PTFeature_BiggestPaychecksInHollywood
Warner Bros. Pictures | Walt Disney Studios | Marvel | Sony Pictures Releasing

Biggest Paychecks In Hollywood

From Will Smith to Cameron Diaz, these Hollywood stars hold the record for highest earnings from a single production.
Author
Article Tags
Share
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
The Latest
Tonic Topics
Join the Convo on Facebook!

Hollywood stars certainly aren’t strangers to making some serious cash for their acting talents, but these are the actors with the highest earnings for a single production. Can you guess which star makes the list more than a handful of times? And who do you think tops the list with the biggest paycheck?

Denzel Washington – The Little Things

Denzel Washington smiling and looking dapper at a black tie event
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $40 million

Starring alongside Rami Malek and Jared Leto, Denzel Washington headlined this 2021 neo-noir crime thriller. Although The Little Things film didn’t rake in billions at the box office, Washington was paid handsomely for his role. He took home a $40 million payday.

Will Smith – King Richard

Will Smith in King Richard
Warner Bros. Pictures

Total Income Earned: $40 million

Will Smith recently took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father and coach of Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard. But that coveted award isn’t the only thing he took home. He also earned an estimated $40 million.

Johnny Depp – Alice in Wonderland

Johnny Depp
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $40 million

Actor Johnny Depp is a man of many faces, so it’s no surprise that Tim Burton tapped him to play the Mad Hatter. Although the film received mixed reviews, it still brought in more than $1 billion in ticket sales and became the second-highest-grossing film of 2010. It paid off for Depp, who walked away with a cool $40 million.

Tom Hanks – Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks red carpet
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $40 million

Captain John Miller was played by Hollywood A-lister Tom Hanks, who gave one of his best performances, in my opinion. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1998. The film is now considered one of the greatest war films of all time, and Hanks was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. For his role, Hanks earned a $40 million payday.

Leonardo DiCaprio – Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic
Paramount Pictures

Total Income Earned: $40 million

When Leonardo DiCaprio was cast to play Jack in Titanic, he wasn’t quite the mega Hollywood star he is today. His base salary for the film was reportedly $2.5 million, but he negotiated for a percentage of the gross income – a move that many actors make when they think a film is going to be a hit. When their movie is successful at the box office, they stand to make a lot more than if they had just accepted a large base salary. This proved true with Titanic, and DiCaprio earned around $40 million. That’s really good when you realize that number isn’t adjusted for inflation.

Robert Downey Jr. – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel/Walt Disney Studios

Total Income Earned: $40 million

The Avengers was the first Marvel movie to gross more than $1 billion at the box office, so clearly, the studio was eager to do it again. This time, Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide, adding up to a $40 million payday for Downey.

Robert Downey Jr. – Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War
Marvel/Walt Disney Studios

Total Income Earned: $40 million

In 2015, Iron Man appeared on the big screen again – this time, alongside Chris Evans as Captain America for 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The film was another commercial success for Marvel, adding to Downey’s earnings. He earned an estimated $40 million for this film.

Cameron Diaz – Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz on the red carpet in 2011
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $42 million

In 2011’s Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz plays a gold digger who returns to a teaching job she hates after her rich fiancé dumps her. Diaz herself didn’t have to do any actual gold-digging, though. For this production, the actress netted an estimated $42 million.

Robert Downey Jr. – The Avengers

marvel avengers tony stark
Square Enix

Total Income Earned: $50 million

Robert Downey Jr. makes our list again for a big payday. This time it’s for 2012’s The Avengers. Again, this movie was the first from Marvel to earn more than $1 billion at the box office, and Downey was certainly rewarded for his part. He took home $50 million in total for this project.

Jackie Chan – Rush Hour 3

Rush Hour 3
New Line Cinema

Total Income Earned: $53.7 million

Jackie Chan reprised his role as Chief Inspector Lee for the third film in the Rush Hour film series and ended up earning more than $53 million for his work. While his upfront paycheck was $15 million, the film’s success at the box office bumped up his total earnings.

Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Walt Disney Studios

Total Income Earned: $55 million

It’s wild to me that a ride at a theme park inspired an entire movie franchise, but it did. And for the fourth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, star Johnny Depp earned $55 million for reprising the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Leonardo DiCaprio – Inception

Leonardo DiCaprio
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $59 million

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the lead role of Dom Cobb was offered to Brad Pitt and Will Smith before Leonardo DiCaprio was contacted. I bet he’s glad they didn’t commit because he reportedly earned $59 million for the project.

