Contrary to popular belief, being a Hollywood actor is a tough job. Yes, it often comes with perks that most people could only dream of—but when it comes down to it, getting in the right takes on set requires long hours of tireless work in often difficult circumstances. As such, when actors move their way up the food chain, they allow themselves to negotiate more than just compensation. The various demands actors slip into their contracts range from practical to outright hilarious. Read on to learn about wackiest things actors have demanded in order to agree to take a role.
Men in Black II, starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Rosario Dawson, grossed $441.8 million when it came out in 2002. That’s lucky for the people in charge of the film’s budget, considering one of the actor’s contractual demand before signing onto the project.
That actor was Will Smith, who is generally one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood—by his fans and colleagues. Perhaps when you’re that loved, the demands you make in your contracts makes sense. To play Agent J in the second Men in Black, Smith wanted a $2-million trailer, which included two bedrooms, two baths and a private movie theater.
During filming for 2014’s psycho thriller Gone Girl, Ben Affleck refused to do something that was required in the script. It might seem trivial to some, but as a Boston-native and die-hard Red Sox fan, Affleck would absolutely not agree to wear a Yankees hat.
“David, I love you, I would do anything for you. But I will not wear a Yankees hat,” the actor recalled telling the movie’s director, David Fincher, at the time. “I just can’t. I can’t wear it because it’s going to be a thing, David. I will never hear the end of it.” Instead, Affleck sported a Mets hat.
Like journalists pitch stories to their editors and psychologists remember their patients’ names, memorizing lines tends to be a big part of an actor’s job. But once an actor gets as big as Johnny Depp, everything is up in the air.
During filming for the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Depp actually didn’t memorize his lines. Instead, the actor, notorious for being out-of-the-box, reportedly had a sound engineer feed him his lines through an earpiece. Depp’s acting is so spot-on, though, that you can barely tell! Knowing this particular actor’s reputation, this demand pales in comparison to what it could have been.
When someone makes it as big as Uma Thurman in Hollywood, it’s expected and understandable that they’d have a great deal of demands written into their contracts with film companies. But Thurman’s demand in her contract for Eloise in Paris might just top them all.
The actress allegedly refused to partake in filming of the movie if she didn’t have veto power over her co-stars and even the director. That’s quite the demand! But, when you’re Uma Thurman, why not? She also requested to have access to three cell phones. It’s unclear whether Thurman is a CIA agent or just needed a burner phone or two.
An Academy-award winning actor and masculine icon who was on the cover of People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” cover, you can best believe George Clooney is picky about the movie roles he takes on and the conditions in which he works. When Clooney filmed Gravity in Surrey, England, he had a list of demands ready.
Apparently, the actor wanted to have an entire beachfront house equipped with a basketball court built for him in order to partake in the movie. Acting can be an exhausting job that requires incredibly long work hours, so Clooney threw in a hot tub request as well. Seems reasonable enough.
Sometimes, discovering the requests actors write into their contract can be more than just entertaining—it can provide a glimpse into their personality quirks. Such is the case with acting powerhouse Eddie Murphy, whose demand listed here isn’t the priciest—relatively speaking—but it is unusual.
The Oscar-nominee apparently doesn’t like to use things twice. Murphy requests a new pair of underwear and socks every morning before filming—and with the tags still on. That fact is especially interesting considering Murphy has been revealed as being overly cleanly, showering multiple times a day. He has said he’s even hesitant to shake his fans’ hands!
Samuel L. Jackson told The New York Times that his success has reached such epic proportions that, when he’s on a movie set, he’s basically in charge. One of the highest-grossing actors of all time, Jackson flatly refuses to do any extra takes.
“I’m at that point where I can say: ‘Uh, you know, that’s not going to be in the movie, right? We already got it, we got it when we did this, that, and that. I’m not going to do that,’” he said. The actor also writes the option to go golfing twice a week into all of his film contracts.
Not all of the demands actors make in their film contracts are extravagant or reveal some kind of hilarious personality quirk—in fact, not all of them are even physical. In Queen Latifah’s case, she simply had a reasonable request regarding her characters in movies.
After the Oscar-nominee’s iconic death scene in Set it Off, she decided enough was enough. Since 1996, Latifah has included a clause in all her contracts that literally state her characters can’t die. It’s more than a matter of principle—it’s an investment. As she has explained it, “If I die, I can’t be in the sequel.” Touché.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the universe’s answer to millions of Star Wars fans longing for a correction to the Star Wars prequels, which were universally considered mediocre films. It was meant to bring back the franchise’s original spirit. Whether it succeeded is up for debate, but what isn’t is that fans everywhere were devastated with the death of Han Solo.
