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Who are the World's Highest Paid Actors?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 23, 2024
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The highest paid actors can command as much as 20 million US dollars (USD) for one movie. With the advent of home video and DVD, an actor's earnings can be much higher than his or her initial fee.

The highest paid actors are not necessarily bound to the silver screen, either. Many television actors command huge fees for their work. Although Jennifer Aniston made her name on the hit television show Friends, she has successfully made the transition to film. Aniston is now regarded as a powerful figure in Hollywood, and she earned an estimated 18.5 million US dollars (USD) in 2005.

However, it is the big Hollywood film stars who are at the top of the list of highest paid actors. Tom Cruise has always had a bankable film career. Despite being ousted from his film company due to his personal life, Cruise still managed to rake in 31 million USD in 2005.

Johnny Depp was once regarded as an independent film favorite, but his films were never high earners. However, since his swashbuckling role in Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp has been raking in the big bucks. He managed to outearn the popular Cruise by bringing home 37 million USD in 2005.

Julia Roberts was one of the first women to break the 20 million USD a picture bracket. She has also managed to stay at the top in Hollywood despite the younger starlets snipping at her heels. Those younger highly paid actors include Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Garner, who brought in 13 and 14 million USD respectively in 2005.

The men in Hollywood have always been fighting at the top of the list of highest paid actors. Comedian Will Ferrell laughed all the way to the bank in 2005 when he pocketed 40 million USD. He was closely followed by I, Robot and Men in Black star Will Smith, who coined in around 35 million USD. The Spiderman franchise has been good to Tobey Macguire. At only 30 years old, his earnings for 2005 were in the 32 million USD bracket.

Ray Romano is now one of the world's highest paid actors. The Everybody Loves Raymond star earned 33 million USD for the final season of the show and is now due to make the jump to big screen roles. Romano's on-screen wife, Patricia Heaton, could only manage a paltry 9 million USD for the last season of Everybody Loves Raymond, but she looks set to rake in more money from the syndication of the show. A recently reported seven figure deal looks set to keep the cash flowing in.

For many of the highest paid actors, money does not equal credibility. Although they all earn high pay checks, most are not taken as seriously as a Robert DeNiro or an Al Pacino, at least not by the people who hand out Oscars. The businessmen and women who make a lot of money from these stars are not too worried by this, but high earning power does not always guarantee longevity in Hollywood – ask Macaulay Culkin.

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Discussion Comments
By anon103285 — On Aug 11, 2010

There would be no actors without writers. Most actors don't even have good personalities of their own until they play a personality in a film. Maybe that's why some actors are so good. They are like clean slates that absorb the character in the movie.

By anon103282 — On Aug 11, 2010

We're all unemployed. Boycott Hollywood.

By anon98364 — On Jul 22, 2010

yes it is true that tom cruise is the highest paid.

By lori43 — On Jun 15, 2010

I agree somerset, the actors are what really make the movie sell and should get their fair share. However, I also think that many superstar actors are overpaid. Look at actresses like Vince Vaughn or Julia Roberts – they play the same role in every movie. They really do have an easy job for which they get too much money, in my opinion. I think the people behind the scenes such as the writers should get a little more money. Writers really get very little for what they do, and no film is at all possible without them. Especially on a professional level, it takes an expert writer to not make the movie flop. Star Wars Episode 3, despite its solid commercial earnings, lost the respect of many of the series’ fan base because of its cringeworthy dialogue. The actors are essential, but so is the quality of the storytelling.

By somerset — On Feb 07, 2008

It always amazed me how some people are being paid such exorbitant amounts of money. On the other hand if a movie or TV show earns large amounts, the actors should get their fair share.

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