Marvel Studios famously pays its leading actors low salaries, locking the likes of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, etc. in for multi-picture deals with the actors earning only a fraction of what they could earn on other studio projects.
The studio adopted this method after the success of the first “Iron Man”. Actor Terrence Howard played Tony Stark’s friend Rhodes on the first film and was replaced by Don Cheadle on the sequels after “contractual differences”. Howard became a symbol, a warning to any actor wanting a pay rise that they are replaceable.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that Howard revealed the nature of those contractual differences – he earned $4.5 million for the first film and was supposed to make $8 million on the sequel. Marvel insisted however that he take a pay cut to $1 million for the second film.
Now, out promoting “The Best Man Holiday,” Howard spoke with Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live about his being replaced and even goes so far as to place the blame directly on a certain actor:
“This is gonna get me in a lot of trouble. It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out.
We did a three picture deal. [I] did the deal ahead of time. A certain amount for the first one. For the second a certain amount.
For the third… they came to me for the second one and said, ‘We will pay you 1/8th of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.’ And I called my friend who I helped get the first job and he didn’t call me back for three months.”
Asked how his relationship is with that friend, Howard replied: “Oh, I love him. God’s gonna bless him” in a tone that indicates he’s still quite angry.