In ”Boiler Room,” Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Tom Everett Scott, and Ben Affleck play cutthroat Gen-Xers who sell iffy stocks to make a quick buck. But the stars of the film say the lure of easy money isn’t confined to seedy brokerage firms. With Leonardo DiCaprio making $20 million for ”The Beach,” for example, taking the right role can mean fortune as well as fame. ”I’m not saying this is what I believe in or advocate, but you can get caught up in this world of ‘Oh my God, they just offered me $5 million to do this, I’ll f—ing suck that d—,”’ says Ribisi. ”Who doesn’t want to win the lottery?”
But these actors, who made sub-DiCaprio salaries for their work in the $8 million ”Boiler Room,” are also wary of major paydays. Scott says reaching the Leo level can limit an actor’s options to take smaller or edgier roles, while Diesel worries that the public’s growing knowledge of star salaries and budgets can also create negative buzz (note the current ”Beach” backlash). ”Salaries being promoted has affected everyone. You can go to somebody in Colorado and they’ll know what a film opened at,” Diesel says. ”The contemporary actor has to be so much more business savvy than he did 20 years ago. Now he has to make choices that will satisfy his artistic integrity as well as sustain whatever visibility he has.”
However, Ribisi does see something positive in the multimillion dollar payouts. ”There’s the concept that if I do this big budget project, then that will help me do the things I really want to do and bring more money to those films.” Yet this can mean big stars wandering through ill-fitting roles (Jim Carrey in ”The Cable Guy,” anyone?). ”The business has gone so far into the financial realm that people literally look at a list of how much money an actor will pull in, and that’s their final choice for a part, period,” says Ribisi. ”Not whether he’s a great actor or anything. It’s pure economics.” Well, they do call it show BUSINESS.