Lisa Kudrow on Why Actors Make So Much Money: “You Never Know When Your Time’s Up”

Time is money — and in Hollywood, the clock is always ticking on your 15 minutes of fame. That’s why stars hold out for big paydays when they have the right leverage, Lisa Kudrow told HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri during an interview on Tuesday, Nov. 4. 

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The Comeback actress, 51, was asked about actors’ salaries because of her experience on Friends, when she and her costars — including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry — negotiated deals to earn $1 million per episode for the show’s final season. Camilleri compared that to the recent contract disputes over at The Big Bang Theory, whose three leads will make a million per ep for the next three seasons of their CBS sitcom. 

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Asked about the justification for such steep pay hikes, Kudrow explained that it’s all relative. “The rationale is that the show is actually generating an enormous amount of money,” she said, so a raise is “affordable to whichever entity has to pay it.”

Lisa Kudrow
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She went on to note that acting is far from a steady job. As plenty of former A-listers can attest, fame is fleeting — there’s always someone else waiting in the wings to steal the spotlight. 

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“For any actor you should try to get as much as you can, because you’re basically freelance,” Kudrow reasoned. “Even if you’re in contract for five years or seven years or whatever it is, then you’re done. It’s the same with sports…I don’t see people complaining too much when [athletes] get these huge salaries. It’s the same thing. You never know when your time’s up.” 

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The comedienne further singled out character-driven TV shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, where the success of the series is based more on the people and the chemistry of the group than on any specific story lines. In those cases especially, she said, “I don’t think it’s out of line to ask, you know, ‘Make me a partner in this endeavor in some way.'”

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