What does it take for a man to be considered one of the most powerful in Hollywood? Fame, money, influence and business acumen seems to be a winning recipe. Good looks and a killer smile seem to be but a bonus! Even personal scandal need not tip the scale in their demise – in fact, these stars prove that there is no such thing as bad publicity!
From singers to actors to sports personalities, these men seem to have it all figured out. Was it sheer luck? Were they simply in the right place at the right time? Or did they have a plan all along?
One thing that some of the greatest performing artists of our time seem to have in common is determination and authenticity. They speak and live their truth, and take risks to achieve their hearts desires. Here we take a look at 15 of Hollywood’s most powerful names, and what it took for them to earn their stripes.
15 Johnny Depp - $200 Million
Hollywood is a fickle place; one day you're so hot people need gloves to handle you, and the next day those same people won't even look at you. Having a successful acting career that spans more than three decades is no mean feat but Johnny Depp has managed to pull it off.
Known for his over the top character portrayals and incredible range, Depp remains one of Hollywood's most popular, and most powerful players. But that's not to say he hasn't had his share of controversy. Who can forget his messy breakup with Amber Heard in 2015, when she accused him of domestic abuse? And then there was the Glastonbury Festival when he caught the attention of the Secret Service with his comments about President Donald Trump. He said, "When was the last time an actor assassinated a President?" (in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln) but later apologized saying he was only making a joke.
14 LeBron James - $340 Million
Professional basketball player, LeBron James has become one of the greatest NBA players of all time. His sports career has earned him a reputation that has brands circling him like vultures waiting for endorsement opportunities. Apart from his multi-million dollar sports career, LeBron has signed endorsement contracts with the like of Nike, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, State Farm, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Beats by Dre and Samsung. He even has a signature Nike shoe which flew off the shelves and has raked in over $90 million in US sales.
James earned his claim to fame at the early age of twenty, when he played in his first NBA All-Star Game in 2004. Two years later he was named the NBA All Star Game Most Valuable Player and the rest is history! He also co-owns Springhill Entertainment, a production company. Brawn, brains, business acumen and more – this tall drink of water demands the respect of many in the sports industry.
13 Tom Hanks - $350 Million
Even though the award winning actor earns in excess of $10 million per film, he claims that he does it for the love of the art, not for the money, and if he was earning the same salary he earned in 1980, he would still be happy. We cannot argue his love for acting, with roles such as Forest Gump in 1994 which have fans quoting him 24 years later.
Hanks has landed himself 2 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards, 6 Primetime Emmy Awards and he received the Distinguished Public Service Award, the U. S. Navy's highest civilian honor, on Veterans Day 1999 for his work in the movie "Saving Private Ryan". These awards are only but a few of many. Sometimes, success is simply a result of pure passion, hard work and raw talent!
12 Keanu Reeves - $360 Million
Why is Keanu Reeves such a powerful figure in Hollywood? Well, apart from the fact that he's an incredibly versatile actor (and with a net worth of $350 million the 53-year-old has done more than okay for himself), he's seen as a down-to-earth public figure, and people can't get enough of that. With so many self-important performers out there, Keanu is a breath of fresh air; an A-list actor who still rides the subway and acts like a regular human being.
Perhaps the fact that Keanu has known real tragedy in his life has made him realize that the trappings of success are not all that important.
Keanu suffered through the passing of his best friend (River Phoenix), the loss of his daughter Ava, who was stillborn at 8 months, and the sudden loss of his girlfriend, all within the space of a decade. Knowing that he has managed to overcome and thrive, despite these setbacks, just makes him even more of a superstar in our eyes!
11 Dr. Dre - $380 Million
One cannot quote Dr. Dre without conjuring up images of bomber jackets and bling. Dr Dre is not only a seasoned artist, but a talented producer who has worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, Eminem and many more. He has played a pivotal role in the popularization of West Coast G Funk, a gangster rap genre known for slow, heavy beats.
