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Disney/MCU Oscar-Nominated Actor Feels ‘Cheated’ By His Pay and Work

Disney/MCU Actor Feels Cheated

Our natural inclination is to believe that every person we see in movies and on television must live a glamorous lifestyle filled with expensive homes and private jets. Especially veteran actors who the audience recognizes from several different projects. Those people must be well off, right?

It turns out that the audience’s view of the fabulous lifestyle of a veteran actor is far overblown. Djimon Hounsou has been a star in Hollywood for more than 30 years. His breakout role came with Amistad (1997), and he has since starred in the Best Picture winner Gladiator (2000) with Russell Crowe and was nominated for his second Oscar for Blood Diamond (2006) along with his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Disney/MCU Actor Feels Cheated

Credit: Marvel

Since his second Academy Award nomination in 2006, Hounsou has been relegated to primarily minor movie roles or villains. He starred in the role of Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and reprised the same position in Captain Marvel (2019). 

In an interview with The Guardian, Hounsou told the paper that he struggles to make ends meet as an actor and feels cheated by the Hollywood system.

Hounsou told The Guardian:

I’m still struggling to try to make a dollar! I’ve come up in the business with some people who are absolutely well off and have very little of my accolades. So I feel cheated, tremendously cheated, in terms of finances and in terms of the workload as well. I still have to prove why I need to get paid. They always come at me with a complete low ball: ‘We only have this much for the role, but we love you so much and we really think you can bring so much’… Film after film, it’s a struggle. I have yet to meet the film that paid me fairly.

Hounsou said that after his breakout role in Amistad, people in Hollywood did not think he was an actor. They thought he was just someone who arrived on the screen for this one particular role. And despite having the most screen time in the film, his co-star Anthony Hopkins was nominated for an Academy Award, not him. He once again felt slighted by his role in Blood Diamond. Despite both he and DiCaprio having the same screen time, DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor, while Hounsou was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Disney/MCU Actor Feels Cheated

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, Groot (voice: Vin Diesel), 2017. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

While in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hounsou believes he was underpaid compared to his less accomplished co-stars. In Guardians of the Galaxy, star Chris Pratt received $1.5 million, while Vin Diesel got a reported $13 million to be the voice of Groot. That is around $4.25 million per word. At the same time, Hounsou was paid significantly less for his role in the film, despite being a more prestigious actor.

Most original MCU actors were paid quite well for their work, but none more so than Robert Downey Jr., who reportedly got $75 million to play Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Chris Evans got $15 million to play Captain America in the same film. So, being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe paid quite well for some.

Scarlett Johansson sued Disney and Marvel for releasing Black Widow (2021) on Disney Plus while it was still in theaters. Johansson earned $20 million for the role but was due more in bonus money for her appearance in the film and its success.

Disney/MCU Actor Feels Cheated

Credit: Marvel

Hounsou even took a shot at the MCU in the interview. He is currently starring in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), and he told The Guardian that only DC had “a level of respect.” He said that DC realized his talent and beefed up his role in this film—something the MCU did not do for Hounsou.

With MCU cutting back on its projects, it’s hard to believe we’ll see Hounsou back anytime soon.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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