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Top 20 Highest Paid Film Actors

posted by William DeMassi

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Ah, movies – who doesn’t like them?  Action, comedy, romance – you name it, someone will surely pay to see it on the big screen, on their televisions, or mobile phones. While movie box office grosses are mainly what news outlets report, and movie critics discuss, have you ever wondered how much actors get paid for their stunning performances in their hit movies?

It is no mystery to anyone that being a Hollywood star – a big, A+ Hollywood star, that is – equates to being compensated handsomely. This article lists twenty of the highest paid acting gigs Hollywood actors have snitched in their careers!


20. Arnold Schwarzenegger

highest paid actors

The actor-turned-California-governor was given a hefty amount of $29,250,000+ for his amazing performance in the third (and just the third!) installment of the hit movie franchise Terminator.

The Terminator movies have been Schwarzenegger’s most iconic movie role, and it is not surprising that he got such a high pay for his work in the franchise.

Also, considering that Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines have grossed $433.4 million worldwide in 2003, Schwarzenegger’s pay ain’t really that surprising.


19. Mel Gibson

highest paid actors list

The Lethal Weapon movie franchise is loved by a lot of fans because of its breathtaking cop action and Mel Gibson. The said title produced four serial titles that have become total blockbusters, and it is not surprising that Gibson scored a career high salary with it.

Just like our #20 guy Schwarzenegger, Gibson was given a huge amount $30,000,000 for his work on the fourth movie of the Lethal Weapon series, Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998. Even with four movies, the franchise has retained its hold over their audience, still grossing $285.4 million on its fourth one. No wonder they can still afford Gibson even after over a decade of producing the series.


18. Brad Pitt

highest paid actors list

The ever-hot Brad Pitt has scored the same amount of coins as Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 4. Pitt starred in a remake of the 1960 film Ocean’s Eleven that premiered in 2001.

The movie has went on to become a favorite among the fans, as it was able to gross a staggering $650 million in the box office with only a budget of $85 million.

Pitt also starred alongside many other A+ and iconic actors, such as George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts. $30,000,000 is not such a huge deal after all.


17. Jim Carrey

best paid actors in hollywood

The comedy king has received a very high $35,000,000 as salary for his performance in the film Yes Man in 2008.

Unlike the preceding entries in this list, Yes Man is not part of an established and successful movie franchise – the movie only has a total budget of $70 million, and Carrey’s salary took half of it.

It was all worth it however – the movie grossed an amazing $223.2 million worldwide. The movie also garnered many accolades, and even cemented Carrey’s title as Hollywood’s comedy king.


16. Leonardo DiCaprio

highest paid actors list

The newly – and long overdue – Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio’s probably most iconic role compensated him with a very fat check (well, when we consider how the film grossed, it can be up for debate): $40,000,000.

Ever since its release in 1997, Titanic has undoubtedly secured its place in popular culture – it has been a subject of many internet memes, has defined a generation or romantics, and has represented a wave of filmmaking.

The film has also become one of the best-selling movies in the whole world by selling as much as $2.187 billion worldwide. Leo, as he is definitely one of the factors that made the movie a success and the icon that it is now (remember the ‘Paint me like one of your French girls’ scene?), should definitely have been paid more.


15. Tom Hanks

highest paid actors list

The Steven Spielberg-directed 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan has paid its main actor, Tom Hanks, a hefty and very well deserved $40,000,000 with a $70,000,000 dollar budget.

The movie and its producers were able to recover from the spendings they made to make the movie (and pay Tom Hanks) by grossing a staggering $481.8 million worldwide. The movie also garnered critical acclaim from many movie critic and normal movie goers. It also gave Tom Hanks nominations from all major award-giving bodies. The $40 million paid to Tom was definitely worth every penny.


14. Johnny Depp

highest paid actors list

The god of being a chameleon, Johnny Depp’s very colorful and eccentric role as Mad Hatter in the 2010 release of a classic children’s story Alice in Wonderland has earned him serious cash: $40,000,000, getting him in a three-way tie with the preceding two entries.

The film was produced with a $100 million budget and grossed $1.025 billion worldwide. The movie also gave a Depp a Kid’s Choice Award (something that is very interesting, considering how mature Depp is by that time). Well-deserved salary, if you ask me.


13. Robert Downey, Jr.

20 highest paid actors

Ironman aka Tony Stark, in all his money and sassiness, earned a cute $50 million check after doing the first Avengers movie in 2012.

One of the most recent entries in this list, Robert Downey, Jr. (RDJ) stood along with Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddleston to complete the well-received squad (and movie) of the Avengers.

With a $220 million budget to bring the project to fruition, the movie grossed a staggering $1.520 billion with the help of comic book nerds and hardcore fans.


12. Johnny Depp (for the second time, honey)

Yep, Johnny Depp makes a reappearance in this list: a testament to how Johnny’s artistic and acting services is wanted in Hollywood.

This time around, Depp stars in the fourth installment of the comedic and very well received ‘fantasy swashbuckler’ film Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides continues the adventures of fun and feisty pirates in their action-filled adventures in the dangerous seven seas.

Depp got a fat check of $55 million for his performance as the unstable and funny Jack Sparrow for the fourth time. This movie franchise has more or less defined Depp in the current popular culture (though, again, he is Hollywood’s chameleon god – he has play such diverse roles that there is no one that will define him as an artist and an actor) that this services price tag is actually justifiable.


