The 20 Highest-Paid Actors Of All Time And The Movies That Earned Them The Most

The show-business is one of the best growing industries around the world and there are lots of actors who’ve made their fortunes out of it. The highest-paid actors in the world have put in a lot of effort in their work, day-after-day on several movie projects to entertain people on big and small screens. As a result, most of Hollywood’s biggest names consistently earns a salary within the range of $20-30 million. However, they can possibly make bank by negotiating for a lucrative percentage of the film’s box office gross. Below is a list of highest-paid film actors for a single movie, though not all their salaries are made public.

20. Dwayne Johnson

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) – $23.5 million

Dwayne Johnson

Taking the number 20th spot on our list of highest-paid actors of all time is the famed wrestler turned actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He is one of the highest-grossing box office stars of all time, as his movies have made a worldwide gross of over $10.5 billion. He earned up to $23.5 million as an upfront salary for Jumanji: Next Level which became his highest paycheck, and additionally picked up $20 million for starring in the Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw in 2019, hence, the movie star emerged as the highest-paid actor of 2019 with a total income of $89.4 million.

19. Brad Pitt

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – $30 million

highest paid actors
Brad Pitt (image source)

American actor and film producer, Brad Pitt has established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading actors, with his sensational performances in mega-hit movies such as Troy, Mr & Mrs Smith, Ocean’s Eleven, World War Z and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. He is one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world, and as such, the actor consistently earns at least $20 million for the majority of his big-budget projects. Following his status in the movie industry, he received $10 million for his role in Sleepers and equally for Seven Years in Tibet. However, Brad Pitt’s Ocean’s Eleven payday is the biggest of his career, having bargained for a back-end profit deal which eventually earned him $30 million from the movie’s box office gross which is about $450 million.

18. Mel Gibson

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) – $30 million

Highest Paid actors
Mel Gibson (image source)

Widely recognized for his action hero roles, Mel Gibson is among one of the highest-paid actors of all time. He has equally achieved a successful career as a director, through which he has garnered a net worth of $425 million as of 2020. As early as in 1985, the Academy Award-winning actor picked up his first $1 million paycheck from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

Afterward, his largest payday came in 1998 when he earned an unbelievable $30 million for Lethal Weapon 4. Other of his notable salary paychecks include $25 million for We Were Soldiers, $20 million for Conspiracy Theory and $10 million for Lethal Weapon 3.

17. Jim Carrey

Yes Man (2008) – $30 million

Highest Paid Actors
Jim Carrey (image source)

Canadian-American actor, Jim Carrey is one of the highest-paid actors of all time, thanks to Yes Man payday. He received $30 million earning from the project, having opted for a percentage of the film’s backend gross rather than demanding a massive salary upfront. As a result, the talented writer and comedian made the Forbes Celebrity 100 list. Interestingly, he is the first actor in the history of Hollywood to receive a paycheck of $20 million for a single film. He accomplished this feat in 1996 when he starred in The Cable Guy.

16. Scarlett Johansson

Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $35 million

Highest paid actors
Scarlett Johansson (image source)

Immensely popular for her superhero roles in several commercially successful action films, Scarlett Johansson has been one of the highest-paid actresses in the world for more than a decade. She is the third grossing box office star of all time, as her films have made more than $14.3 billion worldwide. From June 2018 to June 2019, the multi-award-winning actress has earned $35 million and has remained the world’s highest-paid actress from 2018.

She has raked in millions for her appearance in the $2.8 billion grossing Avengers: Endgame, having earned about $35 million from an impressive backend payment. Similarly, she received a paycheck of $15 million for her role in the upcoming Black Widow film. As a result, the comely singer ended the year 2019 as the highest-paid actress with $56 million.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Twins (1988) – $35 million+

Highest Paid Actors
Arnold Schwarzenegger (image source)

Hollywood action film icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger has gained worldwide fame for his roles in numerous critically and commercially successful action movies. He had his first breakthrough in 1982 when he starred in the box office hit, Conan the Barbarian which has grossed over $300 million as of 2007 against its production budget of $20 million. He then moved on to feature in the Terminator franchise, Commando, Running Man and Twins.

According to the Austrian Oak, Twins payday is the largest of his career, as he cashed in $35-40 million alongside his co-star Danny Devito. The two negotiated with director Ivan Reitman a 40% cut of the film’s box office gross which is more than $215 million. He also pocketed a total paycheck of up to $45 million for his role in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

14. Aamir Khan

Dangal (2016) – $39 million

Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan (image source)

Popularly known actor, Aamir Khan has made a name for himself in the Indian cinema as he is regarded as one of the most influential Bollywood actors. Throughout his career that has lasted for more than thirty years, the film director has starred in multiple critical and successful Hindi films including the hit movie, Raja Hindustani which became the highest-grossing Indian film of 1996. With a net worth of $180 million, Aamir Khan has made incredible wealth from his acting gigs, having walked away with $40 million for his role in Dangal, which became his largest acting paycheck.

