Celebrities know how to turn their fame into fortune, it’s how they play this game called life. Movies, performances, speaking engagements, endorsements, and more are just a few of the ways that famous folks make mountains of money. However, that does not mean that celebs aren’t discerning. Many refuse gigs that could have earned them millions of dollars because they are opposed to their principles or simply because they did not want to do them. Yes, many celebrities have turned down jaw-dropping amounts of cash simply because they had something they wanted to do more.
We wanted to discover just how much money famous people have left on the table so we compiled a list of some of the most massive paydays that celebs simply walked away from. From blockbuster sequels to political fundraisers, there is no shortage of gigs that celebrities have turned down in favor of something much more attractive. Let’s take a look at some remarkable fortuned that celebs have passed on to better understand just how much these beloved individuals can afford to walk away from!
Bruce Willis Said No to The Expendables 3
After the success of the first two films, producers slated The Expendables 3 to begin filming. However, the films’ star, Bruce Willis, wanted $1 million a day to appear in the movie. The actor was wanted for four days of shooting and was offered $3 million. He insisted on $4 million for the appearance but executives said no. So, he walked away from $3 million.
Pamala Anderson Said no to ‘The X Files’
Actor Pamela Anderson was originally cast as the lead in The X Files as FBI agent Dana Scully. Instead, she chose to continue her role in Baywatch. The X Files became a massive hit thanks, in no small part, to Gillian Anderson in the role of Dana Scully. Over the years, Gillian Anderson has made more than $30 million from the show.
Ja Rule Passed on ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’
Rapper Ja Rule was in the first The Fast and the Furious movie and was offered $500,000 to appear in the sequel. However, the entertainer said that he wanted to take his acting career more seriously and declined to appear in the film.
Emily Browning Did Not Audition for ‘Twilight’
Despite Twilight author, Stephenie Meyer, offering Australian actor Emily Browning the role of Bella in Twilight, Browning declined an audition and passed on the part. The films made Kristen Stewart an international superstar and one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. According to Forbes, she made over $40 million on the films.
The Smiths Did Not Have a Coachella Reunion
Pioneering post-punk band, The Smiths, were offered $5 million to reunite and perform at Coachella in 2006. Despite the handsome offer, members of the band refused to set aside differences and come together.
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Did Not Sell North’s Photo
Shortly after the birth of her first child, Kim Kardashian and, then husband, Kanye West declined an offer to release as photo of North West. An outlet from Australia offered the celebrities $3 million for a photo of the baby but the pair stood firm that they would not release the little one’s picture at that time.
Hulk Hogan Could Have Been the George Foreman of Grills
After retiring from wrestling, Hulk Hogan was approached to endorse and be a celebrity spokesperson for kitchen appliances, mainly a grill. However, he was too late to respond and the company ultimately went with George Foreman to be the grill’s spokesperson, earning the athlete over $200 million. Hogan really missed an opportunity!
Shaquille O’Neal Passed on Starbucks
Basketball superstar and savvy investor, Shaquille O’Neal was approached to invest in a coffee company in 1993. However, O’Neal did not drink coffee and so he declined the opportunity to invest in a little company you might have heard of called Starbucks. Would he have invested in the begininning, he would now have millions in returns.
Dave Chappelle Left $50 Million Behind
Comedian Dave Chappelle created and starred in his hit comedy show The Dave Chappelle Show from 2003-2006. More episodes of the show had been ordered and a contract already drawn up to reward the entertainer $50 million for more content. However, he decided to leave the show and the money behind.
Matt Damon Did not ‘Avatar’
One of the most famous celebrities on this list, Matt Damon was offered a lead role in Avatar and 10% of the film’s profits from director James Cameron. He ultimately declined to take the part. We wonder if he is kicking himself now as the film went on to become the second highest-grossing movie ever after its release. Damon missed out on over $250 million.
Katie Holmes Chose Her Education Over Buffy
Actor Katie Holmes became a household name after appearing in the hit teen drama Dawson’s Creek. She was offered the role of Buffy in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series but passed on it to instead finish her high school degree. Sarah Michelle Gellar took the role and earned over $15 million for her work on it.
Sean Connery Was Almost Gandalf
Sean Connery is best known for originating the role of James Bond for film. But, that was not the only franchise the star could have been a massive part of. He was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movies. He was reportedly offered $6 million per film and an additional 15% stake in the films’ profits at the box office. He’s another one of the celebrities who walked away from money, big money! He would have earned nearly $450 million had he taken the deal.
James Arthur Said No to Celebrity Big Brother
Musician James Arthur won his season of The X Factor in 2002 and went on to release a hit album. However, there was some controversy that caused him to leave the record label Syco. Celebrity Big Brother approached him about being on a season of the hit reality series and offered over $300,000 dollars for him to participate. Fearing that no one would take his music seriously, he declined the offer.
The Beatles Declined a Reunion Concert
Members of The Beatles decided to part ways in 1970 after a decade of performing together. Just a few short years after the break-up, the band was offered $10 million for a reunion concert in 1974. They declined. Then, in 1976, they were offered $30 million. They declined. Just a month after the $30 million offer was made, they were offered $50 but ultimately declined to do a reunion for that amount as well. We guess the song “Can’t Buy Me Love” was true after all.
