Forbes just released its much-anticipated list that reveals which male actors received the biggest paychecks in 2015. A few staples among Hollywood’s elite remain the top contenders, but several newcomers might surprise you. If you don’t recognize some of the names on the list, it’s because Forbes did something entirely different this year. They expanded their search to include foreign actors making top dollar in film industries around the world. Some of the highest-earning actors may not have appeared in any American films, but they’re making millions in India’s Bollywood.
For the third year in a row, one man has held on to the number one spot with an iron first (hint, hint). The actor in second place might surprise you because he’s been out of the spotlight for years, at least in the U.S. The actor in fifth place might also come as a shock, considering a few of his recent films were total flops.
You might also be interested to learn who made the bulk of their money from filmmaking and who supplemented their income with personal business endeavors and endorsements. A few people on this list have not only starred in big-screen blockbusters, they have produced them as well. Regardless of whether it’s a single-handed success or a multi-faceted effort, these stars are making heaps of money. According to Forbes, these are the top 10 highest paid male actors of 2015.
10. Mark Wahlberg – $32 million
Mark Wahlberg is taking the big screen by storm. Ted 2 will likely be his biggest source of income this year; the movie has grossed an estimated $168 million. It’s the sequel to Ted, a comedy that stars Wahlberg as the owner of a trash-talking, potty-mouthed teddy bear. The original film grossed a jaw-dropping $549 million, on a $50 million budget to boot. His production company, Closest to the Hole Productions, is responsible for some successful projects that surely supplement Wahlberg’s income. Wahlberg was the executive producer on HBO’s longstanding series “Entourage” and the recent film adaptation. His company also produces “Ballers,” another HBO series starring Dwayne Johnson.
9. Akshay Kumar – $32.5 million
Falling slightly behind his fellow countrymen, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar scores the ninth spot with an estimated $32.5-million salary in 2015. Kumar’s breakthrough performance occurred in 1992 with his role in Khiladi. In addition to appearing in four movies per year on average, Kumar is the host of Dare 2 Dance, one of India’s most popular reality TV shows. He has taken full advantage of his action-hero status, endorsing big-name products like Honda motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and Eveready batteries.
8. Salman Khan – $33.5 million
Another Bollywood celebrity that earned top dollar this year is Salman Khan. He is also a longstanding actor and TV show host. Khan became a household name in 1989, earning acclaim for his breakout role in Maine Pyar Kiya. Since then, he has appeared in 80 films. Khan is the host of a reality show called Big Boss, India’s version of Big Brother. Another big chunk of his income comes from endorsement deals with Suzuki and Thums Up, a popular soft drink company based in India. Khan’s career has been riddled with scandal. In 1998, he was convicted of killing an endangered gazelle while on a hunting trip and spent more than a week in jail. In May, Khan was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in a fatal hit-and-run car accident. The sentence has been suspended while Khan appeals the decision.
7. Amitabh Bachchan – $33.5 million
A surprising newcomer on this list is Amitabh Bachchan. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re not alone. Bachchan is a huge star in Bollywood, India’s booming film industry. When it comes to box office sales, Bollywood films bring in far less than American ones. However, Bollywood earns much of its revenue by selling satellite rights to TV channels. For every movie he’s in, Bachchan gets a cut of the ticketing revenue. That’s no small fortune: Bachchan has appeared in more than 150 movies during his 50-year career. He is also the host of the popular Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
6. Tom Cruise – $40 million
Tom Cruise has been a staple on the highest paid actor list for years. Considering he earned an estimated $40 million in 2012 for his role in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which grossed $694.7 million in ticket sales, it comes as no surprise that this year’s paycheck is just as hefty. Cruise received upfront fees for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, currently in theaters worldwide. He also received upfront fees for Edge of Tomorrow, which was released last year. To date, Cruise has won three Golden Globe Awards and received three Academy Awards nominations.
5. Adam Sandler – $41 million
Adam Sandler hasn’t starred in any major blockbusters recently. In fact, two of his most recent films, The Cobbler and Blended, were the lowest-grossing openings of his career. However, Sandler remains a favorite among fans that prefer to stay home and download movies. A few big projects account for Sandler’s $41 million salary this year. He recently signed a deal with Netflix, in which he agreed to make four films exclusively for the company. The deal eliminates high distribution costs and reaches Sandler’s target audience directly. Sandler also rakes in dough by demanding big bucks for roles in budget films like Pixels.
4. Bradley Cooper – $41.5 million
Cooper is not afraid to take risks and try his hand at many genres. Within the past year, he starred in the romantic comedy Aloha and the intense war drama American Sniper. Cooper actually produced the latter, working side-by-side with director Clint Eastwood. The film was nominated for five Oscars and won for Best Achievement in Sound Editing. Cooper has yet to win an Oscar himself, but he has received several nominations for his roles in American Sniper, American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper’s behind-the-scenes work as a producer has helped further an already lucrative career. His production company, 22 & Indiana Pictures, was formed in 2012 with partner Todd Phillips, who directed The Hangover.
3. Vin Diesel – $47 million
Thanks to his omnipresent role as Dominic Toretto in Universal’s Fast and Furious series, Vin Diesel has struck gold. He is reported to have received a staggering $47 million paycheck for his leading role in the latest high-octane adventure. Vin Diesel’s popularity and performance seem to be worth every penny. Furious 7 is currently the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time. It’s hard to believe that Diesel entered the world of acting by breaking into it — literally. When he was seven, he and his friends broke into a Greenwich Village cinema with the intention of vandalizing it. A woman caught them in the act and offered them $20 and a script if they promised to attend rehearsals everyday. From that day on, a star was born.
2. Jackie Chan – $50 million
Even though Jackie Chan hasn’t starred in an American live action film in five years, he has earned an estimated $50 million in the past year. Chan remains one of China’s most popular movie stars. That explains why Dragon Blade, a film starring Adrien Brody, John Cusack and Chan as the lead, grossed $120 million in China, despite never being released in the U.S. Chan’s role in Dragon Blade reportedly earned him more than $10 million. He also has a number of successful brand extensions, including a Segway dealership, a chain of cinemas and Chan-branded merchandise, to account for his income. A successful actor and an even shrewder investor, Chan has accumulated a net worth of approximately $350 million.
1. Robert Downey Jr. – $80 million
Robert Downey Jr. has earned the number one spot as the world’s highest paid actor in 2015. It is reported that he made a mind-blowing $80 million this past year alone. A big chunk of that money came from his role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which brought in an estimated $1.4 billion in box office sales. Downey was also reportedly paid $40 million for his upcoming role as Iron Man in another Marvel film, Captain America: Civil War. With the help of his agents, Downey made a pretty sweet deal with Marvel back in 2012. For any movies in which he played the role of Iron Man, Downey would receive profit participation, rumored to be 5 to 7 percent of box office grosses.
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