Part of the appeal of being an actor is the money. After all, most people dream about being able to do something they love while making millions. The public’s ongoing interest in the cars, homes and yachts that celebrities purchase isn’t going away any time soon, and that’s mainly because the average person can only dream about having such a large amount of disposable income. While there are some actors that say they take on certain projects simply because of the material, most people in the business rarely take on a movie or television show without being paid.
It is (logically) assumed that the most popular actors make the most money. This is true for the most part, but just because the public likes a particular actor or actress, doesn’t mean that Hollywood pays them according to their place in pop culture. It is also logically assumed that actors who are just starting out make way less than those who have been in the business for years. However, in today’s reality show-obsessed world, some “actors” are paid a pretty impressive salary as newcomers.
Some actors have been very wise with their money over the years, while others have squandered their fortunes and are trying to get back in the game. Here are 12 actor salaries that will likely surprise you.
12. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart is pretty much a pop icon when it comes to teens and tweens (and let’s face it, some adults) who are fans of the Twilight movie franchise. That’s why it’s kind of surprising that she only makes $20 million. She went on to star in the 2010 movie The Runways, but the film only earned a little over $4 million at the box office. Stewart also starred in the movie Snow White and The Huntsman, which didn’t do too bad in sales, but her affair with the director was more interesting to many people than the actual film. Kristen is also known for having had a “romance” with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. Strangely, the pair started having problems when the movie franchise was ending.
11. Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts is a native of Smyrna, Georgia, and has been in the acting business for over 20 years. She earns around $20 million, which is a shocker given her iconic status, and is still well-known for her roles in classic movies like Pretty Woman, and the thought-provoking biopic Erin Brockovich. She also starred in the romantic comedy Notting Hill, the box office hit Eat, Pray, Love, and was Hollywood’s “it” girl for quite some time. Roberts has been referred to as “America’s Sweetheart” and has long wowed directors with her warm and winning smile. Even though she hasn’t been seen in many films lately, there’s no doubt that she’d be a hit at the box office if she found a role she wanted to play. These days, she seems content playing the role of wife to her director husband Danny Moder, and mom to her three kids.
10. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon is the face most associated with the Legally Blonde movies. She even gave some young twin actresses the opportunity to act in the Legally Blonde franchise films that went straight to DVD. Reese is also known for her award-winning performance as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line. Witherspoon made her acting debut in the 1999 movie Cruel Intentions. She starred in the movie with Ryan Philippe, who would later become her husband. The two have a son and a daughter, have since divorced, and Reese has remarried and had another son. She most recently starred in the comedic action movie Hot Pursuit, with Sofia Vergara, and reportedly makes a salary of $28 million.
9. Jennifer Aniston
Aniston will always be everyone’s favorite “Friend” for her role as Rachel Green in the popular sitcom that lasted for ten years. She also reached pop icon status in the 1990s with her “Rachel” haircut. Women all over the world were getting their hair styled this way, and Aniston later admitted that she hated the look. Jennifer Aniston has also had a successful movie career, starring in films like Along Came Polly, Horrible Bosses and Cake. Aniston is also famous for once being married to Brad Pitt. The couple were together for five years before Pitt fell in love with Angelina Jolie. Jennifer is now married to fellow actor Justin Theroux. Her salary is around $28 million.
8. Sarah Jessica Parker
Parker is best known for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the hit HBO show, Sex & The City. However, she was an actor well before this role, and has also starred in movies since being Carrie Bradshaw, such as Failure to Launch and The Family Stone. Parker also reprised her role as Carrie in the Sex & The City movies. She makes a salary of around $30 million, and has expanded on her love for fashion by creating a shoe line that is available at Nordstrom. Sarah Jessica Parker is married to fellow actor Matthew Broderick, and the couple has three children.
7. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie makes around $30 million for acting, but it’s been reported that she’s planning on retiring. That’s probably because she finds fulfillment in being an activist and helping individuals in various parts of the world. She and her husband, actor Brad Pitt, have also moved to New Orleans in an attempt to restore the city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Jolie is the daughter of Jon Voight, a well-known actor. She has also starred in movies such as Gia and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, where she met Pitt. She also starred in the movie Salt, a role that was originally intended for Tom Cruise. Jolie has also made the news recently for having a double mastectomy due to her family history of cancer.
6. Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg comes from a large family of brothers and sisters, some of which are known in the entertainment industry. They include Donnie, who recently married actress and radio host Jenny McCarthy; and Paul Wahlberg, a trained chef. Mark Wahlberg is also pretty popular in Hollywood himself, and has a salary of around $32 million. The Boston native is known for his roles in Ted and Ted 2, as well as The Gambler, Lone Survivor and Pain & Gain. Mark also had a successful (although somewhat embarrassing) stint in music as part of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and he definitely turned heads in the 1990s when he was featured in a Calvin Klein underwear campaign.
5. Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan’s most recent role was in 2013, in The Great Gatsby, a remake of the classic film. Bachchan is the son of renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and moved to Bombay after finishing school to pursue an acting career. Bachchan was rejected many times in Bollywood, since directors were looking for someone with fairer skin. When the then-prime minister of India, Indira Ghandi, provided him with a letter of recommendation (Bachchan was friends with Ghandi’s son), his career “magically” started taking off. He starred in the film Zanjeer, with actress Jaya Bhaduri, who would later become his wife. Amitabh Bachchan makes around $33.5 million.
4. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise has been in the business for decades, and is almost as well known for his personal life as he is for his acting skills. Cruise wowed fans with his performances in the Mission Impossible movie franchise, and got critical acclaim in the 1990s movie Jerry Maguire. He makes around $40 million, and got even more attention when he jumped on the couch a few times during an interview with Oprah when he talked about how in love he was with actress Katie Holmes. Holmes and Cruise have since divorced, and rumors have been swirling that Tom Cruises’ religion (Scientology) is the main reason behind the split.
3. Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel brings home a salary of $47 million. He is famous for the Fast & Furious movie franchise. He was born Mark Sinclair in California, and has long been a favorite among action movie buffs and women who love guys with big muscles. He got into acting by accident when he was seven years old. Diesel and some of his friends broke into theater to vandalize it, but met a woman there who offered the boys $20 each and a script, provided that they attend rehearsal each day after school. This sparked his love for acting, and after three years as an English major at Hunter College, he decided to leave school and pursue his acting career.
2. Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan makes around $50 million as an actor and producer. He is known for being cheeky and heroic but lovable in his films and the Rush Hour movie franchise, which he starred in with Chris Tucker. The Hong Kong native is also known for sustaining serious injuries during his action films but pushing through to deliver quality work to his fans. He starred in a number of movies in Hong Kong when martial arts films were huge, and starred in movies like The Cannonball Run and Winners and Sinners in the 1980s, to become more well-known in the United States.
1. Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. has a salary of around $80 million. He most recently stared in The Avengers, and made headlines because he was making so much more than the movie’s main character, Chris Evans. Downey has had his share of mishaps, which included years of substance abuse, arrests and stints in rehab, but he’s back on top and is one of the most respected actors of his generation. He’s been acting for more than 40 years and likely gets his acting genes from his mother Elsie, who was an actress. Robert Downey, Jr. is also known for his work in movies such as The Singing Detective and Good Night, and Good Luck.