How Much Did The Actors Get Paid For The LOTR Trilogy?

The Lord Of The Rings trilogy is one of the most lucrative fantasy franchises in history. The J. R. R. Tolkien saga brought in almost $3 billion dollars at the box office and twenty years later is still earning royalties through syndicated premieres, video game adaptations, and merchandise. But the film series didn’t just make loads of money⏤it also changed the lives and careers of many of its small-time stars.

Thanks to their roles in one of the greatest film sagas of all time, many of the actors can attribute a bulk of their net worths to the salaries they earned while filming LOTR. However, some of those salaries didn’t start off as great as you might think. In fact, you may actually be surprised to learn what your favorite actors got paid to play their iconic roles.

Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom

Orlando Bloom Lord of the Rings

Let’s start with the two biggest supporting characters, Samwise Gamgee and Legolas, played by Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom, respectively. According to The Things, Astin only received $250,000 for his role as Frodo Baggins’ best friend, Sam, in all three LOTR films⏤a ridiculously low figure considering how much the franchise made as a whole. Bloom received even less for his role as the elven archer Legolas, signing on to play the role for only $175,000. Don’t feel too sorry for Bloom, though. After landing the role of Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, he went on to amass a net worth of over $40 million.

Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis

For Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis, who played the roles of Frodo Baggins and Gollum, respectively, their starting salaries were a little bit different. Similar to Astin, Woods’ starting salary was originally $250,000 for the first installment of LOTR. However, before the film trilogy came to end, that salary increased to $1 million. On the other hand, Andy Serkis, who had already proven himself to be a valuable and seasoned actor, was offered $1 million right out of the gate.

This is not surprising given that older and more well-known actors usually have more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating their contracts. Given Serkis’ already impressive body of work, his $1 million offer made perfect sense. But he wasn’t the only one.

Ian McKellen

According to Haley Bio Blog, Ian McKellen, who played the iconic role of the wizard Gandalf, also got paid well to join the cast. McKellen took home a grand total of $13 million for his work on Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers. Combined with his earnings from the X-Men franchise, his LOTR salary provided a cushy foundation to help build his $60 million fortune.

John Rhys-Davies

Unfortunately, not every seasoned actor on the LOTR set received the same pay. John Rhys-Davies, for example, had plenty of acting credits to his name but was not as well-known as actors like Serkis and McKellen. By the end of the LOTR trilogy, Davies had accumulated most of his $5 million fortune from the franchise for his role as the dwarf Gimli.

Other stars in the franchise attribute a lot of their financial success to the franchise, but since their salary numbers haven’t been disclosed, it’s harder to pin down how much they were paid to film LOTR. That said, there’s no denying that the franchise boosted many of their careers and helped them amass small fortunes in the process.

Sean Bean

Sean Bean, who played the role of Boromir in the LOTR trilogy, is currently worth $20 million thanks to his work in the franchise.

Dominic Monaghan

Dominic Monaghan, who played the role of Merry, is currently worth $12 million, something he can largely thank LOTR for.

Liv Tyler

Liv Tyler, who played the elven princess Arwen, is now currently worth $50 million after her time acting in LOTR and other mainstream projects like The Incredible Hulk and Ad Astra.

Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen, who is best known for his role as Aragorn, has earned $40 million since his time on the LOTR set. After starring in the 11-time Oscar-winning The Return of the King, he went on to become a three-time Oscar nominee for the films Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic, and Green Book.

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett, who is widely recognized for her role as the royal elf Galadriel, is also one of the few actors to be included in every Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie. The Australian actress already had a stellar career before LOTR, so there’s a good chance that she was also one of the few to negotiate a higher paycheck. Though her salary was never disclosed for those appearances, it’s safe to say that her earnings from LOTR make up a decent chunk of her $80 million fortune.

Regardless of the amount of money they made during their time working on Lord of the Rings, there’s no denying that the franchise heavily impacted many of the actors’ incomes and careers, helping them to quickly reach new levels of stardom and the chance to participate in other big-budget projects. Fans of the series will soon be able to return to Middle-earth when a brand new LOTR TV series arrives on Amazon Prime on Sept. 2, 2022.