Actress Helen Hunt refused to take a movie job after giving birth to her first child in 2004 unless it came with a big pay cheque.

After starring in hit blockbuster Cast Away with Tom Hanks in 2000, Hunt slowly slipped out of the spotlight after falling pregnant with daughter Makena, now eight.

She has returned in new independent drama The Sessions - her first big project in 12 years, and Hunt, who is also a stepmother to partner Matthew Carnahan's 15-year-old son, admits she is now more selective and only considers films with a hefty salary or a really good script.

She tells People magazine, "I gave birth to a whole human being. I found being with her really rewarding. Now the part has to be better than it used to have to be, or the money has to be bigger; that's very rare."

And the actress insists she doesn't mind putting her career aside for her family: "I wasn't going to be at the top forever. Things are supposed to ebb and flow."