Some actors still make a decent salary from their early roles. Others, not so much.
Our favorite TV shows may be temporary, but their profits are forever.
In late March, Drake received a check for $8.25, allegedly “Degrassi money.”
The Canadian actor-turned rapper portrayed basketball star Jimmy Brooks in the drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation from 2001 to 2007. He stated in an interview that he originally took the job on Degrassi to help his family, which was “very poor, like broke.”
Of course, while $8.25 might have gone a long way for Drake in the past, times have changed. Forbes now lists him as the world’s fifth-wealthiest hip hop artist, with a net worth of $90 million.
It might seem crazy that Drake still profits from his childhood stardom, but many actors still receive residual payments for really old roles. Some of them make even less than Drake does now for Degrassi.
Mayim Bialik-Doogie Howser, M.D.
Doctors make it rain. Actors on doctor shows, not so much. Mayim Bialik, known for playing starring roles in Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, made a guest appearance on Doogie Howser, M.D. alongside a young Neil Patrick Harris, in September, 1990. And almost 27 years later, she’s still getting royalty checks for the episode. The sum? A whopping one cent.
Stephen Hibbert-Pulp Fiction
Stephen Hibbert of National Treasure and Austin Powers found his breakout role in the least glamorous of places: that of a bondage slave in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Hibbert told Vulture that 10 years after the movie’s release, he still gets royalty checks for around $3. “I get to buy a latte on Pulp Fiction!” he boasted.
Others, of course, make bank for royalties — even for shows and films long off the air.
The Cast of Friends
NBC’s beloved sitcom ended in 2004, but there’s no end in sight for its revenue. As of February 2015, Warner Bros. still makes $1 billion each year on the episode, which means Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and company are each each still raking in $20 million annually for their breakout roles. “I get a little something and I go ‘Hey, that’s nice!’” Matthew Perry modestly told ET about his residual checks.
Bob Gunton-The Shawshank Redemption
In 2004, 10 years after The Shawshank Redemption’s release, Bob Gunton was still receiving “close to six figures” annually for his iconic portrayal of the warden. He makes significantly less now, but told the Wall Street Journal “My daughter, years from now, will still be getting checks.”
Charlie Sheen-Two and a Half Men
Charlie Sheen was fired from his role in Two and a Half Men in 2011, but Warner Bros. couldn’t cut the cash flow. He makes $613,000 each month from residual payments, according to DailyMail. This, of course, didn’t stop the highest-paid TV actor at the time from demanding a 50% increase in his salary.
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