13. Cameron Diaz

Bad Teacher (2011) – $42 million

Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz (image source)

California born A-list actress, Cameron Diaz currently sits fifth in the list of the highest-grossing United States box office actresses, as her films have made a worldwide grossing of over $7 billion. She first gained international recognition for her role in the 1994 movie, The Mask. Since then, she has appeared in over forty movies and TV shows which has earned her hundreds of millions of dollars as salaries alone. In 2011, the award-winning actress made away with $42 million for her role in the Bad Teacher. She received an upfront salary of $1 million as she negotiated for a percentage of the film’s backend profit.

12. Leonardo DiCaprio

Inception (2010) – $50 million

Highest paid actors
Leonardo DiCaprio (image source)

One of Hollywood’s finest, Leonardo DiCaprio has constantly made the list of world’s highest-paid actors since the inception of his acting career. He has received critical acclaim for his roles in successful feature films like Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Inception, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

For his role in Titanic, he made combined earnings of $40 million which sterns from his $2.5 million salary and 1.8% cut of film’s box office gross. Similarly, in 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception payday became the largest of his career, as he took home a total of $50 million. He additionally earned $20 million for Catch Me If You Can, and $10 million for Charles Manson’s film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

11. Jack Nicholson

Batman (1989) – $60 million

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson (image source)

Having established a career that has spanned over 60 years, it’s not surprising that the veteran actor, Jack Nicholson made our list of the highest-paid actors of all time. Throughout his career, he has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and backend profits, as such, the Academy Award-winning actor sits on a net worth of $400 million.

He had one of his biggest paydays in 1975 for Cuckoo’s Nest which earned him $15 million as of then. However, Jack received his largest paycheck for his appearance as the Joker in 1989 Tim Burton’s Batman, as he earned $60 million from salary, film’s box office gross and merchandise sales.

10. Adam Sandler

Anger Management (2003) – $60 million

Adam Sandler

Best known for his comedic roles, American actor, film producer and comedian, Adam Sandler has been the highest-paid entertainer in the world at various points in his career. He has starred in several box office hit films including Big Daddy, Grown Ups, and its sequel, Grown Ups 2, The Longest Yard, The Wedding Singer, and the Hotel Transylvania franchise. Despite most of his movies being heavily criticized, the Hollywood Walk of Famer has starred in movies that have grossed over $2 billion at the box office.

He earned his highest paycheck in 2003, a total of $60 million for his role in Anger Management. He was paid a salary of $25 million and then bargained a deal of 25% of the film’s gross.

9. Harrison Ford

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (2008) – $65 million

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford (image source)

Indiana Jones star, Harrison Ford is widely recognized as an international film icon for his portrayal of heroic characters in movies such as Star Wars trilogy, Indiana Jones franchise, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger. Presently, three of his movies are rated among the top five box office hits of all time. In 2015, the film producer cashed in total earnings of $25 million for his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But prior to that, Harrison Ford had his biggest payday in 2008, when he was paid $65 million to reprise his role in Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. He has additionally earned a salary of $20 million for Air Force One, What Lies Beneath, and Six Days Seven Nights.

8. Johnny Depp

Alice in Wonderland (2010) – $68 million

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp (image source)

With a net worth of $200 million as of 2020, Johnny Depp has made bank from starring in numerous commercially successful movies. In some years, he has pocketed an annual salary of up to $100 million, and thus, becoming one of the highest-paid actors in the world, thanks to his critically acclaimed performance as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

He was paid $10 million for his appearance in the first Pirate film. He then earned a sum of $60 million from backend profits for the second and a combined $55 million for the third film. However, the Golden Globe Award-winning actor earned one of the largest paychecks for a single film – $68 million with Alice in Wonderland that grossed $1billion worldwide.

7. Sandra Bullock

Gravity (2013) – $70 million

Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock (image source)

Multi-award-winning actress, Sandra Bullock has gained a reputation in the movie industry for putting up sensational performances in her films. Thus, landing her the title of the highest-paid actress in the world in 2010 and equally in 2014. She has starred in blockbuster movies such as Miss Congeniality, The Proposal, Ocean’s Eight, Two Weeks Notice, and Gravity.

