in this respect. Hence why Diane Kruger is in Inglourious Basterds instead of her.
- Yaphet Kotto admitted this is the reason why he reprised his Alien role of Parker in Alien: Isolation.
- Averted by respected actor Frank Langella, who has denied that his part in Masters of the Universe was a purely mercenary decision. He states that he quite enjoyed playing a cape-swirling villain, and that it made him a hero to his son.
- John Larroquette in 50 Cent's Gun as the rich gun runner Sam, not to mention his appearance in Southland Tales as Vaughn Smallhouse.
- While starring in House, Hugh Laurie openly spoke about not wanting to be locked into a long-term contract and disliking being away from his family for months at a time. Fox kept upping his salary until he was the most highly paid dramatic TV actor in the world.
- Cloris Leachman admitted in a now-lost interview she only did kids movies and voice-acting stints for the money.
- Denis Leary on the Ice Age series: "I've been around long enough to think ahead, so I'm like, 'Ah, f***, the guy dies.' As an actor, I'm like, 'Well, I get to do a big juicy death scene, but I could be out on the sequels which is where the real money is." He also has mentioned that he also does these movies for his nieces and nephews.
- Christopher Lee made a career out of doing any role at a reasonable price without excessive prima-donnaism. In other words, if you could fork up the cash, you'd get a classy talent who'd play any role (if you need any more proof, please watch The Castle of Fu Manchu). Any role, that is, except Dracula. He never did that again (although in his later years, his age made him increasingly uncomfortable with flying, so his roles were limited to the UK, such as when the team on The Hobbit accommodated him when he reprised his role as Saruman). He also voiced his displeasure with some of his choices; while filming Gremlins 2: The New Batch, he apologized to director Joe Dante for appearing in the sequel to his film The Howling.
- Stewart Lee's sudden appearance on a lot of Quiz Shows in 2006 (including an appearance on 8 Out of 10 Cats which he later described as "the worst moment of his career") was just to pay off his wedding. Other than that Lee tends to focus on low key events with only slim profit margins.
- Eugene Levy is not as top-tiered an actor as many of those on this list... still, you'd think a man with two Emmys and a Grammy could do better than New York Minute, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Bringing Down the House, The Man, and the endless appearances in Straight-To-DVD American Pie sequels. Several of Levy's SCTV co-stars could qualify in this regard, particularly Martin Short.
- Ray Liotta has said that the only reason he voiced Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was because of the money. In an MTV interview, he admitted that he's never even seen or played the game. In another interview he was asked if could do the role again, knowing it was a going to be hit. What would he have done differently? His reply was "Ask for more money".
- While Peter Lorre's career probably never reached its full potential to begin with (due to typecasting, studio practices, and a distinctive appearance), it definitely reached a low point after the failure of his only directorial effort Der Verlorene in the early 1950s. After that, he took whatever roles he could get because he desperately needed the money after losing most of his early earnings through bad investments and a corrupt accountant, and he had to provide for himself, his family, and cover the costs of various attempts to cure his morphine addiction. Lorre warned friends to never leave money management up to somebody else and often said that he would have retired from acting if he hadn't needed the money so badly.
- Dolph Lundgren only did In the Name of the King: Two Worlds as he needed the money to pay his lawyers during his divorce.
- British fashion model Sarah Lysander (a Stage Name due to an Overly Long Name, not to be confused with Sarah Carter) takes this Up to Eleven by taking as many modelling shoots as she can get from her agents IMG Models. However, it was mainly to fund her swimwear venture Lysander Swim. For her, she lives off this trope.
- Michael Madsen said he's only been in six good movies — Kill Bill, Species, Free Willy, Thelma & Louise, Reservoir Dogs and Donnie Brasco. He explains due to both "I'm just hard to please" and "I've made some crap but you've got to pay the bills".
- John Mahoney has said this of his role on Frasier. The money from that show meant that he could afford to appear in, and sometimes finance, the artistic plays that were his true passion.
- Dean Martin didn't really want to do his eponymous variety show but, at the same time, didn't want to say "No" outright. He asked for an exorbitant salary and that he not be required to rehearse or shoot retakes among other demands. When NBC agreed to every single one, he felt that he was honor-bound to go through with the show.
- Steve Martin has admitted that he only does films like Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther (2006) so he can finance his writing and art collection, and it's more fun to keep starring in comedies than to try breaking out as a dramatic actor.
- Practically any film that the Marx Brothers accepted to make together after A Day at the Races was made to raise money to cover for Chico Marx's recurring debts and expenses. This is especially true of their final film, Love Happy, which was not originally planned to include Groucho and Chico.
- When Hattie McDaniel, who won an Academy Award for playing a house slave in Gone with the Wind, was asked why she kept taking roles that cast her as a stereotypical black servant in films and radio shows, she famously responded, "Why should I complain about making $700note a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making $7 a week being one."
- Ian McKellen, early in the 2000s, was a relatively respectable version of this: huge blockbusters, but well-reviewed ones, such as the X-Men and The Lord of the Rings movies. He seemed to quite enjoy his higher profile and remarked on how funny it was he and his cohorts from his stage days were known for these sorts of roles. Of course, he's also done things like The Da Vinci Code in between things like appearing with Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot on stage.
- When he was first offered the role of John Steed on The Avengers (1960s), Patrick Macnee turned it down to pursue a career as a television producer. The producers kept coming back to him, so to deter them, he asked for (at the time) an exorbitant amount of money, more than an actor had ever been paid for British TV up to that time. To his great surprise, the producers accepted his asking price, and the rest is history.
- Ray Milland had an illustrious film career when he was younger, winning a Best Actor award for The Lost Weekend in 1945 and appearing in a clutch of other classics like The Uninvited and Dial M for Murder. But as he got old he started to pop up in lots and lots of cheap, bad sci-fi and horror like, well, Frogs. When asked why, he answered, "For the money, old boy!"
- Helen Mirren was once asked why she appeared in Teaching Mrs. Tingle. The answer? "Because they gave me a shitload of money to do it."
- According to Julianne Moore, the only reason why she agreed to do The Lost World: Jurassic Park — she thought the script was juvenile and has had a long-term mutual hatred for her co-star Jeff Goldblum, apparently — was because she needed to pay off a divorce settlement and her paycheck came at just the right time.
- This is likely the only reason why Demi Moore starred in Nothing but Trouble.
- Roger Moore did Boat Trip for the money and for a free vacation.
- Eddie Murphy agreed to appear as a "Strategic Guest Star" in the very-forgettable film Best Defense. When he hosted Saturday Night Live soon after, he slammed it as "the worst film in the history of everything" and justified his role by saying "If you were paid to do Best Defense as much as they paid me to do Best Defense, you'd do Best Defense too!". (Though there was also some Awesome, Dear Boy involved — he wanted to work with Dudley Moore.note ) In one interview, he admitted that The Adventures of Pluto Nash wasn't very good, but went on to say that it was hard to really regret it when "your pocket goes out to here" while holding his palm several inches away from his pocket. Let's not forget that an interviewer asked Murphy whether he'd have preferred to have the Academy Award for Dreamgirls or his paycheck from Norbit. He replied that while an Oscar statuette would look nice in his living room, it wouldn't pay the bills.
- Money was one of Bill Murray's reasons for taking on the role of Garfield in the Garfield movies. (The other two being the challenge of voice-over work and a script he thought was being written by Joel Coen of "The Coen Brothers"... Whoops.)
- Mike Myers backed out of a film based upon Dieter, the Saturday Night Live character, and was sued by Universal Pictures for $3.8 million. His decision to back out of the $20 million contract was an inversion of this trope; he was unhappy with the script (despite having written it himself) and didn't feel the film would be of a standard acceptable for moviegoers — as a compromise for the studio, he accepted to do The Cat in the Hat. If only he'd had similar scruples when he got the idea for The Love Guru...
- Alan Napier described this as his reason for playing Alfred in Batman (1966). He had no interest in the series until his agent mentioned a salary of over $100,000. Though Napier expressed pride and fondness for the role later on.
- Why Liam Neeson agreed to do more Taken films after the first. He was paid $15 million for Taken 2, and $20 million for Taken 3.
- This appears to be why Leslie Nielsen starred in a lot of critically-panned films later in his life.
- Jack Nicholson's $60 million deal for the 1989 Batman movie included a $6 million base salary, top billing, and both a percentage of the gross and merchandising. It remains the single-largest film salary record. Around the time the Joel Schumacher movies were hitting theatres and there were projects for a follow-up if Batman & Robin wasn't so bad, Nicholson said he would consider reprising the role of The Joker for $150 million. Which makes sense. After seeing Schumacher's Batman movies, wouldn't you ask an exorbitant wage to shame yourself on his next movie? Apparently, when Danny DeVito was in negotiations to appear as the Penguin in Batman Returns, he called Nicholson to ask his advice on the character and the contract. Jack's response? "Try to get my deal". Then again Jack Nicholson did go on record for saying he enjoyed playing the Joker and was a big supporter of then-rookie director Tim Burton during filming. So while the money got him to do it, he didn't hate or feel indifferent toward role like most others on the list. He reportedly liked the role so much that he had wanted to reprise the part in the ill-fated Batman Beyond live-action movie that WB had considered making. He was also upset when Heath Ledger took over the part in The Dark Knight.
- Speaking of Jack Nicholson: While making The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Roger Corman offered him a secondary but significant role. Looking at the shooting schedule, however, Jack noticed a small bit part — two scenes and one line of dialog — which due to a Good Bad Bug in the Screen Actors Guild regulations would get him paid for five weeks of work. He took the small role and the big paycheck instead.
- Nick Nolte has said that he sold his soul by agreeing to make I Love Trouble strictly for the money and that it's his worst film, which explains how his attitude on set was so bad that his costar, Julia Roberts, still says he's the worst actor she's ever worked with.
- Comedian Jim Norton pretty much says he only does movies for the money.
- Carroll O'Connor pulled off a massive version of this during the sixth season of All in the Family. During the hiatus between seasons, O'Connor lobbied for CBS to greatly increase his salary, as well as give him more creative control. Studio executives balked at his demands, and production of the season started without him (which led to a three-episode arc where Archie goes missing on the way to a convention). CBS head Fred Silverman successfully convinced O'Connor to come back at a much higher salary. By the time Archie Bunker's Place began, O'Connor was the highest-paid cast member (and, by the end of the first season, the only original cast member) and an executive producer, and rode the salary bump through four more seasons of diminishing ratings.
- Gary Oldman is known for driving a particularly hard bargain. He won't even read most scripts without a hefty offer on the table, and he's known for having almost bowed out of the Harry Potter franchise over salary disputes. Sadly, the makers of Quest for Camelot, and Lost in Space must have been aware of this bargain prior to hiring him. He also decided against credit when he wasn't allowed top billing alongside Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal. Further, if you are not a union production, no amount of money will get you his services, as George Lucas found out when he offered Oldman the role of General Grevious in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith note
- Oldman reportedly only took the role of Sid Vicious in Alex Cox's Sid & Nancy because it would pay well, having no particular fondness for the material or for punk music. That's not to say he didn't give it his all — he lost frightening amounts of weight to match Vicious' heroin-addict figure and reportedly stayed in character some nights after shooting while going clubbing with the cinematographer. That, and he gave the best and most faithful performance of anyone in the film.
