Although the coffee shops and bars may be staffed by thousands of actresses waiting for their ‘big break’, for those who make it big in Hollywood there's some serious money to be made. Once actresses have made a name for themselves and won over both the public and the critics, the promise of pay checks in the millions beckons as long as they keep picking the right roles.
As many on this list have demonstrated, critical acclaim and Academy Awards are highly beneficial to building a sustainable acting career. Awards draw the attention of not only the public - who want to see more of their favourite actresses - but crucially that of casting directors. By picking a wide variety of roles, actresses can demonstrate their versatility and ensure a long career.
However, high-profile parts in well-respected films are not enough to ensure high earnings. It's a sad fact that in Hollywood, the men are making more - so for many on this list, it is their involvement in franchises which really swells the pay-packet.
After a look at the eye-watering figures these women are being paid, many may cry foul that such extortionate amounts of money are doled out when other professions might be far more deserving: a Hollywood actress can easily earn a Nurse’s annual salary with one fashion campaign. However, these actresses drive ticket-sales at the box-office and film companies know that they can earn back their salaries several times over once the movie is released. While these 10 actresses are getting paid big, they're also making big money for Hollywood.
These are the top-10 highest-paid actresses in the world today, based on their most recent annual earnings.
10 Julia Roberts, $11million
This Pretty Woman’s eclectic mix of films has garnered her a reputation for critical and commercial success. Roberts' recent box-office successes (including Mirror, Mirror and August: Osage County) have earned her an impressive annual salary, each year increasing her estimated $140 million fortune. Roberts’ CV is not filled with shallow Hollywood cash-cows: Her most well-known role (as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman) led to her first Golden Globe and a nomination for an Academy award and she took home the Best Actress Oscar in 2001 for her hard-hitting role in Erin Brockovich. Julie Roberts continues to light up the silver screen with her dazzlingly wide smile, and this year she will feature in ‘The Normal Heart’ alongside Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer.
9 Mila Kunis, $11 million
8 Natalie Portman, $14 million
Like her Black Swan co-star Kunis, Portman has built a solid career from a young age. Known by some for her role as Padmé Amidala in 'Star Wars', and by others as Jane Foster in 'Thor', Portman has been involved in several highly successful franchises. Portman will soon make her directorial feature debut with an adaption of 'A Tale of Love and Darkness', after co-writing the script. Like Kunis, Portman can now match her age with the millions in her bank account - $32 million to be precise.
7 Sandra Bullock, $14 million
Recently acclaimed for carrying the Oscar-winning ‘Gravity’ through her powerful performance, Bullock has had a run of successful movies throughout her career. From ‘Miss Congeniality to ‘Speed’ she picked her roles well and now has a net worth of $135 million. She may have been unsuccessful this year at the Oscars, but in 2010 Bullock gained a golden statue for Best Actress for her role in ‘The Blind Side’. Classically beautiful, dramatically gifted and with impeccable comic timing, it's perhaps no wonder that Bullock continues winning Hollywood’s most competitive - and well-paid - lead roles.
6 Charlize Theron, $15 million
This South African actress rose to fame in the late 90s and has become a mainstay on our screens from then on. Theron is known to many as a stunning blonde, so her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in ‘Monster’ surprised many (she gained weight and shaved her eyebrows to transform her image). The gamble paid off, proving to everyone that she was more than a pretty face and making her the first South African to win the Academy Award for best Actress. Now approaching 40, Theron’s career shows no sign of slowing down; with two films due for release this year and another in 2015, her $85 million fortune looks set only to increase.
5 Emma Stone, $16 million
This 25 year old beauty now demands a hefty salary for her performances, following commercial success and a plethora of awards. After a selection of supporting roles, it was to be Stone’s bubbly portrayal of Olive Penderghast in 'Easy A' (her first leading role) which marked her out as one to watch among young Hollywood. Emma’s roles range from thought provoking (in 'The Help') to tongue in cheek (in 'Zombieland') and her impressive salary is now partially due to her role in 'The Amazing Spider Man' franchise, as Gwen Stacy; a role she is set to repeat later this year in the next instalment.
4 Jennifer Aniston, $20 million
She may still be known for her iconic role as Rachel in the hit series ‘Friends’ but this small-screen queen is now a key contributor to the film industry (as a director and producer, in addition to her continued acting credits). Aniston's work shows a preference for light comedy, as the foil to comedy greats such as Jim Carrey (in ‘Bruce Almighty’) and Vince Vaughn (in ‘The Break-Up’). With her undeniable likeability she is many director’s first choice to balance crude or silly humour in a film. Now worth $150 million Aniston is the richest of the women on this list, proving that there is money in being funny.
3 Kristen Stewart, $22 million
Alongside Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, Kristen is now the face of the multi-million dollar 'Twilight' franchise. Although she has been criticised for her wooden performances, this hasn't prevented her from raking in the big bucks. It was reported last year that a Middle-Eastern Prince was such a fan that he paid $500,000 to spend 15 minutes with her at Madison Square Garden (although the money was donated to the Hurricane Sandy relief fund). Now that the Twilight Saga has finished, Stewart has added modelling to her resume and this year will become the face of Chanel as well as continuing her relationship with Balenciaga.
2 Jennifer Lawrence, $26 million
Although she's only a couple of years over the legal drinking age, Lawrence is already one of most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. She has three Oscar nominations and one win under her belt and plays the lead role in the latest blockbuster franchise ‘The Hunger Games’. Famous in the media for her awkward interview style and quirky personality, Jennifer is not known to take herself too seriously. This is in spite of the hard-hitting themes she tackles in her performances, including mental health in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and poverty in ‘Winter’s Bone’. This year she will star in no less than four films, including the wildly successful 'X-Men' franchise as Mystique and the penultimate instalment of ‘The Hunger Games’.
1 Angelina Jolie, $33 million
Known for her seductive beauty and impressive acting skills, it is no wonder that Angelina demands such a hefty salary. Since becoming a mother Jolie’s roles have moved towards more family-friendly viewing (including her voice-work in ‘Kung-Fu Panda’), however her most recognisable roles (including Lara Croft) draw upon her undeniable sex appeal. In spite of her wildly successful Hollywood career and impressive net worth ($145 million) Jolie’s most significant work is in the field of humanitarianism for her involvement with the United Nations. Using her considerable fame and wealth to draw attention to global issues, Angelina has proved to Hollywood that the celebrity culture can be manipulated for good.