Call them chick flicks, call them ‘sappy romance’… Whatever name you give them, the classic romantic comedy is a favorite when it comes to genres in the film industry. They’re the ideal movies to watch on a date, by yourself, or with your friends. With comedic and quirky antics mixed with heart-rending romance that can make most girls – and some boys – shed a tear, the romantic comedy is the perfect formula for box office success. This is probably why “rom coms” have been churned out by Hollywood since the film industry began and why they just keep coming.
The romantic comedy has a rich history. Dating back to the days of Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson, female audiences have swooned over the sorts of movies that capitalized on sexual tension and handsome men who would sweep the leading lady off her feet. Many Oscar-winning actors have gotten their start in romantic comedies before eventually moving on into more hard-hitting films and taking on new types of roles. Some of the men on this top 10 list of richest romantic comedy love interests may not be so active in the rom com world anymore, but their light hearted comedies live on in the hearts – and on the screens – of fans worldwide.
Some of these leading men don’t, perhaps, follow the traditional mould of the handsome man, but that imperfection might be exactly what makes them so lovable. Whether you gag or swoon over romantic comedies, the men on this list have certainly stuffed their wallets with cheesy one-liners, on-screen transformations into perfect, committed men, and their abilities to make boyfriends everywhere look bad.
10. Bradley Cooper – $15 Million
From “He’s Just Not That Into You” to “New York, I Love You” and “Valentine’s Day”, Bradley Cooper has served his time in the romantic comedy world. His start in the industry involved small roles in shows like “Alias” and “Jack & Bobby” after getting his MFA in acting from The New School. As he soon began to gain more notice from Hollywood execs, he began to book bigger roles, bringing him into the rom com world and now into the world of critically acclaimed success. These days, with high-profile gigs like American Hustle, Cooper’s getting more recognition than ever with a few Oscar nominations under his belt.
9. John Cusack – $20 Million
Declared the king of romantic comedy, John Cusack has been in some of the most classic romantic comedies that have defined the genre. Starting in the eighties going well into the 21st century, Cusack has been the leading man in many romcom-favorites such as “Serendipity”, “Must Love Dogs”, “America’s Sweethearts”, and “Say Anything”. That last one will, for genre fans, immediately bring to mind the image of Cusack holding a boom box over his head blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.
8. Paul Rudd – $25 Million
When it comes to comedy and romance, Paul Rudd seems to be in almost every movie whether it’s a starring role or a supporting role. From “Clueless” to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to “This Is 40”, Rudd has certainly made his presence known in the romantic comedy sector. His next project will be a romantic comedy spoof called “They Came Together” when he’ll be teaming up with comedian Amy Poehler. With those boyish good looks and knack for comedic timing, it’s not surprise that he is one of the top earning leading men in romantic comedies.
7. Vince Vaughn – $35 Million
For so long Vince Vaughn had an association with comedy movies and being the tough guy who has a change of heart or learns something (and thus matures) at the end of the film. But recently, Vaughn has been making it big with romantic comedies and being the type of guy that is different from the stereotypical dark and handsome leading men. Perhaps Vaughn is even a more realistic person to be in a romantic comedy and he has become the guy that women love to fall in love with.
6. Patrick Dempsey – $35 Million
He’s charming, he’s handsome and his name is Patrick Dempsey. He’s the man that every woman wants to have to sweep them off their feet. He’s the kind of guy that women daydream about and secretly seethe with jealousy as the leading lady wins his heart. From “Valentine’s Day” to “Sweet Home Alabama” and a plethora of other romantic comedies, Patrick Dempsey is the ideal leading man. Not only is he handsome and has a smile to make many sigh and swoon, but he has that nice guy thing nailed. Dempsey’s presence in any rom com makes the film that much more marketable.
5. Ryan Gosling – $36 Million
Ryan Gosling has appeared in many different types of movies from action to thriller to romantic comedies. However, his work in the 2004 movie, “The Notebook” proved that he could be perfectly romantic; his adorable charm even inspired a meme series known as “Hey Girl” (Google it, it’s hilarious). Gosling portrays the hard-to-crack but essentially perfect man in movies such as “Crazy, Stupid Love” and “The Notebook” and even a slightly crazy man in love with a sex doll in “Lars and the Real Girl”. While he’s now primarily known now for his work in more serious roles, Gosling has more than enough proved that he can dabble in romantic comedy and sell it well.
4. Richard Gere – $45 Million
Richard Gere’s career in romantic comedies has transcended the generations. From “Pretty Woman” to “Runaway Bride”, Gere just has that look about him that makes him someone you want the leading lady to snag (which has been Julia Roberts on a few occasions). Whether he’s the guy who doesn’t think he needs to fall in love or the guy who just wants to be there for you, Gere’s timeless charm means he has continued working as a leading man in rom coms even after his hair turned grey.
3. Matthew McConaughey – $60 Million
This recent Oscar winner has quite the repertoire of romantic comedy movies from “Failure to Launch” to “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”. Some of these movies are better and some are certainly worse than other titles in his resume, but his presence in the rom com world is so strong that he has inspired a title for his type of romantic leading man known as “The Matthew McConaughey Leading Man”. Credit his smile, credit his charming good looks or that charming Southern accent of his, but whatever it is he’s just the kind of guy that can make hearts melt.
2. Hugh Grant – $67.5 Million
Hugh Grant was, for a long time, the muse of rom com king director Richard Curtis. This meant he starred in some of the most iconic romantic comedies of the 20th century, and made a name for himself as the quintessential leading man in classics like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love, Actually’.
The list of Grant’s movies that aren’t romantic comedies is actually fairly slim. But who can blame him? Audiences love him, from his earlier stammering, awkward type to his later characterisations of the smarmy but endearing, confident Brit. Perhaps he never wanted to rock the boat by working in another genre that could shatter his image? Nowadays, Grant is acting less, focusing more on investing in properties, but his formative work in the romantic comedy world will not be forgotten anytime soon.
1. Tom Hanks – $350 Million
With the astounding work that Tom Hanks has done in the last few years, it’s easy to forget that Hanks was a huge romantic comedy leading man in the eighties and nineties. From “Splash” to “Sleepless in Seattle” to “You’ve Got Mail”, Hanks isn’t your traditionally handsome leading man. But with his boyish charm, bumbling words, and adorable demeanor, he’s the wild card that women fell for. His air of sensitivity is something that enamoured him to many women, which is probably why the rom coms in which Hanks starred were so successful.