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Actors With The Weirdest Contract Stipulations

By now, most pop culture followers (casual and obsessive) have probably heard some version of a story about the rock band Van Halen and their M&M contract detail. At the height of their popularity, Van Halen included a rider in their contracts with performance venues demanding that they be provided bowls of M&Ms — excluding the brown ones. While Van Halen actually had a legitimate reason for their seemingly high maintenance rider, the whole incident sparked a fascination with the ridiculous excesses of the very famous. 

Musicians, because they interact with and perform at so many different venues compared to actors, are usually the target of any digging for strange contract clauses. But there are plenty of famous Hollywood figures who make demands of studios and filmmakers that many "normal" people would find extravagant to a fault. 

For example, most people wear underwear more than once before they throw it away, and very few professionals in America have contractually protected time off to attend their favorite sports team's home games. Some of the following contract riders seem quite strange at first glance, but make more sense after being considered in the context of such an unorthodox industry. Others are just indulgent. 

Jamie Foxx

After winning a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Ray Charles in "Ray," Jamie Foxx found himself catapulted to a level of fame he'd never experienced before. Despite dipping his toe into a few dramatic projects before "Ray," Foxx had previously made a name for himself as a singer, comedian, and all-around charismatic fellow. After his Oscar win, he worked with famed director Michael Mann on the films "Collateral" and "Miami Vice."

Foxx had signed on to "Miami Vice" before he won his Academy Award, so when production on the film began, he demanded a pay raise so that he would make more money than his co-star, Colin Farrell. Both Mann and Farrell had reputations for being difficult to work with — Mann for his aggressive directing style and Farrell for his longterm addiction issues — but it was Foxx whose demands caused the most issues during production on "Miami Vice," and it wasn't the first or last time that Foxx's career suffered from his on-set behavior.

Foxx's strangest contract stipulation was his refusal to film any scenes that took place on a boat or a plane. Foxx "was afraid of boats, afraid of planes — there were a lot of things where he was afraid for himself," a crew member told Slate. It's understandable that Foxx wanted to avoid danger, but he was also shooting a movie about drug trafficking in Miami, a city well-known for its coastline. Oh, and the movie was his idea in the first place. 

Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson

If you've ever wondered who would win in a three-way fight between "Fast and Furious" franchise characters Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), you'll probably never find out for sure. For most of the "Fast and Furious" films that these three action stars have co-starred in, they've signed a contract with something called an "equal pain" clause attached.

Diesel, for example, didn't want to appear as if he was taking more damage in a fight between his and Statham's characters. But after trying to keep count of every blow that landed and realizing that it required far too much effort, Diesel and his costars devised the "equal pain" clause, which basically says that none of the three can leave a fight looking like they've lost. This clause is the reason that no fights between Toretto, Hobbs, and/or Shaw end with a victor based on physical strength — their bouts are always interrupted by something else happening in the movie before they reach a point where someone needs to win or lose. 

While it may seem like a very vain concern, it does make sense that stars like Statham and Diesel, who have built their careers around playing near-unbeatable characters in popular action films, would be concerned about appearing "weak" on-screen. 

Jack Nicholson and William Frawley

Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 film "Batman" is still considered to be one of the best to ever hit the screen, and Nicholson made sure that his contract for the movie anticipated such a legendary performance. Aside from accepting an initial pay cut in exchange for a percentage of the film's earnings and merchandising — which ended up making Jack Nicholson a very, very wealthy man – his contract had a few other peculiarities. 

Nicholson was the first person attached to "Batman"; his initial involvement actually predated Warner Brothers' recruitment of Tim Burton as the film's director or Michael Keaton as its titular hero. It's no surprise then that the studio and Burton were willing to accommodate Nicholson's contract demand that he be given time off from filming whenever the L.A. Lakers played a home game. Nicholson's obsession with the Lakers is famed, and when "Batman" filming moved from L.A. to England, Nicholson demanded that every Lakers game be taped and delivered to him as soon as possible.

William Frawley, who co-starred on "I Love Lucy" as Fred Mertz, was another actor who cherished sports above all. Frawley had a clause negotiated into his contract that allowed for him to be absent from production whenever the New York Yankees were in the World Series. Of the six years that "I Love Lucy" ran new episodes on television, the Yankees made it to the World Series in four of them. 

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand is just as accomplished in singing and dancing as she is in acting, and as a result she finds herself negotiating contracts with both film studios and performance venues, as well as the hotels and other PR-related entities that she needs to deal with in her line of work. But even the most iconic and glamorous of Hollywood and Broadway stars still need to use the bathroom now and then, so it's no surprise that the star of classic films like "Funny Girl" and "The Way We Were" requires that any she use be well-appointed.

