When people go to the movies, it’s often to escape the realities of everyday life. For a few hours, they can forget about what’s bothering them, and instead, immerse themselves into the world in which the characters are living.
While some movie characters may reside on another planet in the year 3045, others may lead relatively normal lives, with typical families and jobs. This year’s Academy Award nominees for best actor and actress play characters from different decades, backgrounds and lifestyles, but all had or have jobs that still exist in present-day America.
Here’s a look at the occupations of Oscar nominees’ characters and what they would earn today.
Best actor nominees:
Nominee: Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Character: Bradley Cooper plays former high-school teacher Pat, who was recently released from a psychiatric facility and is on a quest to get his wife back.
Pay: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high-school teachers earn a median annual pay of $53,230.
Nominee: Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Character: Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, as he battles with Congress to outlaw slavery.
Pay: Today, President Lincoln would be making $400,000 a year, plus an expense and travel account and an entertainment stipend, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com.
Nominee: Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Character: As Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman plays a former prisoner in 19th century France who transforms his life and becomes a factory owner and mayor.
Pay: If Jean Valjean were a mayor today, his pay would vary, depending on the size of the city he governed. According to eHow.com, the average pay for a city mayor is $62,000.
Nominee: Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Character: Joaquin Phoenix portrays Freddie Quell, an alcoholic World War II Navy veteran who is having trouble adjusting to post-war life. He gets help from the founder of a religious cult called The Cause.
Pay: In the Navy, pay is dependent upon rank and years of service, according to eHow.com. For instance, a boot camp graduate would be at E-1, or the lowest enlisted pay grade, making $1,447 a month. A Third Class Petty Officer, or E-4, with four years in service, earns a monthly income of $2,199.
Nominee: Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Character: Whip Whitaker, Denzel Washington’s character, is a pilot with a substance abuse problem who makes a daring landing during a plane crash. His hero status comes into question when it’s discovered he was under the influence while flying.
Pay: Median pay for pilots is $92,060 per year, according to the BLS.
Best actress nominees*:
Nominee: Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Character: Jessica Chastain is Maya, a CIA agent on a decade-long quest to find Osama bin Laden.
Pay: The website Criminal Justice Degrees guide says that CIA agents typically make $30,000 to $60,000 a year, although there are no public records for agents.
Nominee: Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Character: Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany, a widow who begins a relationship with a man recently released from a psychiatric facility. They go on to compete together in a dance competition.
Pay: While Tiffany doesn’t get paid to be a dancer, those who do dance for a living can make about $13.16 an hour, according to the BLS.
Nominee: Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Character: In Amour, Emmanuelle Riva is retired music teacher Anne, who suffers a stroke and is cared for by her husband Georges.
Pay: The BLS states that the median annual pay for music teachers is $36,340.
Nominee: Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Character: Maria Bennett (Watts) is a doctor who goes to Thailand with her family for Christmas vacation. While there, a devastating tsunami tears their family apart, and they go on a search to find each other.
Pay: The income for a physician is equal to or greater than $166,400 per year or $80.00 per hour, according to the BLS.
* This list does not include nominated child actress Quvenzhané Wallis from “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”