15 Highest Grossing Actors in Hollywood

While it’s no surprise that Blockbusters make a ton of money, have you ever wondered which actors have brought in the biggest bucks over the years?

While it’s no surprise that Hollywood Blockbusters make a ton of money, have you ever wondered which actors have brought in the biggest bucks over the years?

With numerous lucrative franchises between them, here are some of the biggest earners in history. Some of which may just surprise you!

Here are the 15 Highest Grossing Actors in Hollywood.

15 Anthony Daniels

Career Gross (In Millions): $3,083.2

Movies Made: 7

Biggest Hit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Believe it or not, the guy that played C-3PO  in the Star Wars movies is the 15th highest grossing actor of all time at the worldwide box office; despite barely anyone (Star Wars fans aside) knowing what he looks like.

His bankability factor purely comes from the Star Wars franchise. He’s the only actor to appear in all seven movies and they have, collectively, brought in over 3 BILLION dollars so far. Not included in this list, due to the roles being voice-only, Daniels also voiced C-3PO in both the Clone Wars movie and The Lego Movie, the latter bringing in close to $470 million dollars.

It’s perhaps surprising that he’s not branched out further, or moved into voice acting like fellow Star Wars alum Mark Hamill. If he were to voice a character in a Pixar movie for instance, he could easily become an even more recognizable voice, if not face. Given that he’s likely to appear in two more massive hits by the end of the decade, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be in the top ten before long.

14 Ian McKellen

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,150.4

Movies Made: 31

Biggest Hit: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

It’s perhaps no surprise to see Sir Ian McKellen on this list. With not just one, but two major franchises under his belt, he’s a well-known face on the big screen.

Either as the heroic Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings saga, or as the morally complicated Magneto in the X-Men series, Sir Ian has certainly has seen his share of big movies in recent years. Unlike the archetypical Hollywood movie star, Sir Ian McKellen is a classically trained Shakespearian actor and a veteran of the stage, more than the silver screen.

Prior to his breakout roles in X-Men in 2000, and The Lord of the Rings in 2001, few moviegoers would have been that familiar with him. However, his roles in Jack and Sarah and Apt Pupil in the 1990s are of particular note, and well worth a look if you haven’t seen them before now.

13 Stellan Skarsgard

Career Gross: $3,171.9

Movies Made: 42

Biggest Hit: The Avengers

Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard is another veteran of numerous high earning franchises, having starred as Erik Selvig in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Bootstrap Bill Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean.

A highly prolific actor, he has also appeared in movies as diverse as Deep Blue Sea, Good Will Hunting, and Momma Mia. Often taking the role of a deeply intense academic, he’s also frequently playing against type and frequently displays uncanny comic timing.

He is often associated with director Lars von Trier and has appeared in six of the Danish auteur's features: The Kingdom, Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Melancholia and Nymph()maniac.

Like some of the other entries on this list, Stellan Skarsgard has numerous big movies in various stages of development and could climb higher over the next few years. Expect to see him in at least two more Marvel movies, which could see another billion dollars attached to his lifetime gross.

12 Bruce Willis

Career Gross (In Millions): $3,189.4

Movies Made: 60

Biggest Hit: The Sixth Sense

Despite being best known for the role of John McClane in the Die Hard movies, Bruce Willis's biggest box office success came from The Sixth Sense, where he played a ghost who didn’t know he was dead until the final scenes. Now before you shout SPOILER ALERT, it’s probably the most famous twist ending of the last 20 years, so most people know it already.

A veteran of 60 movies, Bruce Willis is an instantly recognizable face. While he’s become more associated with his most famous role in recent years, having reprized John McClane in four sequels to the original Die Hard, he’s also appeared in movies like the critical and commercial success Pulp Fiction.

Often playing the wise-ass tough guy, his sombre roles in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable show a greater range. While he’s unlikely to pick up a Best Actor nod at the Oscars anytime soon, he’s a true icon of the silver screen.

11 Robin Williams

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,279.3

Movies Made: 49

Biggest Hit: Night at the Museum

The late, great, Robin Williams is a true legend of cinema. Like many others in this list, his lifetime gross is aided by smaller roles in franchises such as Night at The Museum, he’s most remembered as an actor’s actor who could play a variety of roles. First breaking out as a stand-up comedian, later a TV star, and finally a movie star, his 40-odd year career saw a variety rarely, if ever, seen.

His high energy acting in roles such as Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire brought him international attention. but it was roles such as Dr Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and John Keating in Dead Poets Society that showed his incredible talents as a serious actor. His role in Good Will Hunting brought him an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor.

Unlike many actors, Robin Williams is rarely associated with one role, or even one type of character. His lasting legacy is often that he was simply Robin Williams: actor.

10 Gary Oldman

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,279.3

Movies Made: 37

Biggest Hit: The Dark Knight

Easily one of the finest actors of his generation, Gary Oldman has often defied convention and taken unexpected turns in his career.

Starting out in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he quickly established himself as the finest English actor of his generation. He quickly garnered attention for roles in Sid and Nancy, and The Firm before moving to Hollywood. Once established in Hollywood, he became the go-to guy for playing the villain of numerous movies. His roles in Dracula, The Fifth Element, and Air Force One, showed a diverse range, despite often playing the antagonist.

As the 21st century came around, he became known for roles such as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series and Detective (and later Commissioner) James Gordon in The Dark Knight film series. His unique, often intense, acting style and his incredible diversity make him a popular choice for filmmakers and audiences.

9 Michael Caine

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,291.6

Movies Made: 115

Biggest Hit: The Dark Knight

The lovable cockney rogue that can play any Lord of the Manor. Michael Caine is a legend of the silver screen. Caine is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s (the other one being Jack Nicholson).