Vince Gilligan Did Not Break Bad
Breaking Bad was a super hit of a show that was created by Vince Gilligan. Executives offered the creator $75 million for an additional three episodes of the final season but the showrunner declined the offer and left the ending as he had written it.
Keep Reading to Discover Even More Celebrities Who Walked Away from Big Money
Jodie Foster Was Done with Clarise
Hot off her win for Best Actress for her work in The Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster was offered $15 million to reprise the role in a sequel to the blockbuster movie. She decided not to move forward with the role as she was not a fan of the source material for the sequel.
No Speed for Keanu Reeves
Another one of the celebrities to pass on a lucrative sequel is Keanu Reeves. After the massive success of Speed, the movie’s star was asked to return for even more of it. He was offered $12 million to play the part but after reading the script, he decided the movie was not for him.
Michael Keaton Wanted No More Batman
Actor Michael Keaton was paid $5 million for the first Batman movie he appeared in and $10 million for the second. He was asked to appear in a third, Batman & Robin, and was offered $15 million but like Keanu, he was no fan of the script and passed on the opportunity.
More Batman Drama
Just like with Keaton, Christian Bale also declined a sequel to the movies he starred in. He made over $50 million dollars for the first three movies he appeared in and was offered an additional $50 million to appear in a fourth one. He later said that he respected director Christopher Nolan‘s wishes to end the franchise as a trilogy. Celebrities really turn down a lot of money when it comes to sequels.
Will Ferrell Said No More Elf
Comedy superstar Will Ferrell walked away from an overall deal that would have seen him return to his role in the holiday classic Elf. Yes, despite his endearing performance as Buddy, Ferrell declined $29 million to reprise the role. What with these celebrities not doing sequels?
There Could Have Been More Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian and creator of the classic sitcom Seinfeld, was approached to do an additional 22 episodes of the show with a payday amounting to $110 million. The star did not want to do any more of his show and says that he ended it at the perfect moment for him. Okay!
ZZ Top Would Not Shave for $1 Million
Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill are two members of the rock band, ZZ Top. In the 1970s, the pair decided to grow out their beards and it became a signature look for the bandmates for decades. Gillette offered the two of them $1 million to shave off their iconic facial hair for a commercial. The pair decided against it.
Who Turned Down $1 Billion?
ABBA is one of the best-selling bands of all time, selling hundreds of millions of records worldwide. They were the biggest act of the 1970s but decided to call it quits in 1982 when they split up. 20 years later, in 2000, the group was offered $1 billion (yes with a B) for a reunion tour. We guess they didn’t want to live “In a rich man’s world.”
Gotye Said No to YouTube
“Somebody That I Used to Know” was released in 2011 and is the most successful song written by the musician Gotye. The music video for the song was uploaded to YouTube but the artist decided not to monetize the video despite it getting nearly 2 billion views. He missed out on nearly $2 million. The artist did not want his music associated with ads and products.
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Lady Gaga Turned Down the Republican Party
In 2012, Lady Gaga was offered $1 million to perform at the Republican Party Convention. Although she is an outspoken liberal, the RNC tried to sweeten the deal and change the musician’s mind by offering to donate an additional $150,000 to charity. She still declined.
There you go! Can you believe that so many celebrities have walked away from so much money? Well, many of the celebrities on this list are very successful and established which means they get to be pickier about the projects they decide to work on. We were shocked by some of the huge payments offered but we totally get why these artists would pass them up.\
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 0.1 Bruce Willis Said No to The Expendables 3
- 0.2 Pamala Anderson Said no to ‘The X Files’
- 0.3 Ja Rule Passed on ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’
- 0.4 Emily Browning Did Not Audition for ‘Twilight’
- 0.5 The Smiths Did Not Have a Coachella Reunion
- 0.6 Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Did Not Sell North’s Photo
- 0.7 Hulk Hogan Could Have Been the George Foreman of Grills
- 0.8 Shaquille O’Neal Passed on Starbucks
- 0.9 Dave Chappelle Left $50 Million Behind
- 0.10 Matt Damon Did not ‘Avatar’
- 0.11 Katie Holmes Chose Her Education Over Buffy
- 0.12 Sean Connery Was Almost Gandalf
- 0.13 James Arthur Said No to Celebrity Big Brother
- 0.14 The Beatles Declined a Reunion Concert
- 0.15 Vince Gilligan Did Not Break Bad
- 1 Keep Reading to Discover Even More Celebrities Who Walked Away from Big Money
- 1.1 Jodie Foster Was Done with Clarise
- 1.2 No Speed for Keanu Reeves
- 1.3 Michael Keaton Wanted No More Batman
- 1.4 More Batman Drama
- 1.5 Will Ferrell Said No More Elf
- 1.6 There Could Have Been More Seinfeld
- 1.7 ZZ Top Would Not Shave for $1 Million
- 1.8 Who Turned Down $1 Billion?
- 1.9 Gotye Said No to YouTube
- 1.10 Lady Gaga Turned Down the Republican Party
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