- Of course, the main reason he signed onto Potter in the first place was that he hadn't done a film in over a year and desperately needed the money.
- The Trope Namer is Laurence Olivier, who was determined to leave a comfortable inheritance to his family and was more than willing to take unusual roles if they paid well, especially in his later career. The two most striking examples are his portrayals of Zeus in Clash of the Titans and Douglas MacArthur in Sun Myung Moon's (yes, the Unification Church cult leader) terrible production of Inchon, for which it is said he insisted on his salary being paid weekly in a Briefcase Full of Money delivered by helicopter. He also appeared as a hologram in a terrible Rock Opera called Time. Olivier's posthumous performance in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow may be the logical extension of this trope.
- Timothy Olyphant signed on for Live Free or Die Hard and Hitman because his TV show Deadwood had just gotten cancelled after he had bought a house. The film's follow-up Hitman: Agent 47 is a Continuity Reboot partly because Olyphant didn't want to reprise his role.
- Shaquille O'Neal in Kazaam. As the man himself put it:
Shaq: I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, "Hey, here's $7 million, come in and do this genie movie." What am I going to say, no? note So I did it.
- Patton Oswalt pretty much only acts for the money or the anecdotes, his stand-up work being his real passion.
- He discussed this trope in his special Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, talking about how he once performed at a casino for a "sacrilegious" amount of money, and the audience was so drunk that all he did was listen while they shouted his past roles at him for 30 minutesnote . The casino was so pleased with the reception that they said they would pay him to come back any time he wanted.
- Betsy Palmer appeared in Friday the 13th (1980) because she was in desperate need of a new car. After she read the script she called the film "a piece of shit". Like Palmer above, she eventually expressed pride and fondness for the role later on, going as far as to appear in horror conventions several years before her passing.
- You now have the answer to the question "Why the hell was Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal?"
- Ron Perlman also falls into this category. After a fallow period where he didn't work for several years, he'll now take almost any role offered to him, no matter how bad the project. Then, he turns around and makes movies with Guillermo del Toro. Film truly is a diverse medium. He has also hinted that a big factor in his taking the role of Hellboy was that, as an actor in his fifties, he had never gotten the girl at the end of the movie. Until that one.
Perlman: I'm doing weapons training for this piece of shit, then I go to Romania to shoot another piece of shit, then come back to shoot my part in this piece of shit...[sighs]...What can I say? My wife loves shoes.
- Brad Pitt was very vocal about how much he hated The Devil's Own. According to him, it was "the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking — if you can even call it that — that I've ever seen" and he also called the film a "disaster". Which combined with his weak performance in the film (not to mention his totally ridiculous-sounding Irish accent) makes it clear that money was his only real motivation for starring in that film.
- Donald Pleasence says it all:
There was a sort of horror picture that I did called The Mutations. I think I did that solely for the money. I have six daughters, and they can be quite expensive, so one has to keep working and be able to pay the bills.
- Christopher Plummer in the Italian B-movie Star Wars knock-off Starcrash. Well, the money plus an opportunity to visit Rome.
- Richard Pryor said yes to The Toy and Superman III for this reason.
- Oliver Reed ended up doing a lot of B movies towards the end of his life, including an awful adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher, as his drinking habits and wild lifestyle meant many mainstream directors would not give him a role.
- Jeremy Renner stated that a major reason why he chose to play Hawkeye in The Avengers is because superhero films are quite popular nowadays, so at least it would pay the bills. That and he's a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he really wanted to play a superhero after seeing Iron Man.
- Jean Reno. Granted, not all of his latest movies are bad, but the times of Leon: the Professional and Ronin seem very far.
- Burt Reynolds was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1996 after being $10 million in debt, so Reynolds vowed to cut back on expenses and to pay back every single dime, and he's appeared in over 40 films since, and it's clear that he starred in most of them (Dungeon Siege, Without A Paddle, The Longest Yard remake, The Dukes of Hazzard film adaptation) for the money.
- Of course, this leads to some bizarre logic on Reynolds' part. He took on one role just for the money and was so ashamed of the result that he fired his agent. That film was the career resurrecting Boogie Nights.
- He once admitted that he did The Cannonball Run for the money and as a favor to his friend Hal Needham.
- John Rhys-Davies lives and breathes this trope. He's a fantastic actor who often winds up in Direct to Video B-movies and was one of the more prominent actors to appear in FMV games in the 1990s. Basically, if you have a paycheck, no matter how small, he'll show up in it. Fortunately, he's also been in some great A-class titles too.
- Molly Ringwald may be the undisputed queen of this trope. Since her fall from stardom in the early nineties, her filmography has consisted of countless television movies, guest spots, direct-to-video releases, cameos, indie features, and Jem and the Holograms. And she's Archie Andrews' mother.
- Eric Roberts has worked a lot since his 1995 arrest ("44 movies on the slate for 2016. FORTY-FOUR◊. (...) That is more movies than Marlon Brando made in his lifetime.") And movies like The Dark Knight, The Expendables and Inherent Vice are the exception, as Nathan Rabin sums up:
According to his IMDB page, Roberts is scheduled to appear in no less than 41 films this year . Seriously. Obviously, some of those films will not be released this year, or ever, but thats still a staggering volume of work for an actor outside the world of pornography.
- Joe Rogan once referred to Fear Factor, a show which he hosted, as "Joe Gets Paid".
"This is me, every day at work: '...REALLY. And they're going to do this on camera? What the fuck is wrong with these people? ...No, dude, I got a mortgage; mic me up."
- Tim Roth in Virgin Territory. Haven't heard of it? Roth breathes a sigh of relief.
- Richard Roundtree in Steel.
- Paul Rudd is very frank about how he's had to appear in bad films like Over Her Dead Body and Overnight Delivery because he needed the money. He also once flew to Hong Kong on short notice, bleached his hair, and hammed it up in Gen-Y Cops after he and his wife realized that they didn't have enough money to cover their rent.
- For years, Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to do a third Terminator movie if James Cameron wasn't directing. Figuring that the character was as much Arnold's as it was his, James just told him to go for it and ask for a lot of money. The $30 million for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines he received are still an upfront record for a single movie (though Tom Hanks is rumored to have received along the lines of $29-59 million for Angels & Demons). Arnold has admitted he loves to spend Hollywood's money. Almost all of his salaries since the first Terminator movie rose from $11 million to $25 million.
- One can assume this was the reason he decided to be the host of the New Celebrity Apprentice.
- George C. Scott stated that that was why he signed on to the FOX sitcom Mr. President (his first TV series since East Side, West Side).
- Peter Sellers did several ill-fated films and TWA ads in the early 1970s largely because he was nearly broke after a string of late '60s flops and unwise money management. It was also a big reason he agreed to revive The Pink Panther films with The Return of the Pink Panther in 1975, which turned things around. He did two additional sequels after that to rebuild his fortunes — but also to achieve the needed clout to get Being There made, crossing this over with Doing It for the Art.
- Chloë Sevigny explains her motivation for playing a Butch Lesbian in the TV Movie If These Walls Could Talk 2: "... yeah, I did that job. For money. I was paying my mom's mortgage. I've still never seen that movie. People say it's really good. We all gotta make a living."
- Slight variation: Michael Shanks claimed at a fan convention that he agreed to star in the Sci-Fi Original Movie Mega Snake (without even reading the script!) solely so he could get his US work visa renewed.
- William Shatner earned some money off of the Priceline adverts by being paid in stock when Priceline was still young (though not the hundreds of millions sometimes reported). Also notoriously true during those long, lean years in The '70s after he had been profoundly typecast by Star Trek but before his career resuscitation in The '80s. Obviously, this affected all of his castmates as well. Only Leonard Nimoy seemed to land on his feet, first getting a job across the Paramount lot at Mission: Impossible and then starring in well-attended stage productions of Fiddler on the Roof and, later, Equus, Vincent and a camped-up Sherlock Holmes play, meanwhile narrating the In Search Of... series. Even Star Trek itself was an example of this for Shatner. Known at the time for his guest appearances in various other shows (most famously The Twilight Zone (1959)), he turned down the role of Dr. Kildare, only to regret it a couple of years down the line when offers started drying up. Needing the financial stability of a regular job, he took the role of Captain James T. Kirk.
- Michael Sheen has made a serviceable career of juicy dramatic roles, including playing Tony Blair several times on the small screen and the big screen, plus solid hits like The Damned United, Frost/Nixon and Midnight in Paris. On the other hand, he's Chewing the Scenery in glorified bit parts from films such as Alice in Wonderland (2010), TRON: Legacy and Underworld (2003). There's no reason why he would be doing this unless he wanted a paycheck so that the filmmakers could capitalize on his star power. In the case of Tron, he said he chose the role because he loves science fiction and enjoyed making it, and in the case of the Twilight movies, he did it for his daughter.
- Danny Slavin from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy stated that the only reason he agreed to play Leo was so he could make money to go to law school. He only returned for the Power Rangers Wild Force episode "Forever Red" as a favor to the show's producer.
- After years of irresponsible spending and a heavy fine due to underpaying his taxes, Will Smith was nearly bankrupt when he was approached by NBC to create The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He accepted and it became the start of an extremely successful acting career.
- James Spader claims that this is the reason why he did his gig on The Office. He's also open about having a low opinion of the script for Stargate, in which he played Daniel Jackson.
- Brent Spiner signed up to play Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation figuring that remaking such a famous show was doomed to fail, so he'd be able to get money from doing the season and move onto something else.
- Sylvester Stallone starred in Over the Top purely to fulfil his contract with Cannon Films. He explained:
Sylvester Stallone: (Producer) Menahem Golan kept offering me more and more money, until I finally thought, "What the hell — no one will see it!"
- Comedian Doug Stanhope proudly says he hosted the final season of The Man Show strictly for the money.
- As he says in his stand-up act: "If you were offered $100,000 to kill a dying show, you're a fucking idiot if you turn it down!"
- He also compares it being on the last helicopters when Americans were fleeing Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
- Patrick Stewart as the hammy King Goobot in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Great Prince of the Forest in Bambi II, an over-the-top drug lord confined to a chair in Gunmen and 1996's Masterminds. Stewart's knowingly hammy scene-chewing is all part of the fun — he's clearly having a blast with it. He has said in interviews he loves "popcorn movies" like X-Men and Star Trek as much as he loves the stage and serious drama. To be fair, most of what Stewart does is because he just loves acting in general and has the habit of doing whatever he likes at the time, being serious drama to cornball comedy and everything in between. It's been said that he never takes on a role unless he wants to. Even before he was in Star Trek, Stewart took a role in Lifeforce (the naked space vampire movie) to pay for the replacement of a broken bay window at his house. He also took on a role in Wild Geese II because he just had an expensive maintenance job done in his kitchen.
- By the way, Stewart once recollected about accepting an award in Britain. While with other British stage actors, he said he was asked the same thing repeatedly about his Hollywood experiences — "How much do you get paid?"
