This article is going to depress you. The question that you might end up asking yourself is: “I also work hard, but what do these actors do to deserve this insane amount of money?”. The answer to that question is that it is the nature of business you are in. Actors make boatloads amount of money not because they work any harder than an average factory worker, but the difference is that they are the most important (read: most marketable) members of entertainment business. And as most important members of a business where Revenue/headcounts is very high, they end up making the most amount of money.
Before you become too sad, remember that for every Tom Cruise who makes billions, there are thousands of actors who don’t even have jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. Acting is a job where you go big or you go home.
Now, let’s pull our focus back to what this list is about. First thing first: this list is NOT about the fixed salary that actors receive for every film. Nowadays, most of the “big” actors work on a percentage basis, where they have a fixed salary but they also receive a percentage from the gross profits that the film made. So, for example, For ‘The Sixth Sense’, Bruce Willis lowered his fixed salary from $20 million to $14 million, but asked for 15% of the profits that the film made. Lo behold, ‘The Sixth Sense’ ended up making $672 million at the global box office, and Bruce Willis took home a total of $120 million as paycheck. Yes, one hundred and twenty million dollars! But there is one actor who made even more than him on a single film. Check out below:
14. Robert Downey, Jr., The Avengers – $50,000,000
13. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $55,000,000
12. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception – $59,000,000