The film was nostalgic, bringing back characters like Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia. So it was quite shocking to many that Solo would be killed off in the very same film he was reintroduced. But the truth is, Harrison Ford—for whatever reason—repeatedly tried to convince George Lucas to kill of his character, Solo. In fact, one of his demands in order to sign up for the new sequels was that Solo would be killed off!
Very few people would turn down the offer to become a super hero—even if that hero doesn’t actually have supernatural abilities. But it turns out that, while filming Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. grew weary of his intricate Iron Man suit. It was so heavy he couldn’t take it anymore.
Eventually, the actor requested a solution to hauling around the costume, which he deemed unnecessary and too cumbersome. Instead, the special effects team adds the suit digitally so he can focus better on his acting on set. Compared to some of the other demands on this list, Downey Jr.’s seems pretty reasonable.
Nicolas Cage is considered on of the more eccentric actors in this list, and like some of his method-actor colleagues, Cage likes to put his all into a role. This mindset led him to make a request that director Robert Bierman simply couldn’t stomach.
During filming for 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss, a movie about a publishing executive who is convinced he’s becoming a vampire after being bitten by a bat, Cage insisted that a live bat be used during the biting scene. After a long and healthy debate between Cage and Bierman, the two agreed to use an animatronic bat. Communication is key!
Sir Roger Moore is an icon for having played fictional British secret agent James Bond. What Moore reportedly required from the film company in order to sign on as the next Bond in the ’70s is truly spectacular. Spoiler alert: It sounds like something Bond himself would might have requested in his shoes.
Specifically, the English actor required an endless supply of fine cigars to agree to be the next 007, literally writing a clause about Montecristo cigars into his first contract for the film. It’s unclear whether Moore wanted to use the cigars as part of a method to get into the role, or just enjoyed them as a stress-reliever after a long shoot.
The film being discussed here is Adam McKay’s buddy cop comedy The Other Guys, which came out in 2010. You might wonder why that is, considering Paris Hilton wasn’t in the film at all. Well, it turns out Hilton was initially offered a role as herself.
McKay cancelled the socialite’s part in the film due to her demands on set, which included having cast members bring her live lobsters on set when she was hungry and bottles of Grey Goose vodka. While that might be a bit much to ask considering she was only offered a small cameo, who can blame Hilton for trying to get the best bang for her buck?
Daniel Day-Lewis was widely praised and won an Oscar for playing America’s first Republican president in the 2012 historical drama Lincoln. In order for the actor to get into the role he played so well, Day-Lewis made a few interesting demands, which director Steven Spielberg agreed to grant given his reputation.
Day-Lewis, a Brit, refused to talk to anyone who was British in order to polish his 19th-century American accent. He also flatly rejected using any technology that President Lincoln wouldn’t have had access to at the time. His last request was perhaps most humorous: Day-Lewis asked that everyone refer to him as “Mr. President” on set.
The Expendables films brilliantly put together a bunch of big-name older action stars and let them save the day, proving age really is just a number. But, in The Expendables 3, one star was conspicuously missing—Bruce Willis. That’s because one of his demands couldn’t be met by the director.
The film is known for its fun vibe. But at the end of the day acting is hard work, and Willis felt it necessary to negotiate his compensation. Like in the previous installments, Willis was offered $3 million for a small role. The Die Hard actor, however, wasn’t satisfied and said he’d drop out unless he was paid $1 million per day of filming. In the end, Harrison Ford replaced him!
During filming for the 1996 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, a film known for its troubled production, screen legend Marlon Brando made the best of an unfavorable situation. The cast departures early on included director Richard Stanley, Bruce Willis and James Woods, but Brando was known for being warm and kind on set.
That being said, the legendary actor made a demand that seems to suggest—well, who knows. Remember the miniature version of Dr. Moreau who follows Brando’s character around throughout the movie? That character was an improvisation. It turns out Brando befriended a little person during filming and refused to perform unless the director allowed the man accompany him during his scenes.
Following the death of the late actor Robin Williams, tales about his kindness and humanity came out in droves. Among those tales was the touching story of the iconic actor’s heartening requirements, which drastically differ from everyone else’s on this list.
