With the right amount of good-looks, gravitas, and charisma, an actor can have a multi-decade movie career. People will first believe him as an impish youngster before graduating him to a smoldering leading-man, until finally relegating him to a movie’s wise elder. Consider Denzel Washington, 60 this year, who was in Carbon Copy in ’81, Training Day in 2001, and Safe House in 2012: impish, smoldering, and finally wise.
These 17 actors make so much money that they could finance an entire nation (well, their careers could.) They're as lucrative as the manufacturing and import/export industry. Interesting to ponder, because we don’t technically "need" movies (nor do we really "need" textiles, or at least not in as a bountiful amount as we have), but they’re such a cash crop that people keep making them.
If you’re excited, get ready to find out the 17 highest grossing actors in Hollywood, who have each made the industry literally billions of dollars throughout their careers.
Please note that we’ve only provided the domestic numbers, because each studio has different contracts with foreign markets, which might falsify the intensity of some numbers.
17 Robert DeNiro – Total Gross $2,927,000,000
16 Liam Neeson – Total Gross $2,941,000,000
At the age of 63, Liam Neeson is the 16th highest-grossing actor of all time. He has made 62 feature films, with each one grossing an average of $47,000,000. His most ‘expensive’ movie was Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace (1999), directed by George Lucas. It made $474,500,000. But Neeson also has his own, personal set of super-successful action flicks: the Taken franchise. This is where he uttered the eternal phrase: “ I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
15 Gary Oldman – Total Gross $3,030,000,000
14 Cameron Diaz - Total Gross $3,031,000,000
Cameron Diaz is known for her beauty, her character, and most of all, her astonishing set of legs. But she's also the 14th highest grossing actor in Hollywood. Who would've thought that among the ranks of Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Lawrence, it's Cameron Diaz would would bring in the most money? Her average gross is 89.2 million, and, unsurprisingly, her best-selling movie is Shrek 2. She has made $3,031,000,000 over only 34 movies (she's quite a bit younger than many people on this list), so like twice the GDP of Brunei.
13 Ian McKellen – Total Gross $3,150,000,000
12 Stellan Skarsgard – Total Gross $3,172,000,000
11 Bruce Willis – Total Gross $3,186,000,000
10 Michael Caine – Total Gross $3,262,000,000
9 Johnny Depp – Total Gross $3,271,000,000
8 Robin Williams - Total Gross $3,279,300,000
7 Robert Downey Jr. – Total Gross $3,539,000,000
6 Tom Cruise – Total Gross $3,585,000,000
5 Eddie Murphy – Total Gross $3,810,000,000
4 Harrison Ford – Total Gross $3,935,000,000
3 Tom Hanks – Total Gross $4,264,000,000
2 Morgan Freeman – Total Gross $4,315,000,000
1 Samuel L. Jackson – Total Gross $4,589,000,000
Samuel L. Jackson is almost 70 damn years old. At that, he’s still in fighting shape, appearing as the badass Nick Fury in The Avengers franchise. He has made 66 movies, garnering an average of $70 million. That must be because the top tier of movies he’s been in have grosses astronomical amounts of money: xXx, Star Wars, The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Die Hard, Jurassic Park, The Incredibles, Pulp Fiction. It’s like everything Sam Jackson becomes a cultural phenomenon. Although his taste only asks for Kangol hats, with all the money he makes from being such a consistent presence in the best of Hollywood, he could afford a 10-gallot hat of solid 10-carat gold.
Sources: BoxOfficeMojo, IMDb
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