Streisand, who is one of a very small number of performers who has won an EGOT (though her Tony Award was a non-competitive, honorary recognition of her body of work), demands that every private bathroom provided to her be outfitted with peach-colored toilet paper (to match her skin tone) and designer, peach-colored linens. She requests specific designer floor lamps in each bathroom as well, and actually demands that every toilet bowl she'll use throughout her time in any given location be filled with rose petals. Ah, the sweet smell of success.

Eddie Murphy

Comedian Eddie Murphy defined nearly two decades of humor in America. Murphy starred on "Saturday Night Live" from 1980 to 1984 and used the sketch show to launch his career in stand-up and, more importantly, films. Thanks to movies like "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Trading Places" (among many others) there was once a time when Eddie Murphy could have easily been named as one of the most famous people on the planet. 

Eddie Murphy's career has had its ups and downs in the past 20 years or so, mostly because almost no one in Hollywood will cast him anymore, but he still has a huge amount of clout in the filmmaking industry thanks to all of the incredible work he's done over the course of his career. It seems that Murphy uses his clout in unorthodox ways. Whenever Murphy is filming a movie, he demands that his trailer be filled with brand-new items. He requires fresh underwear and socks with the tags still on and unused toiletries including a brand-new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.

At the end of the day, Murphy disposes of everything he's used and expects a slate of pristine replacements the next morning. It's doubtful that he would accept a six pack of discounted Fruit of the Loom tighty whities or a generic-brand 99¢ toothrush, so not only is he contributing to landfills with this strange policy but he's also probably costing studios a fair few bucks.

Danny Trejo

There are a lot of actors who have been working in Hollywood for a long time but who haven't necessarily received the kind of widespread appreciation they deserve. Character actors, as they're usually called, are oftentimes the performers who are most beloved and respected by industry colleagues and cinephiles. 

Danny Trejo, for example, has been acting since 1985. While many younger movie fans might better recognize him as Carmen and Juni's tech-savvy uncle Isador from "Spy Kids," Trejo has spent most of his career working with directors like Quentin Tarantino and Michael Mann on the violent action films that older fans have come to know him for. 

It was long-rumored that Trejo had a clause in his contracts which stated that any time Trejo played a villain in a movie, his character had to die before the end credits rolled. Trejo did confirm this on X, formerly Twitter, in 2017, confirming that he made sure his bad-guy characters died so that kids would learn that crime doesn't pay.

Tom Cruise

One of the most bankable action stars alive today, Tom Cruise is particularly famous for performing most of his own movie stunts, which have gotten even more dangerous as his career has gone on. Cruise has nearly been killed multiple times attempting dangerous stunts for his movies, and believe it or not, it might have had something to do with his underwear.

Okay, so Cruise's real-life perilous moments might not have been directly related to his underwear, but he's very particular about what he wears under his wardrobe whenever he's performing a stunt on a film set. Cruise requires that the wardrobe department store around 50 custom-made G-string thongs made of stretchy, soft material. A source told the Daily Star that Cruise prefers this underwear for stunts because it allows him a great measure of "comfort and flexibility." 

In addition to his request for special underwear, Tom Cruise also stipulates in his contracts that his accurate likeness cannot be used in the production of action figures. This is why customers will rarely see an Ethan Hunt collectible for sale in the toy aisle. Cruise has also denied the use of his likeness in multiple video games based on his films.

Steve McQueen

It's not just the stars of today's Hollywood that have particular and tedious demands. When Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were both cast in "The Towering Inferno," their reputations were pretty different. Steve McQueen was a popular, well-known star, but Paul Newman was already a living legend thanks to his many award-winning films and performances. Both men were car guys and action stars, but only Newman also had the prestigious reputation of a dramatic actor. 

McQueen was obsessed with status, specifically his status in relation to other stars like Newman. At one point during production, McQueen counted all of the dialogue in the script for "The Towering Inferno" and demanded extra lines so that he and Newman would have the same amount, a move that Newman called "chicken sh**."

McQueen's biggest demand, as requested in his contract, was for top billing on the film's poster. This was a considerable problem for the studio because Newman expected top billing as well, and in a world where Steve McQueen didn't complain about it, would have had it by default. The studio decided to give both stars top billing through the power of graphic design: McQueen's name came first on the poster when reading left to right, but Newman's name (which appeared second from the left) was printed higher than McQueen's. If you looked at the poster from top to bottom, it was Newman who had top billing. 

Julia Roberts

Even though she has cultivated a reputation for being down-to-earth and relatable, Julia Roberts has one of the most luxurious and wasteful contract clauses on the list. Whether she's working in Hollywood or on location on the other side of the globe, Roberts must have four or more gallons of bottled Evian water every day when she's on a film set. The Evian water clause is found in all of her contracts, and if the production team fails to produce the water on any day she's shooting, the studio is slapped with a six-figure fine. 

