Artists are expressing their disappointment after it was revealed this week that actor Steve Carell was paid a jaw-dropping $12.5 million dollars for his voice performance in Minion: The Rise of Gru.
That disappointment seems even more justified when considering NCBUniversal and Illumination’s latest crossed the $500 million mark at the box office last weekend.
The Rise of Gru had a budget of $80 million, meaning that Carell alone accounted for more than 15% of the film’s cost. That’s a pretty significant portion to be paid for work that Carell himself admits requires very little effort on his part.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world and I will not lie,” he said of voice acting in an interview with CNN’s Kate Bouldan in June 2013 while promoting Despicable Me 2. “Oh, it’s crazy. You can go in and you can look terrible. Yes, you can wear your pajamas. You just show up and you do a stupid voice for about five hours.”
Carell’s sentiment is not unique among A-listers who do voice work for big budget animated features. There is often a disconnect between high profile voice actors who put in a very part-time performance on an animated film and the professionals whose life work goes into making them look good on the big screen.
In that same CNN interview Carell explained, “[I]t took me like two and a half years from the time we first started. You go in every few months and you do one session and they, see, they animate to your voice. So, you’re not watching any animation. So, the animation process takes a long time and they tweak it and they adjust the script.”
In a live action film or series, the actor is the person most responsible for what their character looks like and how it moves on screen. That is not the case in animation, where a huge part of the final performance lies in the hands of the artists who work tirelessly to make the character’s physical manifestation click.
Perhaps The Adventures of Paddington artist Matthew Robert Davies best summed up the general consensus regarding Carell’s big payday in his viral tweet:
I don’t care what anyone says, but most of that budget should be given to the animation staff. Does someone really NEED more than 1-2mil for a few weeks of VO work? That 10mil divided amongst the actual animation studio staff could change lives.
Carell’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” salary was first reported by Variety.