- Ryan Stiles admitted in an interview that, despite having a fear of flying, he was willing to fly to the UK to do Whose Line Is It Anyway? because at the time he desperately needed the money.
- Donald Sutherland appeared in Animal House for this reason. He was so sure the film would flop that he took a straightforward salary over a percentage of the profits. This turned out to be a very poor decision.
- He also admitted in an interview in the '80s that he took a role in the forgotten 1981 Canadian comedy Gas because he was broke and needed the money.
- The Japanese actor Tetsuro Tamba was legendary for never turning down a paying role, no matter what it was in (he also never read the entire script for a movie, or memorized a script). He also founded a religion. Cool guy.
- Charlize Theron admitted in an interview that she starred in Hancock for the money.
- Alex Trebek signed onto host the short-lived 1981 game show Pitfall! after going through a bitter divorce coupled with the passing of his father. Despite leaping over several legal hurdles in his native Canada to get the job, the second of his two paychecks bounced due to parent company Catalena Productions going bankrupt mid-production. All was not lost as he went onto host Battlestars for NBC later that same year.
- Marisa Tomei has pretty much admitted herself that she enjoys money:
I don't prefer much of film over stage...The only thing I prefer is the paycheck.
- When Gerry Anderson asked Robert Vaughn's business partner Sherwood Price why Vaughn had signed on to do The Protectors if the writing was so bad, Price replied "Baby, the money's good." Which would explain a lot of his post-The Man from U.N.C.L.E. career.
- Abe Vigoda's role in Good Burger, most likely.
- Jon Voight as Principal Dimly in the Bratz movie, and the Big Bad Bill Biscane in Baby Geniuses 2. He produced those movies as well.
- Christopher Walken is honest about the fact that he never turns down a well-paying gig. This has led to his appearances in Joe Dirt, The Country Bears, Kangaroo Jack, Gigli, Envy, Click and the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives, just to name a few. He is also the best thing in each of these films. He also subverts this trope. He's said repeatedly in interviews that he takes any role offered to him as long as he has the time because he regards every film he works on as a learning experience. One can only guess what he learned from The Country Bears.
- David Warner. While TRON is acceptable, let's consider Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Privateer 2: The Darkening and of course, Quest of the Delta Knights.
Crow T. Robot (As David Warner): In it for the money, folks.
- Sigourney Weaver's involvement in Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection was motivated largely by this. After Aliens, Weaver had intended it to be the last role she would play as the character...until 20th Century Fox lured her back to the third film (after rejecting several scripts by other writers that didn't include her) with a much bigger payday and a producer's credit. Years later, during an interview, she responded to the question, "Why did you agree to do Alien: Resurrection?" by saying, "Because they drove a dump truck full of money to my house."
- Orson Welles willingly accepted an endless chain of well-paying bit parts in many films. Interestingly enough, he combined this trope with Doing It for the Art, as the money he made was used to finance his own film projects, which was the only way that he could have complete control over them.
- He hawked frozen peas and Paul Masson wine. His work on these commercials has been the subject of parody, most notably on The Critic and Animaniacs. That said, Welles enjoyed making most of these commercials, considering them a fun and easy way to make a buck; the "Frozen Peas" recording was an outlier prompted by an obnoxious director.
- One of Welles' last roles was voicing the Transformers: The Movie villain Unicron. While both the character and the performance are unforgettable, Welles himself viewed the production with contempt and could only recall it was a movie about "toys killing each other."
- He did the narration on the remastered version of Tales of Mystery and Imagination — Edgar Allan Poe by the Alan Parsons Project. It was straight wage work: the whole thing was arranged through agents, Welles was sent a script, and Parsons was sent a tape.
- He also narrated the frightfully awful, fundamentalist Christian dreck-fest, The Late, Great Planet Earth, with Hal Lindsey, and the cheesy, sensationalistic Nostradamus "documentary" The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.
- Ben Whishaw's quotes about replacing Colin Firth as Paddington in The Daily Mail saying that he has "no relationship to Paddington whatsoever" and attended the audition "begrudgingly" probably points to this trope as a reason why he signed on. Subverted to an extent, as that same interview revealed Whishaw's attitude turned into a case of So My Kids Can Watch since he has an 18-month-old niece, and his initial apprehension was due to previous bad experiences doing voice-over work. Once he started working he quite enjoyed himself.
- Robin Williams said he sometimes did movies only to pay the bills. Example: Old Dogs. He also admitted the reason he did The Crazy Ones was that he had "bills to pay".
- Subverted with regards to his voicing the Genie in the first Aladdin film, where he agreed to be paid at SAG scale and requested that Disney not utilize his character or performance excessively in the marketing. Disney naturally ignored the second request, which led to Williams refusing to return to the role in the first direct-to-video sequel (and the subsequent series) and only reprised it for the second sequel for $1 million, playing this trope straight. (Weirdly he then reprised the Genie one more time for a bunch of interstitial segments on One Saturday Morning called "Great Minds Think For Themselves", as well as in Disney's Math Quest with Aladdin; the motives for him doing so were never revealed.)
- Filipino actor Vic Sotto was unapologetic about My Little Bossings' Christmas Rushed, Merchandise-Driven production, saying he did make his audiences happy and what mattered was it sold well. As if making money was all the Metro Manila Film Festival would give a damn about, much to the umbrage of filmmakers who viewed the event as having degenerated into a dumping ground of films of questionable merit for masses who don't seem to care.
- John Carpenter:
- His and Debra Hill's work on the script for Halloween II (1981) was purely mercenary, as they felt that the first film was a standalone story. It's no surprise that he's described it as an inferior script, saying that the only thing that got him through writing it was a six-pack of Budweiser every morning.
- He has admitted that this is the entire reason why he produced the dreadful remake of The Fog, and why he was on set the entire time.
- He's said similar things about a planned remake of Big Trouble in Little China, being quoted as saying, "Im ambivalent about a remake... On the other hand, it depends on how much they pay me."
- Francis Ford Coppola: After making an expensive flop in One from the Heart, his entire career for nearly two decades was simply doing movies for the money. After getting it paid off, a decade-long break followed, and now he uses the money from his wine to make the movies he wants.
- Wes Craven had this to say about his involvement in The Hills Have Eyes Part II (The '80s one)
I'm sorry about The Hills Have Eyes, Part II. The reason I did that film was that I was dead broke and needed to do any film. I would have done Godzilla Goes to Paris.
- When asked in an interview what he hoped to achieve with his early movies, John Ford simply replied "a big check." He repeatedly maintained over the years that moviemaking was just a way for him to make a living, which he stuck with because it paid well and he found it easy.
- For David Mamet, The Untouchables was this. He had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross and director Brian De Palma told him now was the time to write the adaptation of an old TV show "for a shitload of money." Mamet agreed.
- Ben Ramsey, writer of the much-reviled anime adaptation Dragonball Evolution, admitted as much and apologized to fans when reached by an interviewer. "So Im not blaming anyone for Dragonball but myself," he said. "As a fanboy of other series, I know what its like to have something you love and anticipate be so disappointing."
- Brenda Hampton, creator of the lambasted show The Secret Life of the American Teenager has responded to the horrible critical reception by saying she'd rather have good ratings than good reviews.
- Screenwriter John Rogers had a game where he tried to sum up movies with one word. Regarding Catwoman (2004), in which he's one of the credited writers, he could only come up with "mortgage" (though the title of the post also notes "shame").
- This is the main concept behind Japandering. Many American celebrities have done commercials for other countries promoting energy drinks, whiskey, cars and pachinko machines, and everything in-between. Usually, they have clauses in their contract stating that these won't be shown anywhere overseas, but the invention of the Internet and Youtube has rendered that a moot point. These include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ben Stiller, Nicolas Cage, Charlize Theron, Kiefer Sutherland, Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and many, many others. When you realize it's good pay for one day's work, can you blame them?
- Michael Ironside doesn't do a lot of commercials, but the ones he has consented to tend to be several kinds of awesome.
- After years of being typecast, Adam West was willing to do anything for a paycheck, from being a human cannonball to making a commercial for an internet kiosk which turned out to be a big scam. Fortunately, Adam's career got better when he started, well, Adam Westing.
- Kate Mulgrew (Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager) defended herself after doing the voiceover for a geocentrist documentary trailer by stating that she was simply a voice for hire and wouldn't even have taken the job if she'd known what the documentary in question was actually about or who was involved in making it.
- Rik Mayall starred in a series of at least eight adverts for Nintendo in the UK in the early 1990s (see them here and here). He spent his vast fee on a house in an expensive area of London, which he named Nintendo Towers.
- With all due respect to Linda "(Christy Turlington and I) don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day" Evangelista, no supermodel has fewer issues about making money than Cindy Crawford (she once stated "Commercial is not a bad word to me"). She even did a spot for German railways.
- Almost certainly the reason behind James Mason's decision to appear in this advert for Thunderbird wine.
- Bob Hoskins appeared in a series of adverts for BT in the 1990s. In his own words, "For 500,000 reasons, all of them with the Queen's head on".
- When David Mitchell and Robert Webb were criticized for appearing in Apple's "Get a Mac" adverts, Webb responded by saying "When someone asks, 'Do you want to do some funny ads for not many days in the year and be paid more than you would be for an entire series of Peep Show?' the answer, obviously, is, 'Yeah, that's fine'". In response to claims that they'd 'sold out', David Mitchell said that since they'd never attacked the capitalist system in any way, the only possible criticism could be their choice of product...and computers aren't notably evil.
- Peter Ustinov once joked that the only reason he did an American Express commercial was to pay his American Express bill.
- George Carlin prefaced a poem making fun of advertising catchphrases by saying "If any of you should have some cognitive dissonance about the fact that I do commercials...and still attack advertising, well...you're just gonna have to figure that shit out on your own."
- The reason why Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in commercials such as for Louis Vuitton and the infamous Pizza Hut ad was for him to fund his research foundation, not to mention that he was virtually broke at the time when he left his position as premier of the now-defunct Soviet Union.
- Kia Asamiya has admitted in interviews that he doesn't really have much interest in manga at all and thinks of himself as a businessman rather than an artist.
- Osamu Tezuka was forced into this many times over his long career. Most notably, almost everything he did involving Astro Boy after the 1950s, as he lost interest in the character after a while but it was so popular he couldn't afford to abandon it completely.
- Nobody can seem to agree on whether or not Rebuild of Evangelion is this for Hideaki Anno or Doing It for the Art, up to and including the man himself.
- The pay-grade for dubbing anime is laughably low. In fact, actor/singer Eric Stuart (of Pokémon and Slayers fame) once stated that one commercial gig pays more than a week of dubbing an anime episode. As a result, actors who take these jobs and aren't Doing It for the Art are doing it for this reason.
- 4Kids Entertainment, the now-defunct company notorious for its hack-and-slash translations and edits of its licenses and its opinions of television viewers in general will never live down its reputation. Yet compared to the other localization companies out there, it paid its actors very well. As a result, it's rare to hear any NYC-based voice actor complain about the company's existence, despite any personal feelings they might have over their editing practices. This fact was laid bare when 4Kids lost the Pokémon rights and The Pokémon Company replaced the original voice actors due to their much-higher-than-normal salaries. Veronica Taylor and Eric Stuart, in particular, went berserk.