In 1993 he received a Grammy Award for his solo Let Me Ride, and was considered one of America’s best-selling performing artists. In the same year Snoop Dogg’s album Doggystyle, produced by Death Row Records, hit quadruple platinum! He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics, and previously co-owned Death Row Records. Up to date he has won 6 Grammy awards, including Producer of the Year. Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All-Time” rank him at number 56. He has even been seen acting in a few recent movies. Any millennial worth their weight in gold likes the way he works it!
10 Jack Nicholson - $400 Million
Despite having a reputation for being one of Hollywood's "bad boys" Jack Nicholson seems to be able to play antiheroes without becoming one in real life.
Nicholson has a knack for bringing dark, even crazy characters to life and with 12 Academy Award nominations under his belt, so he must be doing something right. He is the most nominated male in the Academy's history and from these 12 nominations, he's enjoyed three wins including two for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.
Even though his Hollywood career has spanned six decades Jack has managed to avoid the type of controversy that might have tarnished his reputation. Apart from a small road rage incident back in 1994, where he attacked another man's car with a golf club after getting cut off in traffic, he's got a squeaky-clean record and we know that's not easy for someone who has spent so much time in the spotlight.
9 Tyler Perry - $400 Million
Director, producer, writer and actor Tyler Perry’s story is one of a broken childhood. He narrowly escaped an attempt at his own life, which was the result of his father's violence towards him. He went as far as changing his name from Emmitt to Tyler to distance himself from the man, which he later found out was not his biological father. He never completed high school, but does have his GED.
In his early 20’s, he heard about the therapeutic benefits of writing whilst watching an Oprah show. He decided to take pen to paper, and wrote letters to himself. These letters became the basis of his hit stage production I Know I’ve Been Changed. Forbes reported an income of over $100 million in ticket sales for this show. He invested money from the show to pursue his first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which grossed at $50.6 million! Tyler has been involved in the directing, writing and producing of 30 films, 20 Stage Productions and 8 TV Shows. He is living proof that great work is a result of determination and perseverance.
8 Mel Gibson - $425 Million
Passion of the Christ, We Were Soldiers and Braveheart star Mel Gibson, has but little to prove concerning his success. As a teenager, Gibson pursued his career in acting, but the 1980’s he was already known for his starring roles in Lethal Weapon and Mad Max. A few years after, he received an Academy Award for direction Braveheart.
However, he took a fall from grace after suffering abuse allegations in the 2000’s. He returned to the director’s chair when pursuing his next venture, Passion of the Christ in 2004. The controversial blockbuster made headlines and Gibson claimed that it was not he who was directing, but that the Holy Spirit was working through him. The recent Hacksaw Ridge saw him recover his reputation somewhat, but his controversial comments still haunt him. Love him or hate him, the award winning actor/director remains a household name in show business.
7 Elton John - $480 Million
Sir Elton Hercules John needs no introductions. The second wealthiest singer in the UK has sold more than 300 million records in his five decade career. His tribute single “candle in the wind”, dedicated to the late Princess Diana, is the best-selling single in the history of the US and UK singles charts and has sold more than 33 million copies worldwide. Apart from singing, he has also composed music, produced records and been seen acting in the occasional film.
The rock ‘n roll star ranks amongst the likes of Elvis and The Beatles, and is considered one of the most successful musical icons of the modern era. He rose to fame in the late seventies, a celebrated spectacle of style to compliment his overall performances. Apart from his accomplishments as a performer, he shaped the moods of the seventies, the majority of the modern world could karaoke at least one of his hits… the man is nothing short of a legend!
6 Tom Cruise - $550 Million
Dubbed Hollywood’s highest earning actor in 2012, Cruise earned his stripes by remaining in the spotlight for over 30 years. He has landed roles many actors would die for. He has also earned himself a reputation as a daredevil for his dicey stunts in the Mission Impossible series – which he insisted on performing himself.