Robin’s request was highly unusual and potentially tricky for production companies to agree to, but it was truly heartwarming. “For every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work,” booking agent Brian Lord said. “I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that,” he added.
Jamie Foxx’s head must have been in the clouds after his Oscar-winning performance in Ray, because the demands he made ahead of his next film were spectacular. When negotiating his contract for the 2006 adaptation of Miami Vice, Foxx demanded to be paid more than co-star Colin Farrell.
That’s not all. The actor also had an entourage and demanded a private jet. To add to all these demands, Foxx refused to work anywhere near a boat or plane—even though he was yearning for a jet. That last one was a difficult one to accommodate, considering this was an action movie being filmed after all, and set in a coastal city.
Game of Thrones, the HBO show that turned George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series into a television masterpiece, is known for its intricate plotlines. In the first few seasons of the show, not many of the various story lines converge and therefore not all of the show’s characters interact with one another.
That changes when everything comes together at the dawn of the “Great War” between the living and the dead. Still, there are at least two characters who will never appear together in the same scene: Cersei and Bronn. That’s because Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, and Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn, used to date back in the day. Sounds like a good way to mitigate the difficulty of getting in a good take.
Samuel L. Jackson’s star power is just so epic that only one slide detailing his ability to get his way wouldn’t suffice. When filming began for the second Star Wars prequel, Attack of the Clones, Jackson made a request that would lionize his character for likely the rest of human history.
Initially, Master on the Jedi Council Mace Windu was likely to wield a blue or green lightsaber, much like the rest of the light-side users throughout the Star Wars films. Jackson insisted, however, that his character be given a purple lightsaber to stand out. Thus was born another fun dimension in the Star Wars universe: the legend of Mace Windu’s unique blade.
In addition to being a muscular, masculine icon, it turns out Arnold Schwarzenegger is quite particular when it comes to filming his movies. That was especially true for his iconic film Terminator 3, for which he drafted a 33-page contract outlining his various demands.
Those demands included a trailer stocked with gym gear and a three-bedroom suite wherever filming commenced. But the Austria-born action star also wanted more authority on set, demanding the ability to select the director, his co-stars and crew. And basically everyone else working on the set. One has to wonder whether he was so particular as governor of California as well.
Throughout the years, Wesley Snipes has developed quite the reputation of being antisocial on set. Getting in the right mindset to play a role well isn’t easy, and different actors have different methods of doing so. It seems Snipes’ method is to stay in his own head.
And antisocial means really antisocial. During filming for the Blade trilogy, Snipes would reportedly only appear for close-up shots and spend the rest of the time in his trailer. He even went as far as refusing to speak with the director. Instead, he’d communicate via Post-It notes. It’s unclear what Snipes did all alone in his trailer.
Barbra Streisand has always wanted “to be somebody, to be famous… you know, to get out of Brooklyn,” she has said. She certainly did, and the fact that she can make demands regarding the kind of toilet paper that will be available when she’s filming is a testament to that.
The iconic actress reportedly demands to have peach-colored toilet paper to match her complexion whenever getting on board with a film. Perhaps even more telling of the actress’s personality, Streisand’s contracts regularly demand that rose petals be placed in the toilets she uses. The reasons for the demands are not known, but perhaps she simply enjoys the latter’s fragrance.
Shia LeBeouf is known for many things, one of which is being a method actor. LeBeouf goes to extreme measures in order to get into his roles, but during the filming of David Ayer’s 2014 war film Fury, LaBeouf truly went above and beyond.
LeBeouf’s character is shown throughout the movie with various face wounds, but for him, fake wounds weren’t convincing enough. The young actor decided a few real wounds would be more convincing than anything the makeup artist hired for the job could do, so he demanded he be allowed to cut himself before his shoots. It goes to show how devoted LeBeouf is as an actor.
This one isn’t a case of an actor making an eccentric demand in their contract, but it’s too good to not be on this list. Garry Marshall has a reputation for being a master of directing family-friendly blockbusters like Pretty Woman.
It’s not as known that Marshall put a clause in his contract that guaranteed a role for his close friend Hector Elizondo in all of his films. The most heartwarming part is Elizondo didn’t know about the clause for years and appeared in all of Marshall’s films until the director’s passing. It just goes to show how important connections are in the entertainment industry.
Sources: The New York Times, ABC News, Vanity Fair