Roberts allegedly doesn't drink the water, but rather washes her hair with it everyday. Some might consider that wasteful — including Roberts herself: supposedly she can go for several days without showering and a former bodyguard referred to her (via Daily Mail) as someone who "likes to save water, she's really green." It's difficult to believe that Julia Roberts is both eco-conscious and wasteful enough to wash her hair in bottled water, but she wouldn't be the only star who cleans their precious locks with mineral water. 

George Clooney/Will Smith

George Clooney is probably one of the last people alive who can call themselves a movie star in the old Hollywood sense of the word. Clooney is one of the most famous men in the world and that is in large part due to his impressive filmography. One of Clooney's most successful projects was Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," a film about two astronauts, played by Clooney and Sandra Bullock, attempting to find a way back to Earth after their shuttle is hit with debris. 

While Clooney's role in the movie isn't nearly as involved as Bullock's, his star power lent a lot of prestige to the project. So in his contract for the film, Clooney made some bold demands. He asked for a beach hut to be built right next to his trailer so he could kick back between scenes and made the studio build him a basketball court. 

Will Smith, another of Hollywood's biggest stars, made similar demands during the filming of "Men in Black III." Smith didn't ask for a beach hut, but he did demand an entire RV dedicated to his workout equipment and a two-story motor coach that was bigger and nicer than most of the apartments nearby. At one point Smith and the production actually had to move the trailer because residents of the Manhattan neighborhood complained that it was blocking their view.

Reese Witherspoon and Rue McClanahan

Avid fans of Reese Witherspoon probably can't wait to learn more about "Legally Blonde 3" — which is allegedly in pre-production — thanks to the special places "Legally Blonde" and "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde" hold in the hearts of many. The character of Elle Woods became a style icon thanks to the first movie, rocking everything from a color-coordinated teal and turquoise outfit to a powder pink satin one-piece with rabbit ears à la a Playboy bunny. 

It's no surprise, then, that for "Legally Blonde 2," Witherspoon contractually demanded she be allowed to keep Elle Woods' entire wardrobe after production wrapped. To this day, Witherspoon's closet is filled with pieces from the film, and she once told late-night host Graham Norton that she was contractually allowed to take all 77 pairs of Jimmy Choos used in the film. 

Similarly, when Rue McClanahan signed on to costar in "Golden Girls," she had her contract state that her wardrobe as Blanche Devereaux needed to be custom-made and that she would be allowed to keep all of it. When McClanahan passed away in 2010, her son made sure that many of her "Golden Girls" keepsakes — including wardrobe pieces — were put up for auction as she had requested, so that her fans could keep a part of their favorite show.

Roger Moore

Roger Moore was a cigar enthusiast long before he signed on to be the third official James Bond. Moore starred in seven consecutive Bond films — more than any other actor so far — and he was the first to introduce cigars as a part of Bond's onscreen image. A couple of Bonds later, Pierce Brosnan also adopted cigars as a part of his own portrayal of 007.

Moore demanded in his contract that he be given a nonstop supply of Montecristo cigars whenever he was filming a James Bond movie, which was an outrageous contract rider at the time. It would probably be outrageous today, too, given that a box of 20 now goes for around $280. Of course, Moore's proclivity for Montecristo cigars also meant that Bond had a proclivity for Montecristo cigars, and Moore can be seen smoking them throughout all seven films in which he starred.

James Bond never smokes a cigar in any of Ian Fleming's original books upon which the films are based, and Fleming actually tended to associate the smell of cigars with bad guys and cheap settings. Moore cared less about canonical accuracy, though, than he did about smoking his endless supply of Montecristo Especial No. 1 Cigars both on and off-screen.

Samuel L. Jackson

As of August 2023, Samuel L. Jackson's movies have collectively made the most money compared to any other American or Canadian actor's filmography. This is due in large part to his role as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but he also costarred in three "Star Wars" movies as Mace Windu, did the voice acting for Frozone in "The Incredibles" movies, has a longstanding partnership with filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and has a number of other blockbusters under his belt. 

Samuel L. Jackson is no stranger to editing a contract, and is probably considered a prime hire for any studio making a big-budget film, so he has a lot of leverage in negotiations. For example, he has a strict policy where he refuses to do a second take if he thinks they nailed the scene on the first try. However, this isn't the only unique clause he insists upon.

During filming, the studio is required to pay for and facilitate a break from the set to play golf at least twice a week regardless of whether he's on the call sheet. Jackson makes time for leisure even amidst the most stressful projects, and it speaks to his star power that he's able to demand that the studio pay for it. Jackson loves golf and has participated in the annual Ryder Cup Celebrity All-Star Match. so we suppose it makes sense that he'd want to get in some practice.