He may be judged for his questionable theories and rocky personal life, but say what you will; Cruise has crafted a name noteworthy of mention in the history books. His has earned in excess of $100 Million for sixteen films in the US and has grossed over $200 for twenty three films worldwide. He was ranked as Hollywood’s most powerful actor in 2006, the same year Forbes ranked him as the world’s most powerful celebrity. The looks, the talent, and that cheeky grin… it has gotten him into trouble many a time, but overall Cruise has been winning at life!
5 Shah Rukh Khan - $600 million
Otherwise known as the King of Bollywood, The King of Romance, and King Khan, he ranks as the top earning Bollywood actor, earning in excess of $5 Million per movie. He has acted in 80 Bollywood films and has won 14 Filmfare Awards. His career began in the late 1980’s, appearing on TV shows. His Bollywood debut was made in 1992 for his role in Deewana.
This spicy hunk not only wins the love of many a lass on screen, but is also the co-chairman of the motion picture company Red Chillies Entertainment. Furthermore, he is the co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kolkate Knight Riders. If he didn’t already have enough panties dropping, he also won the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award from his leadership in championing women’s and children’s right in Indonesia. Looks, a brain and a heart of gold… what a dish!
4 Bono - $600 Million
As the lead singer of U2, Bono is easily one of the most recognizable (and likable) recording artists of all time. Having sold more than 150 million records across the globe he's estimated to be worth more than $590 million but it's what he has done with this fortune that truly sets him apart.
As widely as Bono is known for his music (and his trademark sunglasses; which he always wears as he suffers from glaucoma) he's also recognized for his incredible charity work. Since the early 1980's the U2 front man has been using his celebrity status (and earnings) to draw attention to the struggles of people in third-world countries.
It's little wonder then that Bono has been listed multiple times as one of the "100 Most Influential People" by Time Magazine and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. If only all celebrities could use their star power like this!
3 Jay Z - $810 Million
The American rapper and businessman did not come by his fame and power easily. Jay Z was raised in the drug infested Marcy Projects. Abandoned by his father, raised by a single mother, he definitely was not raised with a silver spoon in his mouth. Nevertheless, he has become one of the best-selling musicians of all time and has sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide.
Moreover, he has become somewhat of a business mogul, with his fingers dipped in many a pie. He is the proud owner of the 40/40 Club sports bar in New York, co-created the clothing line Rocawear, co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records and Roc Nation, is the former president of Def Jam Records and is a certified NBA and MLB sports agent. If that isn’t enough, he is wedded to one of Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the one and only Beyonce. Jointly, their net-worth is estimated at $1.16 billion!
2 P. Diddy - $820 Million
American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer and entrepreneur P.Diddy has earned himself a solid reputation as a modern mogul in the Hollywood arena. Prior to founding his own record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, he worked as a talent director at Uptown Records… where he was given the boot. He has since won three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards and is now producing MTV’s Making the Band. No Way Out, his debut album was certified 7 times platinum in 1997. In 2017 he was deemed the richest hip-hop artist in the US.
His record label has worked with Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil’Kim, TLC, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, SWV, Aretha Franklin and many others. His tribute to The Notorious BIG topped the Billboard Hot 100 at number one and remained there for eleven consecutive weeks, making it the first ever rap song to do so. Furthermore, the same album earned him five nominations at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The album went on to sell 7 million copies!
1 Paul McCartney - $1.28 Billion
What would Rock and Roll be without Sir James Paul McCartney?! The man is a legend, so much so that he has been knighted for his services to music (music thanks you, Sir Paul)! The English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer is one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. The popular Beatles hit “yesterday” is the most covered song in popular music history and more than 2200 artists have covered it.
McCartney started his career at the ripe age of 15, where he met John Lennon and his band, The Quarrymen, at a church Fete. He soon joined them as a guitarist. Three years later, he joined The Beatles who are now considered to be the most popular and influential group in the history of pop music! McCartney later fled the nest to pursue his solo career. He is now a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the proud recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, has written or co-written 32 number 1 Billboard hits and (because this is worth a second mention) – and has been knighted for his rock-stardom!