- Dragon Ball, at the behest of Kazuhiko Torishima, was relaunched as Dragon Ball Z after the Piccolo Jr. arc, as the launch of a new show would give Toei Animation more promotional money. The original Dragon Ball anime was itself launched with a merchandising plan already in mind.
- In 1996, writer Mark Waid and artist Ron Garney were unceremoniously removed from a critically acclaimed run on Captain America and replaced by Chuck Dixon and Rob Liefeld. One year later, Waid & Garney were reinstated. At that year's Comic-Con, when asked why he would come back after what happened, Waid simply rubbed his fingers together
- Comics great Fabian Nicieza once talked about his role in writing the terrible comic book NFL Superpro: "I was handed the concept and character, including his basic origin. I don't know if that was all the NFL's creative work or a combination of Marvel editorial and the NFL. I didn't ask. I just wanted Jets tickets."
- Christopher Priest (comics) did a mini-series in the '90s called Total Justice, which was a tie-in to a popular Batman toy line at the time. Today, Priest considers the series an Old Shame and is adamant that he only agreed to write it because promotional books offer a better pay rate.
- This is the primary reason why Ken Penders went to court over the characters and concepts he created for Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). While he claims that this was to also bring awareness to the other writers and artists shammed by Archie over reprinting rights, many fans claim that this was more of a money grab for a writer who is clearly trying to regain what he had in the past.
- Gilbert Hernandez has openly admitted that he only did Fatima: The Blood Spinners because Zombie Apocalypse stories were fashionable and he thought that it might sell beyond his usual fanbase (it didn't).
- Alan Moore has tried to avert this as much as humanly possible, but he was trapped by it at least once when he did Neonomicon for Avatar Press.
- Scott Lobdell is very open and unapologetic about being DC's go-to writer for editorially mandated stories that no one else wants to do. He has explained in interviews that he's comfortable with this because the characters ultimately belong to DC and not to him.
- Wilhelm Busch (from 19th century Germany) rather wanted to become a "real" artist, like a poet or a painter but found that people preferred his simpler, funny picture stories.
- Charles M. Schulz freely admitted that he agreed to Peanuts endorsement and merchandising deals so he could have more money for his various philanthropic projects.
- Jim Davis has infamously admitted that this trope was the sole reason behind the creation of Garfield.
- Chester Gould of Dick Tracy. He saw himself as a businessman competing, in addition to other cartoonists, with the other sections of the newspaper, such as the front page. He created many of his stories and characters from situations ripped from the headlines (Flattop, created in the mid-'40s, was named after a WWII aircraft carrier). Although he was in it for the money, he found this sense of competition compelled him to create memorable stories and characters.
- Any film made by Uwe Boll, for the actors involved. He might not be much of a creative talent, but he reportedly pays well:
- Alone in the Dark (2005): Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, Tara Reid.
- In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale: Starring Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, Claire Forlani, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman and Burt Reynolds (see above).
- His Far Cry movie managed to have Til Schweiger, one of Germany's highest-rated actors. Bizarrely, he did tell German gaming magazine GameStar in an interview that he was in it because Uwe Boll is apparently a very pleasant guy to work with as a director.
- BloodRayne, featuring Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Ben Kingsleynote .
- According to some theories, the only reason Boll's films get funded at all is people going for a Springtime for Hitler situation. More on the trope page.
- The spoof adaptation... Casino Royale (1967). Featuring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Woody Allen, Peter O'Toole, Orson Welles, Deborah Kerr, John Huston...and nothing resembling coherence at any point. Part of the incoherence may be because Sellers wasn't in it for the moneynote but proved extremely difficult to work with and was subsequently fired, leaving the producers with half a film which they roped Niven into completing.
- In his autobiography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Bruce Campbell explains this reasoning in response to fan criticism of his appearances in stinkers like Congo. He reiterates that actors need to pay the bills like everyone else, and notes other side-benefits of being tied to a production. In the case of Congo, he was flown to Costa Rica, and his scenes did not involve the rest of the main cast so he was only needed on set one day a week. The rest of the time he toured Costa Rica on the studio's dime, "which I would have done myself anyway!". As his Congo co-star Ernie Hudson once said: "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."
- Alfred Hitchcock was once quoted as saying, "If [an actor] asks me, 'What's my motivation?', I reply, 'Your salary.'"
- An entry in Roger Ebert's "Little Movie Glossary" describes the effect of Marlon Brando's participation in a film as the "Brando Acceptability Yardstick" — as the whole idea of respected actors doing comic book movies for the money can be traced to him. See the Superman franchise, Apocalypse Now, and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996). Incidentally, Brando received, as a salary for the entirety of his work on The Godfather, approximately 1% of his Superman: The Movie salary, which was once calculated by The Guinness Book of Records as eight dollars for every second he was on screen.
- Denis Leary, Ray Liotta and Danny Glover all appeared in Operation: Dumbo Drop for this reason. According to Leary, the three of them had pictures of real estate they wanted to buy to get them through the shoot.
- Ben Affleck once hawked Paycheck on Conan O'Brien. Conan asked him why he did the film, and Ben fittingly told him "the answer lies in the title." Affleck appeared on a British chatshow to publicize the movie, only to be told by the enthusiastic host that it was one of the best science fiction films he had ever seen — the host actually suggested that Paycheck was at least as good as Blade Runner, and asked Affleck if he agreed. You could see how bemused Affleck was as he admitted that he thought Blade Runner was the better movie. Co-star Paul Giamatti referred to the film as "the aptly-named Paycheck" in an appearance on The Daily Show.
- Both Milla Jovovich and director Paul W.S. Anderson have stated bluntly, at certain points, that the only reason that Resident Evil: Retribution (as well as a possible sixth film) is being made is mostly for profit.
- The Superman franchise has been the focus of a number of publicized instances involving the stars:
- The "Curly Joe" era of the The Three Stooges was mostly this. However, it's easy to justify because the Stooges got royally screwed over on the shorts that made them famous.
- Transformers: The Movie: Featuring the voice talents of Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy, and Eric Idle, among others, in what can best be described as an 80-minute toy commercial. They were all in it for the money.
- Welles told his biographer about the film, "I play a big toy who does horrible things to a bunch of smaller toys."
- Idle admitted in his book The Greedy Bastard Diary that he had hated every minute of production. "Why did I do it, again? Oh, right, they offered me oodles of cash." He's also said that he never even watched the movie, and makes a habit out of it with such roles.
- It is rumored that Leonard Nimoy was so embarrassed about it that he refused to address it for years afterward, whether in interviews or at science-fiction conventions. Only Michael Bay's interest in casting him as The Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen prompted him to talk about his role, and then only briefly (and he also said that Bay could call him up if he wanted to, but Bay ultimately went with Tony Todd). Bay finally called up Nimoy to cast him as Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
- That said, this negativity wasn't true of all the celebrities in the movie; Robert Stack and Judd Nelson were in it to get paid and embraced their roles; Robert Stack (according to some production staff) liked the movie and Judd Nelson reprised his role for Transformers Animated 20 years later.
- On the Transformers film, Hugo Weaving has casually admitted to phoning in his performance as Megatron. He seems guilty about it.
I just went in and did it. I never read the script. I just have my lines, and I don't know what they mean. That sounds absolutely pathetic! I've never done anything like that, in my life.
- Michael Bay got passive-aggressive about this trope.
- Both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have said that they only did the Twilight movie for the money, and both of them have inserted Take Thats against the book and its fans in interviews. Also, Pattinson said that he wanted to do Twilight in order to have the opportunity to work with Stewart, who, prior to Twilight, was known as a serious actress who did mostly independent films (and Zathura). Also, it's Kristen Stewart. He was reportedly hitting on her throughout filming. Jamie Campbell Bower, who is playing Caius, also seems to have only signed on for the money as all he knew about Twilight prior to then was that the first movie had done well. And Pattinson has gone on record as saying he thinks Stephenie Meyer is literally insane. Both lead actors have also been publicly caught in scandals, in what many anti-fans jokingly claim are attempts to get released from their contract... a hypothesis that was then backed up by Stewart in an interview.
- It is pretty telling to note that Pattinson and Stewart collectively drove a particularly hard bargain going into New Moon and negotiated a six-fold salary increase for themselves (in other words, these two people alone cost the filmmakers 40% of their budget).
- David Slade, who publicly blasted the Twilight franchise prior to signing on to do Eclipse, had to apologize for his comments later on. Given the budget for Hard Candy, he can be forgiven for invoking this trope.
- This has to explain Warrior of the Lost World, which in addition to featuring Donald Pleasence, also provided an income for Robert Ginty, Persis Khambatta (pretty much only known for her role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and Fred Williamson.
- Scott Mendelson from Forbes has noted that it has become common knowledge that any serious actor looking for real money acting in Hollywood outside of joining a TV series is to establish a character in a superhero or fantasy film franchise as soon as you can.
- The Blues Brothers: Want to know how the movie was filled to the brim with blues and soul royalty? The artists needed the money. We may think of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and James Brown as legends today, but they and their peers saw their careers decline in the 1970s as disco became the dominant urban music genre. Many of them had a resurgence in popularity in the '80s due in no small part to the film's success.
- Zigzagged for Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman of RedLetterMedia, who state in their DVD Commentary for The Recovered that making the film was like recording a wedding video because it was not a passion project. They just wanted to make a low-budget horror film that they could easily shoot and sell for a profit. However, they ultimately couldn't help inserting things that interested them rather than what mainstream audiences would want to buy. As a result, their "just for the money" film turned out extremely unmarketable.
- Louisa May Alcott, who enjoyed writing thrillers and protofeminist tales, nearly turned down the publisher who suggested she write a book for young girls. One staggering success later, she decided that writing children's fiction was the most practical way to go.
- L. Frank Baum, creator of the Wizard of Oz series repeatedly tried to end the franchise, which bored him, only to repeatedly come crawling back once his other non-Oz books failed to sell.
- Peter Benchley was a freelance writer struggling to support his wife and children when during a meeting with a publisher, an old idea about a killer shark attracted interest. Jaws was mostly written as the payments poured in, with Benchley only continuing after the first 100 pages once his agent reminded him that if he did not deliver the pages, he would have to return the already cashed and spent money. Thankfully, it was a best-seller and inspired a seminal film adaptation.
- Bruce Bethke, the author who actually invented the word "Cyberpunk," now describes his involvement writing the Wild Wild West novelization in terms of Old Shame, but earlier in the life of his website, he simply posted this:
This is my house. Note the new roof. (photo of house)This is how I paid for the roof. (cover of Wild Wild West novel)Any more questions?
- In-universe, Lawrence Block's hitman character Keller once retired and, feeling a bit bored, decided to take up a hobby and settled on stamp collecting. After a while, he gets back in touch with his former manager, who assumes he misses the work, but he eventually admits that stamp collecting is a pretty expensive hobby and he could use the money.