Jack Nicholson – Batman

Jack Nicholson on the red carpet with sunglasses
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $60 million

At the time of its release, Batman was the fifth-highest-grossing movie of all time. Jack Nicholson may not have played the titular character, but he definitely got paid like the big Hollywood star he is. Playing the Joker, Nicholson brought home around $60 million. 

Harrison Ford – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Harrison Ford
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $65 million

Harrison Ford returned as the titular character for 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Despite mixed reviews from audiences, the film was a box office success, and Ford earned a $65 million paycheck from the production.

Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible
Paramount Pictures

Total Income Earned: $70 million

Tom Cruise has become synonymous with action films, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the Mission: Impossible series. He first played the role of Ethan Hunt back in 1996 with the first Mission: Impossible, and the film saw enough success to spawn an entire franchise that’s still going. This very first film earned Tom Cruise a total of $70 million.

Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump
Paramount Pictures

Total Income Earned: $70 million

Tom Hanks has been an in-demand actor for decades, so it’s no surprise that he netted a cool $70 million for his starring role in Forrest Gump. He also earned an Academy Award for Best Actor. It’s worth noting that the earnings listed here are not adjusted for inflation, which makes Tom Hanks’ paycheck from 1994’s Forrest Gump even more impressive.

Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Sandra Bullock crying in Gravity
Warner Bros. Pictures

Total Income Earned: $70 million

Actress Sandra Bullock starred as Dr. Ryan Stone in the science fiction thriller Gravity. The critically acclaimed and award-winning film earned more than $723 million worldwide. For all of that time trapped in her spacesuit, she ended up earning at least $70 million.

Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $75 million

Although Robert Downey Jr. has earned several big checks from Avengers films as part of the ensemble cast, he also nets plenty on his own in Iron Man films. For Iron Man 3, it’s estimated that the star netted at least $75 million.

Robert Downey Jr. – Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel/Walt Disney Studios

Total Income Earned: $75 million

Look, it’s Robert Downey Jr. again! We see him back as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. He was certainly rewarded for reprising the role, bringing in $75 million this time.

Robert Downey Jr. – Avengers: Endgame

Robert Downey Jr
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $75 million

Yep, here he is again. Avengers: Endgame came out in 2019 and ended up as one of the most expensive films ever made. Part of those expenses? Paying stars like Robert Downey Jr. an estimated $75 million. At least the film broke box office records and earned $2.798 billion worldwide.

Will Smith – Men in Black 3

men-in-black-tommy-lee-jones-will-smith
Sony Pictures Releasing

Total Income Earned: $100 million

As hit franchises continue, the paychecks keep getting bigger. With Men in Black 3, Will Smith picked up a significant pay increase to stay in the role of Agent J. His total income for the film was an estimated $100 million.

Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible 2

Tom Cruise
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $100 million

In 2000, Tom Cruise came back to star in a sequel to Mission: Impossible, but he didn’t do it without a significant pay increase. Mission: Impossible 2 became the highest-grossing film of 2000, bringing in over $546 million worldwide. All that success ensured Cruise brought home $100 million.

Tom Cruise – War of the Worlds

Tom Cruise
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $100 million

After working together for 2002’s Minority Report, Spielberg was eager to create another project to showcase his latest leading man’s talents, saying, “I love working with Tom Cruise.” He also called the actor an “intelligent, creative partner” who “brings such great ideas to the set.” The idea to do a film based on the 1898 H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds was actually Cruise’s! After all was said and done, the idea paid off to the tune of $100 million.

Bruce Willis – The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense
Buena Vista Pictures

Total Income Earned: $100 million

Talk about surprise endings! M. Night Shyamalan’s breakout feature really did it for audiences, and The Sixth Sense went on to become the second-highest-grossing film of 1999. It paid off for star Bruce Willis, who raked in a total of $100 million for the project. Most of this salary came from the film’s gross, as he was only paid $14 million upfront.

Keanu Reeves – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions

LOS ANGELES - MAY 15: Keanu Reeves arrives for the John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum' L.A. Special Screening on May 15, 2019 in Hollywood, CA
Shutterstock

Total Income Earned: $156 million

After the success of The Matrix, Keanu Reeves was back with The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Both of these were filmed at the same time, so I’m saying it counts as a single production. Reeves took home a total of $156 million.

Read More: We Don’t Deserve Keanu Reeves