F-you Money. Everybody wants it. Few get it. You know what F-you money is, right? It’s that level of big, big money that buys true financial freedom. Having it means that no one’s the boss of you and you have the power to blow off any job or business proposition you damn well please without worrying about how you’ll pay for your kids’ private schools or whether you’ll have to curb your appetite for the finer things of life.
In Hollywood, it also means never having to do a movie you don’t want to. Who’s earned F-You Money in this town? For starters, there’s Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel. On the 2016 Forbes list, each of them raked in a minimum of $35 million in salaries. Hart led the pack with $87.5 million, while others like Johnson were reported to have hauled in a not-too-shabby $64.5 million, Matt Damon $55 million and Jennifer Lawrence $51 million.
But it isn’t only big movies that bring in serious bank. To send earnings way up into the multimillions, it also takes product endorsement deals–often targeted to the vast Asian market. Last year, Johnson signed a cushy multi-year deal to be the front man in the Ford Motor Company’s ad campaign “The Specialists at Ford.“ Matt Damon’s earlier decision to join longtime Nespresso spokesperson George Clooney in a 2014 TV ad netted The Martian star a cool $3 million. That, and the piles Damon must have earned to star in the otherwise inexplicable historical action epic The Great Wall, paves the way for him to reaffirm his acting cred by starring in smaller-scale stuff like Alexander Payne’s Downsizing.
But even the guilt and defensiveness actors once felt toward doing commercials broadcast in the U.S. appears to be eroding. Let’s not forget that George Clooney, who gets to star in modest-scale movies like the financial-crisis thriller Money Monster (read our review here) and star in modest-scale movies like Suburbicon, said the following in 2012: “I don’t have to make money. I do films for scale and then, you know, I go do coffee commercials overseas and I make a lot of money doing those, So I get to live in a nice house. And people will say, ‘Oh, that’s a sellout.’ And you know what? Fuck you.” Or remember how in 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio’s reps filed a cease-and-desist order to try and get his Asian market commercial for Jim Beam taken off the web? Good times.
The guilt and defensiveness actors once felt toward doing commercials broadcast in the U.S. appears to be eroding.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence, the world’s highest paid actress, has also been a radiant celebrity face for Dior since 2012, meaning that she is able to shrug off more movie roles than most other young actresses ever get offered. Similarly, Charlize Theron’s 11-year contract with Dior’s J’adore perfume has reportedly already earned her $55 million, making it all the easier for her to spend long months shooting stuff like Mad Max: Fury Road, then reunite with Young Adult writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman on the upcoming indie comedy Tully. Nicole Kidman’s Chanel No. 5 gig of the past decade has netted her an estimated $48 million–exactly the sort of F-you money that allows the actress to do offbeat movies like Genius, Secret In Their Eyes and The Family Fang.
The newly divorcing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie didn’t make the very top of the year’s biggest moneymakers’ list, but don’t shed a tear for either of them: Pitt netted $7 million for doing widely ridiculed Chanel No. 5 perfume ads, and Jolie has hocked Louis Vuitton to the tune of $10 million.
But when it comes to celebrity endorsements, the biggest payday of them all is Beyonce’s record $50 million for swigging Pepsi in commercials and in print ads. Queen Bey doesn’t even have to star in movies like Cadillac Records and Obsessed anymore. Come to think of it, hers might be the sweetest F-you of all.