The Fast and the Furious franchise is a Hollywood cash cow, responsible for 6 hit films in the series so far and – predictably – a series of popular racing video games. The Universal Studios production is the production company’s biggest franchise of all time and, as of October 2013, it’s reported to have grossed $2.3 billion. The series began with the release of Fast and the Furious in 2001 and the latest movie in the series, Furious 6, was released this year. Furious 6 has so far grossed upwards of $780 million earning it the 43rd spot on the worldwide list of the all time highest-grossing movies in Hollywood.
The franchise hit headlines recently, though, for less happy reasons. On the 30th of November this year one of the series’ stars, Paul Walker, passed away in a road accident. Walker had been associated with the franchise for 14 years and several high-profile members of the cast and crew released statements on their love for the actor, stating they were of course deeply by the news of their co-star’s death. In a sad case of art imitating life – an ironic twist not missed by the media – Paul’s death in a speeding car reflect his role in the franchise that marked his career. The Fast and the Furious is, of course, a series revolving around illegal street racing.
An ostensibly niche action movie, the Fast and the Furious was a surprise hit for Universal Studios – and on that continues to earn huge money, even by Hollywood standards. We’ve taken a look at the top five highest earnering actors in the franchise, to see who made the series what it is today – and who’s making big money from what it’s become.
5. Tyrese Gibson – $3-5 million for a single movie
Tyrese Gibson entered the series in 2 Fast 2 Furious, playing Roman Pearce – a childhood friend of Brian O’Conner, played by Paul Walker. Brian recruits Tyrese’s character as his assistant, and a drastically interesting dynamic develops between the two men. Those Hollywood execs like to play their cards close to their chest so there’s still no confirmed report on what the actor/singer/rapper/MTV VJ/author earned for his part in the movies, but reports suggest a figure between $3 and $5 million for the latest release in the series. He has earned under a million dollars before his box office valued soared with the success of Transformers and the Fast Five. Tyrese Gibson is American-born multi-talented star. He was first recognized for his voice when he sang for an advertisement for Coca-Cola, in 1994 and he started his – now hugely successful – acting career in 2001.
4. Michelle Rodriguez – $5 million the Fast and the Furious 6
Michelle Rodriguez gives life to the character of Letty Ortiz, playing opposite Vin Diesel – with whom she’s been romantically linked Some reports label Michelle as one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, with a net worth of more than $34 million. The Fast and the Furious (2001) was breakthrough role for Rodriguez, though the game changer that led her to the franchise was arguably her leading role in female boxing movie, Girlfight, in 2000. She’s gained fame outside of the Fast franchise, taking lead roles in the 2003 thriller S.W.A.T and the 2002 horror movie Resident Evil. One of her biggest grossing movies has been James Cameron’s Avatar, released in 2009. Reports commonly cite Michelle’s fee as $5 million for the latest movie in the Fast and Furious series. The 35 year old actress is also a screenwriter and a disc jockey.
3. Paul Walker – $15 million for the Fast and the Furious 6
Paul Walker, known as Brian O’Conner in the franchise, plays an undercover cop. Walker’s fame grew along with the fame of the movie franchise. He was a vaguely recognizable face before 2001 but his major breakthrough in Hollywood was certainly the Fast and the Furious, the first movie in the series. In a franchise aimed at a more male demographic, Walker brought in a legion of female fans with his blue-eyed, boyish good looks. In news that shook Hollywood, Walker died tragically in a car accident on the 30th of November 2013. He died, in a bizarrely ironic twist, in a car accident – not as a driver, but as a passenger in a car that exploded after smashing into a pole and a tree. Paul Walker was due to reprise his role in the Fast and the Furious 7 so the movie has, of course, been delayed. Paul walker was just 40 when he died, at the height of his career. Walker earned just $1 million for the first two movies in the series, but as his popularity grew he claimed $7 million for his role in the third part of the series. It’s estimated that he was paid $15 million for the two most recent movies in the franchise series.
2. Vin Diesel – $15 million for a single movie
46 year old American Vin Diesel has worked in three movies from the Fast and Furious franchise – The Fast and The Furious in 2001, The Fast Five in 2011 and the Fast and the Furious 6 this year. He was offered a lead role in 2 Fast 2 Furious but turned it down, and made a cameo appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Vin Diesel has been on board as a producer of the series since the Fast Five, and his producer salary is unconfirmed, so we’re working on his reported fee which seems to include his fee for both acting and producing. In Fast Five, he earned an estimated $15 million. The actor started his career at just 7 years old but really started gaining traction in Hollywood after his acclaimed role in Saving Private Ryan. It’s estimated that the actor earned even more than $15 million for the Fast and Furious 6, and undoubtedly his profits as a producer would have been impressive given that the movie was one of the highest grossing in Hollywood on its release. Vin Diesel plays one of the ace racers in the movie, ex-convict Dominic Toretto.
1. Dwayne Johnson – $30 million + for Fast Five
Dwayne Johnson’s net worth is up there with Hollywood’ big earners, so he was in a strong bargaining position when the execs were deciding on his salary; he’s estimated to be worth upwards of $70 million at last count. Johnson joined the franchise during its fifth outing, playing Luke Hobbs – a muscular U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent. In Fast Five his unsurprisingly action-packed role sees him deployed by the diplomatic security service to capture Dominic, Brian and Mia who’ve been charged with the murder of D.E.A agents. Dwayne Johnson reportedly earned about $32.6 million from this single move alone, making him the highest earning actor of the series. Johnson, a wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment, is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood AND one of the top five highest paid wrestlers of the world. Known as ‘The Rock’, this guy has a wallet big enough to match his guns.
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