- Anthony Burgess basically belched out A Clockwork Orange in a matter of weeks to pay off some debts. He regretted its glorification of violence and was annoyed by the way it overshadowed the rest of his work, causing quite a bit of Creator Backlash.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs only started writing in his thirties during a period of low employment. He had been reading pulp magazines and thought that he could write at least as well as this garbage and get paid for it, despite never having written anything before. After his stories became successful he made all the money he could, in particular marketing Tarzan, his most successful character, in every way possible. This was against advice that doing so would overexpose the character. Burroughs was right though, the public couldn't get enough of Tarzan.
- Orson Scott Card, a prolific author of fiction in genres ranging from science fiction to pious fiction, once answered the question, "Why do you write? What is your inspiration?" with the answer, "I write because nobody will pay me to do anything else. My inspiration is that from time to time we run out of money."
- Agatha Christie openly acknowledged that she wrote The Mystery of the Blue Train and The Big Four because she needed money at the time that her first marriage was messily collapsing. It shows.
- Arthur Conan Doyle had initially refused to revive Sherlock Holmes (the man did, after all, kill Holmes off purely out of spite for the character). The huge sums of money editors were offering him for new Holmes stories, and his dwindling bank account, no doubt played a part in his decision to finally take the plunge. There is an anecdote sometimes cited that says that, tired of being asked to revive Holmes, he finally asked for a ridiculously huge sum of money that he knew the publishers wouldn't be able to pay, and was appropriately shocked when they immediately said yes. Doyle was paid around 600 Pounds per Holmes story, worth about 80,000 Pounds (or $125,000) today
- After his wife gave birth to their fifth child, Charles Dickens needed some cash to cover the doctor's bills. Six weeks later he had written and sold A Christmas Carol. Something of an aversion in that, even though it was almost immediately a critical hit and is regarded as a classic today, it ultimately didn't make Dickens as much money as he hoped it would — he had to pay for the publication of it himself because his usual publishers refused, but what set him back was his insistence of hand-colored illustrations and page decorations, which ate into his share of the profits.
- Great Expectations was only written because Dickens's magazine 'All The Year Round' was doing poorly and the only thing that would revive it was a serialized Dickens novel.
- Dickens, like many other authors at the time, was also paid per installment leading to some of his longer works like Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend.
- As noted before, this trope doesn't necessarily result in bad fiction — think of the doorstopping evergreens by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexandre Dumas. Both were paid per line. In the case of Dostoyevsky, his urgent need to repay his gambling debts caused him to write Crime and Punishment at a crazy speed. This is thought to be one of the reasons for the novel's unique flow of thoughts making it both an inspiration to psychoanalysis and Joyce's stream of consciousness.
- It has been claimed by several close associates and friends that one of the biggest reasons Ian Fleming created James Bond was that he needed a way to look after his brand new wife and baby whilst maintaining his luxurious and exotic jet-set party lifestyle, his holiday home in Jamaica (that was a money-sink for ten months of the year) and his many (eventually fatal) vices such as his seventy a day smoking habit and borderline alcoholic drink intake. It didn't help that Ann Fleming was just as keen to live the rich and glamorous life as her husband.
- Frederick Forsyth started a struggling journalist who had covered various conflicts in France and Africa as a journalist but couldn't find a full-time job. He decided to fictionally recount his experiences and several best-selling novels (The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, and The Dogs of War among them) resulted.
- William Gibson, explaining that the version of Count Zero serialised in Asimov's was Bowdlerised, said that he decided to allow these changes "when it was pointed out to me how urgently young people in small towns in the US need fiction of this sort, and how much my new car is going to cost."
- Robert Graves claimed he wrote I, Claudius and Claudius the God for this reason.
- This was his stated motive for writing all of his novels; he considered himself primarily a poet but was plagued with money problems throughout his life.
- Robert A. Heinlein's writing career started as a way to pay off debts incurred in an unsuccessful run for office, in 1937. The male protagonist of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls took this trope as his own.
Richard Ames: The most beautiful prose in the English language is "Pay to the order of..."
- In the midst of writing some of his most highly-regarded Conan the Barbarian stories, author Robert E. Howard also churned out "Man-Eaters of Zamboula," a completely paint-by-numbers story with a Damsel in Distress whos naked throughout the whole thing. It was pretty obviously written because Howard knew he could immediately sell it to Weird Tales and get the higher cover-story rate.
- Samuel Johnson wrote Rasselas in only seven days to pay for his mother's funeral. He wrote in his defense than only a blockhead wouldn't write for money.
- In-universe example in Stephen King's Misery. Paul Sheldon is the writer of a series of romantic historical fiction books following the exploits of the titular heroine, Misery Chastain. Paul hates Misery as a character due to her being a Canon Sue and has been stuck writing her stories for years but put up with it because he needs the income to put braces on his daughter's teeth and cover her college fund. Throughout the novel, he comes to realize that his motivations for writing his True Art book (Awards Dear Boy) isn't all that better.
- From a 1956 Paris Review interview with Dorothy Parker:
Parker: All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn't sit in the same room with me.
Paris Review: What, then, would you say is the source of most of your work?
Parker: Need of money, dear.
- Robert B. Parker's primary motivation for writing was so he could provide his family with a comfortable life without needing to work a 9-to-5 job. His characters live on in books by other authors so his family can continue receiving royalties.
- An in-universe example occurs in the novel Shrink Rap when Tom Cruise stand-in named Hal Race threatens to leave after the lead character refuses to take her dog out of the room, and the author of a book that he's interested in playing a role in a film adaptation tells him he can take a hike if he doesn't cut the attitude. Sure enough, he stays. When asked later why the author was willing to risk him walking, she replies with this trope.
- Terry Pratchett, in an interview with Stephen Briggs in the third edition of The Discworld Companion, on not having won many literary awards and the hint that the Booker prize may be opened up to more popular works: "A 'popular' book means the author has already got what a true writer craves: a lot of readers and a big cheque". He once said of being beaten out for a Hugo award "On the other hand, going home and falling backward into a big pile of money always helps." Of course, Sir Terry's (Kt, OBE, Ph.D. (x8, all honorary)) lack of literary awards was likely due to the Sci Fi Ghetto more than any lack of talent on his part.
- When asked if he was jealous of the money that Douglas Adams made, he replied: "Not at all, especially since it's been tactfully pointed out that I had to change banks after filling the last one up."
- In fact, in one of his books, he claims that the dream of every publisher is "to have so much gold in one's pockets that you have to hire two people to hold your pants up."
- The "penny dreadful" pulp authors of the 1930s, when magazines paid $0.01 a word.
- Mario Puzo was a struggling novelist who published two autobiographical novels, The Dark Arena and The Fortunate Pilgrim, that sold poorly. Deeply in debt and unable to break out of poorly-paid freelance jobs, Puzo turned to a publisher friend for help. The publisher suggested he write about organized crime, a subject Puzo was neither especially interested in nor knowledgable about. Three years of research and writing later, The Godfather resulted.
- The ultimate example may be William Shakespeare. The plays were probably written for the quick profit and the poetry to increase the author's social standing in the Elizabethan court. Not surprisingly, Hamlet seems to be the major exception.
- Edward Stratemeyer, he of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, could be seen in modern times as being a little chauvinistic (of course, remember, this was the 1920s, feminism was only just beginning to come into focus.) So why did he end up creating and outlining Nancy Drew, who has been seen as a feminist role model by many? Because when he saw how many girls were reading The Hardy Boys books, a little voice in his head said, "If you write them, they will buy." This was also true of most of the many ghostwriters, who got paid fairly well for the books (roughly one month's work could net six weeks pay.) Although there were at least two aversions to this, though. Two of the most prominent ghostwriters, Mildred Wirt Benson for Nancy and Leslie McFarlane for the Hardys, actually did put quite a bit of effort into their characters (at least initially, McFarlane grew tired of the stories later.)
- Arguably the entire point of the Spackman Initiative in The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.
- Harlan Ellison put out two collections of his earliest pulp work under the title Honorable Whoredom.
- While it wasn't his motivation for starting the novel, Mark Twain had left Adventures of Huckleberry Finn unfinished because he was unsatisfied with the work and didn't wish to write anymore. He only finished the novel when it reached the point where he desperately needed the money, and there are points where it shows. Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective are even straighter examples because they owe their very existence to the very same situation.
- Tony Schwartz ghostwrote The Art of the Deal at a time when he was facing a high mortgage as his family was growing.
- Holly Marie Combs was rumored to want to leave the show after Shannen Doherty's departure in Season 4. But she was forced to stay by contract and had bills to pay.
- Rose McGowan took the role of Paige because she only expected to be "in and out" (her initial contract was for two seasons). She did not expect to stay on for five years. She had no problem pointing out that she just liked having a steady paycheck. Nonetheless, she did appear to have some affection for the show, if her interviews years later are anything to go by.
- Tom Baker openly admits that the thing that attracted him to the role of the Doctor in Doctor Who was less "Money, Dear Boy" and more like "Job, Dear Boy". Between being out-of-work and giving away most of his things in a bout of delusional suicidal ideation he was technically homeless and underemployed as a tea-maid on a building site. He had been begging the BBC for roles and said he would have taken anything.
- In-universe, in Episodes where Matt LeBlanc is forced to take a job as a game show host because he owes a lot of tax money, and needs to pay it off fast.
- Mocked on Inside Amy Schumer, when Amy is cast in a voice-acting role alongside Jessica Alba and Megan Fox in a movie about superpowered meerkats... only to find out that the other two are voicing slinky, sexy meerkats, while she's voicing "Dumpy, the Frumpy Meerkat", who won't even fit into pants due to being Japanese-made.
Agent: Amy, meet... your action figure!
(Action figure of Dumpy toddles along while dropping poop pellets)
Amy: It's shitting!
Agent: Yeah, the thing retails for $42.99, and you get 60% of the back-end.
Amy: (Turning to face the mic) Wooooorrrrrrrms!
- The producers of Lost managed to get almost every main character back for at least one episode in the sixth and last season. The exception was Mr. Eko, as actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked for too much money.
- The two lead actors on My Family, Robert Lindsay and Zoë Wanamaker, freely acknowledged that the show's writing was rather poor, with Lindsay saying "There's some real dross (in the scripts) and we're aware of it". This trope is probably why they stuck with it.
- A Running Gag (but probably more true then people would admit) on Nevermind The Buzzcocks, is that most of the contestants and guest presenters are only there for the paycheck. As Catherine Tate put it:
"When they asked me to do the show. I thought; well I don't know anything about music. But on the other hand, that kitchen extension is not going to pay for itself."
- Then-well-known stage actors James Daly and Louise Sorel, who guest-starred together in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Requiem for Methuselah" as Flint and Reyna, respectively. Both thought the series was childish and cartoony and later both admitted the only reason they did the episode was the paycheck.
Louise Sorel: (about the episode) "They put me in this funny costume I stood still and they just wrapped fabric around me and I had an Annette Funicello bouffant and Dusty Springfield eye make-up. James Daly and I thought of ourselves as these two very serious theater actors. He kept looking at me and asking, "Why on Earth are we doing this?" I kept telling him, 'Christmas money.'"