11. Leonardo DiCaprio (Again!)

best paid actors list

And the second actor reappearance in this list goes to Leo! This time, however, he stars as the dream-chasing dude that operates in the subconscious realm.

Leo starred in Inception in 2010. A movie about a man that uses the power and promise of dreams, subconscious, and the unreal to get what they want and need from people of influence. The production was able to give him a staggering $59 million paycheck as it grossed $825 million worldwide.


10. Jack Nicholson

highest paid actors list

One of the earlier Batmans, Jack Nicholson was compensated a hefty $60,000,000 when he played as one in 1989.

The 1989 film Batman was the very first film in the series of Batman movies, and grossed $411.3 million dollars worldwide. Being the very first Batman movie ever to be premiered, the movie is an instant classic – something that would definitely justify the large pay Nicholson got as he plays the iconic Dark Knight.


9. Harrison Ford

best paid actors list

2008 marked the return of the ever-beloved cowboy hat-wearing and whip-yielding adventurer Indiana Jones in another exciting adventure.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released nineteen years after its predecessor premiered, thus building hype and excitement around its showing.

The movie did not disappoint, at all – it has grossed $786.6 million dollars, and was able to give Ford a whopping $65,000,000 paycheck. Impressive, for a piece that has been around for a really, really long time!


8. Sandra Bullock

highest paid actors list

One of the more recent entries in list (just this 2013!), this Alfonso Cuaron film gave Sandra Bullock a hefty $70,000,000+ paycheck that will surely last her for some time.

Gravity is a film that focuses on a astronaut – played by Bullock – that faces the worst case scenario in as she was in space and must find a way to go back to earth and not die. This truly emotionally powerful film, it grossed an amazing $723.2 million, and gave Bullock an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Sadly, Bullock is the only woman on the list (spoiler!), but it is a great sign that Hollywood is working towards being a place that treats men and women equally.


7. Tom Hanks (Yes, again)

“ Hanks’ iconic and memorable performance ”

For the second time, Tom Hanks appears on our list having snitched a really good deal for acting in a revolutionary, inspiring, and just all-around lovely film Forrest Gump.

The movie has went on to become Hanks’ more iconic and memorable performance, as it was able to give him best actor awards from the Academy and many other prestigious award giving bodies.

He also had a $70 million paycheck to go with all his accolades, so everything should be good for him – no more running  for you, Mr. Hanks.


6. Tom Cruise

20 highest paid film actors list

The one and only heartthrob Tom Cruise was able to charm more hearts as he played a cunning spy in the first Mission Impossible in 1996.

He was actually so charming that he was able to bag a $70 million paycheck for a single movie! The movie became a staple every time Cruise’s career as actor is being talked about, as it was able to score him a name in the action genre. The movie has grossed $457.7 million, and gave birth to a series of many, many sequels.


5. Bruce Willis

highest paid actors list

Bruce Willis stars in a supernatural horror-thriller The Sixth Sense that has went on to become one of the most known, iconic, and revered movie in the said genre.

With a budget of a mere $40 million, the film was able to gross $672.8 million worldwide. The movie has been nominated in many prestigious award giving bodies. With such movie (and sales), Willis was able to get a paycheck of a staggering $100,000,000!


4. Tom Cruise (for the second time)

“ Grossed a huge $546.3 million ”

After a much successful first Mission Impossible movie, the immediate sequel was nothing short of the success of its predecessor.

In this movie, however, gave Cruise a bigger, fatter, and definitely more impressive: $100,000,000! The movie grossed a huge $546.3 million all across the globe.


3. Tom Cruise (yes, for the third time)

highest paid actors list

But for another movie (finally!)! Cruise was paid another $100,000,000 for the 2005 movie War of the Worlds, a Steven Spielberg science-fiction disaster film.

The movie was not any more successful than the two movies Cruise movies in this list, as this movie only grossed $591.7 million across the world with a $132 million budget. But hey – at least Tom is getting his coins right.


2. Will Smith

top 20 highest paid actors

Will Smith got his $100,000,000 (just like Toms Hanks and Cruise) with the latest reiteration of his hit and very iconic movie series Men In Black.

The third one, Men In Black III(premiered 2012) was especially hyped as it was the Men In Black movie that came out after a very long hiatus of the franchise.

The movie has become a box office success by having $624 million sales all across the globe, as well as having generally positive reviews from the critics. Will Smith will never an alien incarnate with that salary.


1. Keanu Reeves

top paid actors list

The last, the best compensated role in recent Hollywood history goes to none other than the Matrix star, Keanu Reeves! Reeves was able to earn an impressive $156,000,000 from two movies released in 2003 (The Matrix Revolutions) and 2005 (The Matrix Reloaded) that has grossed over $1.5 billion across the world.

Aside from being such a commercial success the said movie series also became an iconic piece of art and has lead the neo-noir science fiction genre shine under the spotlight. Up until today, the influence of The Matrix movie franchise can be felt and seen in its fans and people who enjoy its aesthetics. For such money – would you enter the Matrix?

Is your favorite Hollywood celebrity included in this list?

It is undeniable that these actors have played very iconic roles in very iconic movies, and are definitely deserving of their earned salaries. The art of film is continuing to grow, and more and more movies with techniques and storylines will be made to change the game, to inspire audience, and to compensate many other celebrities that work their ass off to give you nothing but quality entertainment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William DeMassi (see all articles)

Born in Italy, raised in USA - knowledgeable in various topics. Out of all of my passions, writing is the biggest one and the one I dedicate most of my time to. Other interests include: movies, singing and dressing with elegance.

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