Sometimes we hear about actors who make a jaw-dropping salary from playing certain roles. For Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Clooney, who are worth $480 million and $500 million, respectively, this is pretty normal. But did you know that their salaries for Batman and Robin were insanely different? It almost isn’t fair.
Clooney Thought He Sucked in Batman and Robin
George Clooney has repeatedly spoken out about how much he hated his role in Batman and Robin. Firstly, the movie was highly criticized far and wide. Secondly, Clooney thinks he did a poor job playing Batman.
“The only way you can honestly talk about things is to include yourself and your shortcomings in those things,” he told GQ. “Like, when I say Batman & Robin‘s a terrible film, I always go, ‘I was terrible in it.’ Because I was, number one. But also, because then it allows you the ability to say, ‘Having said I sucked in it, I can also say that none of these other elements worked, either.’ You know? Lines like ‘Freeze, Freeze!’ ”
In an interview with Howard Stern, Clooney admitted that he once told Ben Affleck not to take the role in a new Batman movie. And during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Clooney said he was worried he’d “destroyed the franchise.”
“I thought at the time, this was going to be a very good career move,” said Clooney. “It wasn’t.”
When Norton asked about the suit, Clooney called it “brutal,” saying it weighed about 60 lbs at the time. That, and perhaps director Joel Schumacher’s “eccentric” ways. Clooney said that he was constantly reminding Clooney that his character’s parents were dead, and he had nothing to live for. “I’m Batman,” Clooney said in a husky Batman voice, before rolling his eyes into the back of his head and falling backwards on the couch. Okay, so maybe Schumacher’s direction wasn’t exactly thrilling to Clooney’s character development?
One Actor Made $1 Million; The Other Made $25 Million
Or maybe… it was the salary. George Clooney got paid a measly $1 million for his role. Alright, you might think that sounds like a lot. It was 1997, after all, so that was worth about $1.85 million. But Clooney was playing the main role.
Perhaps the problem was that, while in many Batman movies, Batman is sort of put up on a pedestal, that wasn’t the case in Batman and Robin. Clooney’s presence was overshadowed to some extent by actors like Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl), Uma Thurman (Poison Ivy), Chris O’Donnell (Robin), and last but not least, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze).
Schwarzenegger played the big bad villain. He also has the #1 spot on the film’s IMDb page. His salary for playing Mr. Freeze was a whopping $25 million. That would be over $46 million today.
“You have to remember that at that point, I was just an actor getting an acting job. I wasn’t the guy who could greenlight a movie,” Clooney told Howard Stern. “They paid Arnold $25 million to be in it. They paid me like, $1 [million]. And we never even worked together. We never even saw each other. It’s a big monster machine and I just sort of jumped in and did what they said.
“And the truth of the matter is, I was bad in it. And it’s a terrible… Akiva Goldsman, who’s won the Oscar for writing since then, he wrote the screenplay. It’s a terrible screenplay. He’ll tell ya. You know, I’m terrible in it. I’ll tell ya. Joel Schumacher, who just passed away, you know, directed it. And he’d say, ‘yeah, it didn’t work.’ We all sort of go, ‘Yeah. We all, we all whiffed on that one.’ “
George Clooney Found Incredible Success and Wealth Despite Batman
George Clooney started appearing in film and TV in the late 70s and, while in 1997 he may not have been the “greenlight” actor, he certainly became one. He has 80 acting credits to his name, 47 producer credits, a dozen director credits, and 5 credits as a writer. He’s starred in hits like the Ocean’s franchise, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Burn After Reading, and The Ides of March.
Clooney has won three Academy Awards (two for Best Supporting Actor and one for Best Picture as a producer), a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Cecille B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He regularly earns about $20 million for his film roles now, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
But most of his now half-a-billion-dollar net worth isn’t from acting. George Clooney cofounded the extremely popular tequila brand, Casamigos, which he and his partners sold for $1 billion. It’s estimated that he made $230 million from that cut, which after taxes would be about $150 million.
As for Arnold Schwarzenegger? That’s another story. By 1984, he was being paid exorbitant amounts of money for even the smallest of roles. In The Terminator, Arnold was paid $4,400 per word. He only had to say 17 lines, but still. That’s some serious dough for pretty much sitting on your butt.
In the end, the two actors have nearly identical net worths, with Clooney slightly beating out Schwarzenegger. So, chalk it up to experience. Batman and Robin may have been terrible, and Clooney barely made anything from it, but it wasn’t the end of his career or the franchise.