- On a somewhat more local level, Totally Hidden Video once did an episode in which several different kinds of professional musicians were hired to play for a wedding with it only being revealed to them once they arrived that the newlyweds were... a pair of dogs. Since they were, after all, being paid their going rate to perform for the happy couple, the most reaction the camera was able to get out of any of them was a rather long and curious stare before they set up their instruments and went to work. To keep the audience amused, therefore, the show also milked some comedy out of the dogs' reaction to the musicians. (They didn't like the mariachis very much, but they did cradle their heads together for a romantic love ballad from one of the other bands.)
- It seems that a sitcom is doomed as soon as its star/s become/s the "highest paid on television." (Notably, Seinfeld, Frasier, Friends).
- The Great British Bake Off:
- Mel has confessed that she joined Bake Off in the first place largely because she and her husband were so broke that they had to sell their home.
- After seven series, the show will be moving from the BBC to Channel Four thanks solely to the commercial channel's ability to offer more money. ITV also made a fairly high offer, but that was contingent on the production company being able to bring along the presenters and judges... which didn't go over all that well.
- In fact, this trope was very explicitly averted by Mel and Sue immediately after the Channel Hop was made public, in a characteristically punny joint statement to the effect that they weren't going to "follow the dough".note
- As for the judges, Mary came to the same decision as Mel and Sue, putting out a statement that she was staying with the BBC out of loyalty and thanks for the broadcaster giving her a career boost. Paul, on the other hand, decided to stay with Bake Off and move to Channel Four.
- On a similar note: BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid laughed off rumors in 2013 that she was looking to leave the Beeb. she did so for a hefty paycheck: £1 million a year. She presents Good Morning Britain four days a week alongside the divisive Piers Morgan.
- This trope is the reason why so many Transgender women in the '90's and 2000's appeared on daytime talk shows in demeaning and exploitative "My Girlfriend Has a Secret" and "Man or Woman?" episodes. They were offered thousands of dollars that could go towards transitioning.
- The Good Place:
- Manny Jacinto, who plays Jason, admits he took the role because he was broke at the time.
- D'Arcy Carden was a more downplayed version of this trope, admitting that as a struggling actor, she was willing to take almost anything at the time she was offered the part, but her dream was to be on a Mike Schur show anyway. Overlaps with Awesome, Dear Boy.
- The West Wing: Richard Schiff hated the storyline for Toby Ziegler in the last season, feeling it was a betrayal of the character. He only stayed on the show because the producers agreed to pay him a full season's salary even though he only appeared in roughly half of the episodes.
- Even The Beatles weren't immune to this, according to Paul McCartney:
"Somebody said to me, 'But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.' That's a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, 'Now, let's write a swimming pool.'"
- Supposedly, lead singer Tarja Turunen's focus on money was the reason she was kicked out of the band Nightwish.
- Mick Jagger's appearance on will.i.am's "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever", which paired them both together with Jennifer Lopez.
- The Boomtown Rats never bothered to pretend that they weren't at least partly in it for the large sacks of cash they were getting out of their success, unlike pretty much every other punk band of the era, particularly The Clash. Interestingly enough, whilst Bob Geldof went on to devote his fame and connections to one of the greatest humanitarian endeavors of the 1980s, Johnny Rotten of the Pistols, after a decade of Doing It for the Art with his acclaimed experimental band Public Image Ltd., was last heard of appearing in a decidedly not-punk butter commercial.
- On a related note, while the artists appearing at Live Aid were unpaid, many of them were fully aware of the exposure they would get from their performances. While not entirely a case of this trope, some of the less keen artists were persuaded by their managers (and Bob himself in many cases) to take part because of the resulting publicity that would translate into increased sales.
- Anthrax rhythm guitarist Scott Ian responded to charges that the band was "selling out" with new singer John Bush and the more mainstream-sounding Sound of White Noise album by noting in an interview that "The bottom line is, everyone in this business is in it to make money. Myself included."
- Another example from Jay-Z's "Moment of Clarity": I dumbed down for my audience, doubled my dollars/ They criticize me for it, but they all yell "Holla!"
- In an interview on VH1 some years back, Kid Rock responded to comments made by another rock star in the vein of Doing It for the Art. "I'm in the for the music? You're a lying sack of shit. You're a musician, I'm a musician, of course you're in it for the music; that's a given. Why are you REALLY doing it?" Imitating the other artist: ''Money and girls."
- Legendary band KISS is blatantly and unapologetically in it for the money. Founder and bandleader Gene Simmons makes no bones about it. If there's a buck to be made, KISS will do it. They'll license anything if the money is right; action figures, lunch boxes, coffins, condoms, and so on. Their unique work and over-the-top live shows were designed to draw people in and make more money. To their credit, their shows are still excellent, even at their age.
Gene Simmons: God gives you a wallet, and you can have less money or more, what would you pick?
- Back in the '70s, Gene Simmons was asked if his mother approved Simmons' demonic stage makeup and costume. His response was, "Well, I don't know about that, but I know she approves of the house I bought her, so I guess it evens out."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic has often said "I wrote 'Eat It' because I wanted to buy a house. It worked."
- Johnny Rotten said quite bluntly that The Sex Pistols reunion tour in the mid-'90s was for "your money." The tour was even called "Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's the Filthy Lucre."
- More recently, Johnny advertising butter products.
- tool's song "Hooker with a Penis" is in response to former fans who accused them of selling out for the money. The song essentially states that every professional musician you've ever heard has sold out for the money, otherwise you'd have never heard their music in the first place. The most telling sequence is "All you know about me is what I've sold you / Dumb fuck / I sold out long before you ever heard my name / I sold my soul to make a record / Dip shit / And you bought one."
- The Bowling for Soup song "A Really Cool Dance Song" lampshades this trope. The song is about a band that needs money, so they write a dance song, as dance songs are popular and sell albums.
Now we're getting older, and much more sober,
And we've got some big house payments to make.
The wife wants a handbag, the kids need some college,
And we just need one hit single to break.
Get ready here it comes!
- Finding out your entire retirement fund has been looted by a third party is never fun, but at least Leonard Cohen could fill it up with a few new concerts (which turned into three studio albums and one touring album).
- Really his whole career could be attributed to this. Cohen saw himself as a poet first, with a poor singing voice to boot. Songwriting and performing paid better.
- Dua Lipa is an artist whose tour schedule falls into this trope; incidentally, her single "Break My Heart" is both One for the Money; One for the Art simultaneously. Incidentally, it was very much a moment of this for Ariana Martin, the stunt double for her in her single "Physical"'s video.
- Gordon Lightfoot was enraged when his label wanted to rename his poorly-selling album "Sit Down Young Stranger" to "If You Could Read My Mind" after the single of the same name started charting, going so far as to fly to LA to confront the label execs directly. He was told that renaming the album was "the difference between x and 7x". Needless to say, he got his 7x.
- Interviewer: "What does 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' mean to you now?" Kris Kristofferson: "Oh, about a hundred thousand dollars a year."
- Averted by Swedish pop supergroup ABBA, who turned down $1 Billion for a reunion.
- Most reunions seem to be examples of this trope, but the Dead Kennedys' has been a particularly egregious example due to the band's former anti-corporate stance. The band (minus Jello Biafra) now licenses songs for television commercials.
- The Monkees were on a British interview program just before their 2011 reunion tour kicked off. When asked why they were getting back together again, Peter Tork looked directly into the camera and (jokingly and literally) rubbed his fingers together..
- A major reason Michael Nesmith usually declines Monkees reunions is because of inheriting his late mother Bette's fortune for inventing liquid paper, making him independently wealthy. He is also hesitant to step away from his Pacific Arts corporation for too long, for fear that the small company may unravel (a fear only compounded by problems with PBS, who bought the company in The '70s, and in which Michael sued successfully in The Nineties).
- Peter Tork very much falls into this trope. He had the richest musical background of the original group, but like all of them was sidelined by session musicians and got fewer lead vocals than the other three. That's why he was the first to quit. Debt convinced him to go along with the 1986 reunion, although he seems to have started enjoying himself after that.
- Sting is often bewildered at "Every Breath You Take" interpretation as a romantic song, often played at people's weddings. But the £500,000 a year, he earns from it in royalties as the most played song on UK and US radio probably helps.
- This is also likely the reason why Sting, a devoted environmentalist, agreed to shill for Jaguar and Compaq Computers during the promotion of his "Brand New Day" album. The Jaguar deal alone brought in more than 3 million extra sales of the album and covered the costs of promoting the album (as the song "Desert Rose" was played in the commercial). Likewise, Sting and his production team got more than $7 million from Compaq, who sponsored the "Brand New Day Tour". Sting made out like a total bandit at the end of this.
- In his autobiography Life, Keith Richards says that he formed the side project X-Pensive Winos in the '80s for several reasons: the Stones were on an indefinite hiatus, Keith wanted to get back on the road, and he still had a lot of bills to pay. Later on, he specifically notes he enjoys the royalties that one of the Winos' songs gets from its inclusion in an episode of The Sopranos. He also talks at length about the fact that the Stones barely broke even in their early years due to a heavily-unfair record company contract, and that the renegotiation of their contract in the early '80s allowed them to get much more royalties than normal, which is why they officially license all their own products (for big paychecks).
- The song "American Pie" from American Pie is often debated by music critics for its metaphorical lyrics and veiled references. What exactly does it mean? Don McLean has been asked several times, and his answer is always the same. 'It means I never have to work again.'
- An early magazine interview with The Who utilized a format where each band member filled in a form answering a standard set of questions. John Entwistle's stated "Personal Ambition" was "To be rich." His "Professional Ambition"? "To be rich."
- A sad twist to this is that Pete Townshend partially took The Who on the road in the late 1990s to help Entwistle recover from financial problems he had at the time (and partly to distract John from his cocaine habit). Unfortunately, Entwistle died of a heart attack aggravated by cocaine usage.
- Little Mix have fallen into this trope; well, at least one of them.
- Pink Floyd zigzags this with The Wall. The band faced financial mismanagement and heavy taxation in England by 1978 and had to enter tax exile in France while the group's lawyers settled the management situation and recovered the band's uninvested money. The album was make-or-break and had to be a smash success to keep the band afloat; the group conceded to co-producer Bob Ezrin's suggestion to give "Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" a disco beat and release it as a single (they were normally very anti-single since the late 1960s). Though the album was certainly a case Doing It for the Art for Roger Waters, it would explain much of the pressures between the group that gradually tore them apart.
- In 1972, Thin Lizzy were asked to record a Deep Purple cover album, to capitalize on the popularity of that group — they were reluctant because they wanted to focus on building an identity through their own original material, but they needed the money. Phil Lynott felt he couldn't imitate Ian Gillan's vocal style, and they needed a keyboard player because the electric organ was a key part of Deep Purple's sound, so Benny White and Dave Lennox, members of fellow Dublin group Elmer Fudd, were asked to step in for those roles. Ultimately, the album was recorded in one day, consisted of five Deep Purple songs and four Album Filler instrumentals, and was released under the name Funky Junction.