The latter earned her the highest payday of her career as she earned a $20 million upfront salary with an additional $50 million from negotiating first dollar percentage deal. This, got her entitled to 15% of the film’s gross, estimated at $700 million.

6. Tom Hanks

Forest Gump (1994) – $70 million

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks (image source)

Widely regarded as one of the most popular film stars in the world, Tom Hanks is the fifth highest-grossing actor in North America. His movies have made over $9.96 billion worldwide, with the filmmaker sitting on a net worth of $400 million. He began earning big paychecks as far back as 1988 when he was paid $1.75 million for Big.

Later in 1994, Hanks received his biggest paycheck ever – $70 million for his role in Forest Gump, which totally came from backend payment. He negotiated a cut of the film’s box office gross and thankfully, the movie earned $700 million worldwide. The Academy Award-winning actor additionally earned about $40 million for starring in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

 5. Robert Downey Jr.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $75 Million

Robert Downey Jr

Globally known as the face of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. has achieved an illustrious acting career, having made Forbes list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors from 2013 to 2015. He is the second highest-grossing box office star of all time, with his film making over $14.4 billion globally. The New York-born actor has played his comic book character, Tony Star in several mega-hit movies such as Iron Man trilogy, The Incredible Hulk, Avengers franchise, Spider Man: Homecoming and Black Widow.

He has earned over $190 million as salaries between June 2016 and June 2019, with his biggest paydays including the $75 million he earned each for his role in Iron Man 3, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. He was equally paid so much, about $50 million for starring in The Avengers and $40 million each for Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.

4. Will Smith

Men in Black 3 (2012) – $100 million

Will Smith
Will Smith (image source)

Nicknamed as the most powerful actor in Hollywood by Newsweek, Will Smith is an actor who has starred in numerous blockbuster movies. His films have earned over $7.5 billion at the box office worldwide. Despite starring in mega-hit movies such as Independence Day, Hancock, Pursuit of Happiness, I Am Legend and The Bad Boys trilogy, it was the last film in the Men in Black trilogy that handed the movie start his heaviest paycheck ever.

He earned an upfront salary of $20 million and having bargained for a $10% of the gross, he made a whopping sum of $80 million from backend deals. Smith further earned an upfront salary of $28 million for his role in I, Robot as well as $20 million and $35 million for his roles in Bright and its sequel, Bright 2 respectively.

3. Tom Cruise

War of The World (2005) – $100 million

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is one of the highest-paid actors in the world and also one of the highest-grossing box office stars of all time. Having played the memorable character of Ethan Hunt in the six movies of the Mission Impossible series, from 1996 to 2018, the action star has made an impressive fortune over the years. The MI franchise has grossed almost $3 billion from the box office, with Tom Cruise receiving a massive earning of $70 for the first, $75 each for the second, and third films, as well as Ghost Protocol.

However, the Golden Globe Award-winning actor sits third on our list of the highest-paid actors of all time for receiving a paycheck of $100 million from his collaboration with Steven Spielberg’s in the War of the Worlds. It’s not surprising that the film director has amassed a staggering net worth of $570 million as of 2020.

2. Bruce Willis

The Sixth Sense (1999) – $100 million

Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis (image source)

Actor and producer, Bruce Willis has always made the list of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, thanks to his earnings between the late 1980s and present, which sums up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Even though Keanu Reeves leads the list as the highest-paid actor, having earned $156 million from two films, Bruce Willis’ The Sixth Sense payday is technically the highest paycheck ever for a single movie in the history of Hollywood.

He was paid upfront salary of $14 million and later earned a total of $100 million following his negotiation of a backend deal. Similarly, the multi-talented actor has raked in not less than $52 million from starring in the Die Hard franchise.

See Also: Top 10 Richest Rappers In The World

1. Keanu Reeves

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) – $156 million

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves (image source)

Hollywood star, Keanu Reeves has endeared himself to many by putting up terrific performances in the box office hit movies – Matrix trilogy and John Wick franchise. He has starred in dozens of films that have grossed billions at the box office. As a result, the actor has pocketed a huge sum from his acting career.

Although he cashed in about $1-2 million for his role in the first film of John Wick and also $2-2.5 million in addition to an ownership stake, for the second film, Keanu Reeves became the highest-paid actor of all time for earning up to $156 in the last two films of the Matrix trilogy – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (2003).

Timothy Walbe
Timothy Walbe
Timothy Walbe has extensive professional writing experience in technical, product reviews, informational and persuasive articles as well as creative and content writing on nearly any topic including finance and investment


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