- Jerry Goldsmith used to joke that scoring the Rambo movies paid for his house. But he wasn't joking when he told an interviewer in 1981 that money was why he did so much TV work in the '70s — he didn't get many big-screen assignments in the first half of that decade.
- Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released an album called We're Only in It for the Money. This was actually his judgment on what The Beatles were about.note Paul McCartney himself has indicated Zappa wasn't really wrong.
- Glam Rock band Wizzard's large line-up, piano destroying on-stage antics, and high recording costs made them an expensive band to maintain. As a result, they did a lot of tours to pay the bills.
- Trent Reznor stated that Nine Inch Nails agreed to perform at Woodstock '94 solely for the money in order to compensate for the cost of the 'Self-Destruct' Tour going on at the same time.
- Someone once asked RodStewart if he had heard what Tom Waits thought about his cover of Downtown Train. Rod replied that Tom had let him know that he'd bought his family a new swimming pool, and Rod had paid for it!
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson walked away from his highly successful professional wrestling career at age 32 after having a small measure of success in The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King. His film career worked out, as he eventually climbed to Hollywood's highest-paid actor in 2017 after a string of blockbuster hits. He has stated in interviews that he liked wrestling more, but making films paid better, didn't require him to travel as much and didn't take as much of a toll on his body.
- Wrestler Kevin Nash has stated in the past year in interviews on TNA iMPACT! that he was only in TNA for the money. After he went back to WWE, Nash admitted that he signed with WCW for similar reasons: a guaranteed contract and a sweet clause in his contract that allowed him to be paid the same amount of money as the highest-paid guy in the promotion. To sum up his mindset, he once said in an interview "It's funny, they all call it 'the business', but the second you start treating it like a business you're the bad guy."
- According to Miss Madness/Mona, a good deal of WCW Monday Nitro Girls were perfectly fine entertaining the live audience during the commercial breaks and had no desire to get in the ring but agreed to go to the Power Plant because they liked having an income. For this reason, she decided to go easy on them in training.
- Molly Holly was WWE's resident Diva Butt-Monkey (largely due to her unwillingness to be Ms. Fanservice like the other women they had) but she ended up staying in WWE because it was good money. After a breast cancer scare in 2005, she realized how unhappy she really was there and when WWE refused to let her do the one thing that would have made it bearable for her (a HeelFace Turn, as she never liked being a heel and had wanted to be a good role model) she asked for her release and retired from wrestling.
- Playboy playmate April Hunter stated nudity was the most reliable way to make money as a fitness model. Similar to the Nitro Girls, as an nWo Girl she agreed to go to the Power Plant when asked by Kevin Nash but admits to not wanting to, correctly assuming pro wrestling would be painful. The Power Plant ended up not training her anyway so she went to Killer Kowalski's school and stuck around even though it did hurt and she hated it because WCW went under while she was there and she figured a former model with big boobs wouldn't get any respect in the business without formal training. Ironically she found many promoters in the USA didn't care and were just happy to have an nWo girl. She did eventually develop some fondness for pro wrestling, but unfortunately, the nude modeling caused WWE to pass on her, and then an injury hamstrung her career.
- Gail Kim hasn't been shy about mentioning how much she prefers TNA to WWE. TNA made her a star; she all but created their Knockouts division, was their first Knockouts champion, and actually headlined a main event of Impact. However, after a pretty nasty contract dispute, she decided to go back to WWE where she was basically turned into scenery. When she realized they would give her three times the money for about a third of the work, she thought she could deal with it. In the end, she couldn't. She quit WWE in 2011 with less than two months to go on her contract and went back to TNA. This was also after she married a celebrity chef, so money was no longer an issue.
- Sting had no interest in wrestling as a youth and didn't even know what it was because, according to him during his appearance on ''The Ross Report'', he lived in an area where wrestling wasn't shown on TV. He heard the name Hulk Hogan but didn't know who he was until he started working out in his gym. When Borden was approached to become a wrestler, he admits that only did it for the money and fame. Needless to say, he eventually developed a genuine love for wrestling. With that in mind, Sting's talents don't come cheaply (he was reportedly the highest-paid wrestler in WCW for many years, to the point where Scott Hall referred to his initial offering as "Sting money") and the reason he left TNA in 2014 and finally joined WWE at least ten years too late was that TNA was in a financial mess and could no longer afford to pay him, along with many other of its top talent.
- AJ Styles, who many regard as Sting's Spiritual Successor (aided by the fact that Sting more-or-less passed the torch to him at Bound for Glory 2009), has a similar story. He initially got into the business because of the money, and when he learned that you don't make money in wrestling, at least not at first, it was already too late — he had already fallen in love with it. All this being said, this trope has come into play in his career: the first time was during the aftermath of the RF video scandal for Ring of Honor, in which AJ chose to stick with TNA because they paid better. This being said, he loved both companies equally, and perhaps stuck around in TNA far longer than he should have due to that. However, during TNA's Dork Age, the constant creative hamstringing the company put him (and many of his close friends/coworkers) through finally got to him. So when TNA's dire financial straits caught up to them and they offered him a contract with a forty percent pay cut, AJ finally said enough and left. Two years later, after AJ made a lot of money with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the indie circuit, TNA broke the bank trying to offer him a deal that everyone knew they couldn't back. Unfortunately for them, AJ chose WWE's offer over theirs.
- The same can be said for Sting's former tag team partner the Ultimate Warrior, who has also admitted that he never watched wrestling and only got involved for the money. He infamously had many monetary disputes with Vince McMahon that resulted in him leaving on bad terms multiple times.
- A lot of top talent who were pushed relatively early in their career have displayed this attitude. Brock Lesnar is an especially notable case — he was hotshotted to the main event within his first year in the WWE and is a massive draw, but he has never made it a secret that the only reason he ever got involved with the business was for the cash. In fact, his post-UFC return to the WWE was motivated solely by Vince McMahon's offer to let him work part-time for full-time pay. His future wife Sable later admitted that she never cared about wrestling and only used the business to get money and become famous. Ditto for Goldberg — who in fact wrestled his last match in the WWE with Lesnar, when both were leaving (Lesnar for football, Goldberg because most of his WWE run sucked).
- It's a common practice for WWE talent scouts to invoke this trope when hiring people from non-wrestling backgrounds. They get offered significantly higher salaries than those who come in from the indies — presumably, so the extra money will make them willing to give wrestling a go.
- Tommy 'Tiny' Lister has admitted that he had no intentions of becoming a wrestler and only started wrestling as Zeus because Vince McMahon offered him a lot of money for it. While he is certainly not ashamed for it, his wrestling career is a bit of an Old Shame for many wrestling fans.
- This, sadly, leads to many wrestlers staying on well past their prime and performing well into their twilight years, sometimes in small indy shows. Too many wrestlers didn't manage their money responsibly or were wiped out by one or many divorces. Chances are, if you see an ad for an Indy show and it's being headlined by a wrestler who used to be a big name 20+ years ago, this is why.
- This is pretty much why Hulk Hogan signed on to TNA. He'd been wiped out by his divorce and needed the cash. This despite a reputation for demanding and getting exorbitant paydays during his career.
- The same goes for Ric Flair's stint in TNA. Poor money management and a string of divorces left Naitch near broke, despite a 40-year in-ring career.
- This is also the reason the late Joanie "Chyna" Laurer became a pornographic performer.
- Tammy Lynn Sytch also turned to pornography later in her career, first through pay websites and later signing a full-on deal with Vivid.
- Tylene Buck (aka Major Gunns) also turned to pornography after her career as a manager went nowhere after WCW released all their female talent.
- The Sheik kept wrestling when he was well past his prime, since he had lost money on some investments.
- After losing the WWWF World Title to Ivan Koloff in 1971, Bruno Sammartino had fully intended on retiring from the wrestling business due to numerous injuries. He spent two years out of the spotlight, working occasionally for promoters he liked. Vince McMahon Sr. offered him an unprecedented contract to come back that arguably made him the highest-paid man in the industry at that point, as well as a part-time road schedule.
- Unlike many fighters in MMA, UFC light heavyweight Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson always makes it clear that he's purely in it for the money, much to the confusion/amusement of most interviewers.
- British boxer Nigel Benn, AKA "The Dark Destroyer", would talk openly about how he was only really in it for the money, and about how there was rarely anything personal against his opponent, how he was seriously worried about the possibility of brain damage, and how he was going to quit boxing as soon as he felt able. The UK boxing press thought this was all a jolly bad show, and gave Benn a rather negative reputation at the time.
- Footballer Winston Bogarde became notorious in England for staying at Chelsea despite going over three years without playing for them. Why didn't he move elsewhere? Because Chelsea were paying him £40,000 a week, which was a huge amount back then, especially for a defender. Bogarde knew no-one else would pay him those sorts of wages, and wanted to spite Chelsea for not paying him, so he stuck around for the remainder of his contract.
- There's a lot of European football/soccer teams which often try and invoke this trope to get reputable players, the idea being those good players will give the club instant success. This also explains why such non-traditional soccer markets such as Russia, Ukraine, and all of the rich countries of the Arabian Peninsula (even tiny Bahrain and Qatar!) can attract big names—who cares about isolation or scorching hot weather when oil money goes straight into your pocket? China, the fastest-growing economy, is also getting a lot of good if aging stars.
- Dysfunctional ownership aside, this is one of the reasons why the NHL allowed the Atlanta Thrashers to relocate to Winnipeg; the league would not have collected a $60 million relocation fee if they found a new owner committed to keeping the team in Atlanta.
- After the team then known as the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes) filed for bankruptcy in 2009, the city of Glendale, Arizona, which owns and operates Gila River Arena (then known as Jobing.com Arena), paid the NHL $75 million over three seasons (from the 2010-11 season to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season) for the Coyotes to remain in Arizona while the league searched for a new owner, preferably one committed to keeping the team in Arizona. note Eventually, it worked, as a new buyer was found in 2013.
- Completing an NHL trifecta, in 2016, an expansion team was granted to Las Vegas (area untapped by major leagues! huge fee shared with the 30 other teams!) but held up to Quebec (traditional hockey market, but the crowded area and Canadian dollar uncertainties that already drove the previous team away in 1995 made it somehow riskier; also, a Quebec expansion team would likely require an existing team in the Eastern Conference to move west, which is why Seattle was favored for the 32nd slot, which requires simply moving one team in the Pacific Division to the Central).
- In Tennis, the top players typically skip the smaller, non-mandatory tournaments to save time and energy because they don't need the extra ranking points. Because of this, if you do see a top 5 player at some obscure ATP 250 or WTA International event, chances are that a sizeable appearance fee was included somewhere. One specific player example of this would be former top-5 stalwart Nikolay Davydenko, who was quite upfront in admitting that he played in a lot more tournaments than he needed to solely for the additional money.
- This was why Formula One driver Niki Lauda came out of retirement and joined McLaren: he had started an airline and needed money for it. It did get him his third title (in the narrowest margin of victory ever, no less), so there's that.
- Among other things, Ott Tänak reportedly switched sides with Hyundai in the World Rally Championship as Tänak wanted a business partnership with Markko Märtin through an R5 rally team, but Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen refused for whatever reason.
- In the 2014 World Cup, three African teams showed they considered their pay as important as victories: Cameroon delayed their trip because they wanted to get paid before, and while in Brazil one of the players admitted he's Only in It for the Money; Ghana threatened to strike during the tournament, only shutting up once a jet filled with cash arrived; and Nigeria also complained with their managers about the prize money.
- Any time you see a small, lesser-known team playing a powerhouse in college football. Bigger programs pay smaller teams to be a punching bag for 60 minutes and sell tickets while the smaller team often gets more money for a single weekend than their program would for the entire season. Sometimes it backfires, though. Ask any University of Michigan fan about the Appalachian State game.note Or any University of North Texas fan about the Portland State game.note
- The Qatari national handball team for the 2015 World Cup. The team consists of three Montenegrin, two Bosnian, one Spanish, one French, one Egyptian, one Tunisian, and a Cuban player with their 6 Qatari players. It is possible to buy a national team, it seems.
- The top European Soccer teams rely heavily on imported talent. France, who most recently won the 2018 World Cup, has a team almost entirely consisting of African players, who are ironically subjected to horrific racism when they're NOT playing for the National Team.
- In women's basketball, American superstar Diana Taurasi sat out the 2015 WNBA seasonnote at the request of the Russian club she was playing for during the traditional basketball season. Her Russian club, which then had her under contract for about $1.5 million a season, paid her a bonus well in excess of the WNBA's maximum salary of $107,000 to sit out the summer.note
- The NCAA conference realignment in the early 2010s started out as this — a couple of big conferences saw the chance to add members and make even more money than they were already swimming in, schools saw the same kind of dollar signs as well, and chaos ensued.
- Fork Parker, The CFO of Devolver Digital, (possibly jokingly) states that he only takes in semi-indie games so he can fund his jet ski and yacht. Most of his interviews ham it up about it. The other half of the interview is him mocking people who get antsy about video game violence.
- Activision president Bobby Kotick has always made clear he's more interested in profits than making games (not that it hasn't worked, as the company went from "struggling with the new times" to "biggest in the business"), to the point that a few games were passed over due to not being Cash Cow Franchise candidates and a few series and studios were killed for failing to meet time and gross expectations.
- Gameloft (an offshoot of Ubisoft) makes video game-equivalents of The Mockbuster for mobile platforms like iPhone. When confronted about this in an interview, the CEO of the company said it's just the business of the industry and that people should expect "one new idea" per year.
- Speaking of Gameloft's parent company, sales representative Tony Key announced that Ubisoft will only make games that can have sequels or money-printing franchise.
- Ian McKellen stated this was the reason he kept himself involved with the Lord of the Rings video games (before the cast became contractually obliged to participate); despite the silliness of the job ("You have to say [things] like 'over here, Hobbits! Over here, Legolas!'"), he mentioned that he made more money off the games than the films themselves.
- Valve has accused of becoming this since between the late 2000s or early 2010s with making Counter-Strike and Dota 2 as Cash Cow Franchises, neglecting to finish the Half-Life series, and refusing to do anything to moderate the tidal wave of Shovelware on Steam.
- Taro Yoko often claims that he'll do anything for money, but considering his eccentricity, his willingness to listen to his superiors paling in comparison to his willingness to do everything they haven't told him not to do, and colleagues stating that "there's no one that doesn't move for money as much as him," it's quite obvious that he's actually Doing It for the Art, and the money-grubbing persona he's built up around himself is just a joke.
- Jeremy Heath-Smith, the chief executive of Core Design, was very open about what motivates him to keep assembling new teams for yet another Tomb Raider game. On the other hand, he was always making sure all the team members get fat and even slices of the money made by the studio for the harrowing work to push yet another game in 8 months. He is still fondly remembered by all the members of the staff.
For me, it was really important that they did something with that money - bought a house, or invested it (...) I was always the advocate of "Lets make as much hay as we can while the sun shines. And while thats not, from a creative perspective, the best approach, it certainly is one approach when the sun is out."
- William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan never got on particularly well, and both resented that they received far more recognition for their light comic operettas than their serious work (in Gilbert's case, his now mostly forgotten poetry and in Sullivan's the opera Ivanhoe). However, their light operettas were hugely successful, with both of them making money hand over fist, and the two were often forced back into collaboration by looming impunity. Gilbert, on being confronted with the failure (relative to his previous work The Mikado) of Ruddigore pointed out that Ruddigore had made him over seven thousand pounds (equivalent of somewhere along the lines of half a million pounds in 2018) in its one-year run, and that he would gladly take a couple more similar "failures".
- In Lil' Formers, this is Devastator Jr's sheepish excuse to Devastator Sr (G1) to why he went on show in Bayformers.
Devastator Sr: Junior! What were you thinking?! My own son, parading around with no crotchplate on!
Devastator Jr: C'mon Dad! It was important for the role... and don't you know how much money that movie made?
Devastator Sr: You know who else makes a lot of money? HOOKERS! But they don't brag about what they did to get it!
- Ian MacDonald stated that this was his ultimate goal behind doing Bruno the Bandit, and that his utter failure to monetize the comic after eleven years was the main reason he gave up.
- This was the reason Christian Weston Chandler created Sonichu, holding the belief that this character would become a big hit. The Trolls were quick to tell him that's not how things work.
- Brad Guigar has stated that the reason the original Evil, Inc. ended in favor of the more erotic spin-off was that they're more profitable.
- Miracle of Sound sometimes has to make songs based on upcoming games in order to keep himself afloat.
- Because YouTube offers creators such instantaneous feedback in terms of what audiences do and dont want to watch, its usually pretty easy to notice when a creator starts indulging this trope. More than a few YouTubers have abruptly turned their channels into gaming channels usually centred around trendy games like Minecraft or Fortnite simply because theyve found it too hard to effectively monetize other forms of content.
- Speaking of YouTube, the site's been intentionally lenient with big-name content creators violating community guidelines, as they bring the site the most money. For example; Logan Paul uploads a video of himself at a Japanese forest known for suicide. The video sparked outrage among the site's users and media outlets cover it. YouTube decides to remove his channels from Google Preferred (a premium advertising program), issue a strike and condemn his actions over a week after the video was posted, and Logan voluntarily deleted the video.note A few weeks later, Logan posts a video of himself shooting some dead rodents with a taser. YouTube opts to suspend advertising on his videos for two weeks when anyone else would've had their channel terminated had they done the exact same thing.
- Strippin did a video in order to help promote Divergent because he would get enough money to pay two months' worth of rent. He would later go on to apologize for the video on Reddit and pull it, saying it was shit and that he only uploaded it to make sure he'd get paid.
- The Nostalgia Critic loves to accuse big-name actors of this when they appear in the schlock he has to review. All for fun, of course. This includes Abe Vigoda when he appeared in Good Burger, Christopher Plummer in Rock-A-Doodle, and Christopher Lee in Howling II: Stirba: Werewolf Bitch.
- 1960s crooner Johnny Mathis confessed he did the famous theme song to Trans Lux's The Mighty Hercules cartoon series purely for the cash plus residuals; nothin' wrong with that!
- The Simpsons:
- Harry Shearer is of two minds about the money he makes from the show, saying that he and the cast get paid too much and too little at the same time (too much, since they really do get paid an obscene amount, and too little because the amount is still a minuscule fraction of what their work makes for Fox). He's been highly critical of the show's quality, he has never done a DVD Commentary, and the actors (himself included) are some of the highest-paid in animation.
- This may be true for most of the cast, given their infamous salary disputes with Fox over the decades that led to them being the highest-paid voice actors on TV. Matt Groening, despite his producer credit, always sided with the actors during these fights... until Fox threatened to cancel the show outright unless the actors took a pay cut.
- This is part of the reason Matt Groening made The Simpsons at all. Fox originally approached him about doing a cartoon version of his indie comic Life in Hell, but then at the last minute, he learned that Fox was planning to make him sign away all of his rights to the series (this included giving Fox executives creative control over the original comic itself). Unwilling to give up Life In Hell, but still wanting that sweet Hollywood money, Matt hastily sketched a family-based heavily upon his own (including the names). The rest is history.
- Also an in-universe example in "The Book Job", in which Homer, Bart, and some others write a book purely to make money, while Lisa, trying to write a book for the love of writing, gets into a serious case of writer's block. Meanwhile, the financially-driven book winds up being so good that Homer and the others end up caring more about the final work than the money they stand to gain from it.
- Why Danny Elfman wound up doing the official theme to Batman: The Animated Series instead of series composer Shirley Walker. Originally, the theme was supposed to be the heroic refrain heard in each episode (usually when Batman is swooping into action) and the opening of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, but after Elfman saw the influx of royalty money he was getting from his The Simpsons theme, he took up the offer to do a rearrangement of his Batman (1989) theme for the animated show (which also used his film theme in a couple of early episodes), as well as scoring themes for several other television shows later. Which would certainly explain his involvement with Point Pleasant and Fifty Shades of Grey...
- Donald F. Glut, one of the writers for The Transformers, has admitted to disliking the series, and said that he did it strictly for the money:
None of the writing on this series, in my opinion, was good or passionate or, sometimes (my own included, like The Autobot Run) even adequate. But we got paid well for writing them fast.
- An in-universe example in the Hey Arnold! episode "Pre-Teen Scream" was when pop "singer" Ronnie Matthews admits to Phoebe Heyerdahl that he was only a handsome manufactured Idol Singer who merely entered the music industry for money and glamour rather than genuine talent.
- A meme of one of the villains from Tom and Jerry: The Movie saying "We've got to have money!" is used all over the internet to represent this trope, usually in a mocking manner.
- Parodied in MAD magazine's satire of Rocky III. In the second-to-last panel, we see a few pairs of eyes in the darkness of the fight's audience, with Speech Bubbles: "Yep, he set himself up for another sequel." "Why does he do it?" "The same reason we ALL do it!" In the final panel, the speakers are revealed to be movie characters, among them, Brody from Jaws, James Bond and Darth Vader. They cry in unison, "MONEY!!!!"
- In general, this trope is the relationship between Superhero comics and their adaptations: While the comics are the official canon, the "real" money is in the movies and the merchandise.
- The same applies to manga and anime. Some artists really push for their manga to be adapted to anime, as that's where the money really is.
- Individuals who enter competitions online also count for this trope. Their motives for why they need the money obviously vary, but for some, it's seen as a quick way to try, and the challenge as well. It may not even matter if the other prizes are less desirable, the money is the main thing for these people, known as "compers".
- The Thorn CiviTEQ LED streetlight is this for Austrian streetlighting company Thorn Lighting. Although designs such as the Thorn Isaro are more Awesome, Dear Boy, this trope is the reason Lancashire County Council in the United Kingdom went for the Thorn CiviTEQ across Lancashire (excluding Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, who are separate local authorities not under their jurisdiction) even though there were other designs on offer.
- While some of the women on Playboy want a push on their careers, most probably want the paycheck - helps that sometimes the cover model will get a bonus based on how copies her issue sells.
- This is the reason why many actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. appear at conventions even if its for past projects they'd rather forget. They receive sizeable appearance fees plus extra for each autograph they sign and photo they take.