Following breakthrough roles in the ‘60s for roles in Zulu, The Ipcress Files, and Alfie, Caine continued working steadily on both sides of the Atlantic through the ‘70s and ‘80s. it was in the 1980s that Michael Caine began to produce his most critically acclaimed work. His role in Hannah and her Sisters earned him an Oscar. Often notorious for taking so-called "paycheck movies" such as the much-maligned Jaws: The Revenge, Caine has won audiences over time and time again with critical and commercial hits such as The Cider House Rules (which also won him an Oscar), and as Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight trilogy.

Despite now being in his 80s, Michael Caine is still producing some of his finest work, often appearing in director Christopher Nolan’s movies, such as Interstellar and the aforementioned Dark Knight trilogy.

8 Johnny Depp

Lifetime Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,291.6

Movies Made: 44

Biggest Hit: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Probably best known to modern audiences as the hilariously over-the-top Jack Sparrow in the massive box-office hits Pirates of the Caribbean and its sequels, Depp is also a veteran of numerous collaborations with director and friend Tim Burton.

Initially a breakout teen idol for his role in the 1980s 21 Jump Street TV series, Johnny Depp found massive success in the ‘90s as a star of the big screen. Roles in Edward Scissorhands and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape earned him a reputation as a talented young actor.

Numerous solid commercial and critical successes followed but it was his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean that sent his career into overdrive. Not only was it a massive hit, he also earned an Oscar nomination and suddenly began to command much higher salaries.

Recent years have seen disappointing box office returns for movies such as Transcendence and Mortdecai, but with another Pirates movie on its way, things are sure to improve.

7 Robert Downey, Jr.

Lifetime Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,539.3

Movies Made: 52

Biggest Hit: The Avengers

Another actor who makes the list largely due to his involvement with a major franchise, Robert Downey Jr. is a major box office draw. His portrayal of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, since 2008’s Iron Man has seen the once-troubled actor become a household name for all the right reasons.

One of the most gifted actors of his generation, garnering attention for roles such as Air America and Chaplin, Robert Downey Jr. became a massive star in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Personal issues caused a slowdown in his career, but over the last decade roles in movies such as the Marvel film series, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Tropic Thunder have seen him become one of the most loved and respected actors of his generation once again.

It's unclear how many more Marvel movies he will make, but with Captain America: Civil War and more Avengers movies on their way, expect him to be raking in the millions at the box office for some time yet.

6 Tom Cruise

Lifetime Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $3,587.2

Movies Made: 36

Biggest Hit: War of the Worlds

Possibly the last of his generation to be able to lay claim to the title of bonafide Movie Star. Over the last few decades, things have changed in Hollywood. Not long ago, people went to see a movie because they liked the lead actor, or actors, and trusted them to deliver a satisfying experience.

The age of the cinematic franchise is in full swing right now though and moviegoers are more inclined to see a sequel to a series they are familiar with than risk spending their money on an unfamiliar premise, no matter the star.

Tom Cruise is a throwback to a bygone age. Putting his name above a movie title in bold letters can still sell a lot of tickets. Sure, he has the Mission: Impossible franchise behind him, and despite having been going for 20 years, it’s still looking good. but he’s still making fresh non-franchise movies such as Edge of Tomorrow. Few other stars can get a movie like that made, fewer still can sell them to an audience. Tom Cruise, and his eternally ageless grin, can still pull in a crowd.

5 Eddie Murphy

Career Gross (In Millions): $3,810.4

Movies Made: 38

Biggest Hit: Shrek 2

Surprisingly, Eddie Murphy is the fifth highest grossing actor at the domestic box office. His career has had many ups and downs, but the longevity of his career and hits, such as the Shrek film series make him one seriously high earner.

Initially known for comedy roles, Murphy showed there was more to his talents with his breakout role as detective Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. The movie and its sequels were box office successes and Murphy had numerous other hits in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The mid-90s saw box office disappointments but he soon bounced back with hits such as The Nutty Professor and Doctor Doolittle.

His box office gross is helped massively by his role as the voice of Donkey in the Shrek film series. His back and forth banter with Mike Myers’s Shrek is often credited with making the series an enduring success.

4 Morgan Freeman

Lifetime Gross (In Millions): $4,316.2

Movies Made: 58

Biggest Hit: The Dark Knight

Like Sir Ian McKellen, Morgan Freeman’s big break on screen came a little later in life. Despite earning a solid reputation on stage, and later on The Electric Company, it wasn’t until 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy that the world truly saw the potential of this gifted actor.

Throughout the ‘90s, Morgan Freeman became a highly respected actor, often playing wise father figures. His roles in The Shawshank Redemption and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves made him a household name. As the decade drew to a close, he was often cast in leading roles.

His box office draw is considerable, and he is often the first choice for directors wanting someone to play a part with immense gravitas, having played both the President of the United States in Deep Impact, and God himself in Bruce Almighty.

It’s his role as Lucius Fox in the Dark Knight Trilogy that adds considerable sums to his impressive box office tally. He has also appeared in other recent box office successes such as his first voice role in The Lego Movie.

3 Tom Hanks

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $4,335.1

Movies Made: 43

Biggest Hit: Toy Story 3

Often considered his generation’s Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks is gifted at playing an everyman. Excellent with comic timing, evident in early roles in movies such as those in Turner and Hooch, Dragnet, and Big, Tom Hanks went on to deliver some of the finest serious performances of the 1990s with roles in Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan.

His gift to look into the middle distance and be haunting, or smirk and be reassuring, without saying a word is rare in Hollywood. In an era of massive, overstated performances, Hanks manages to deliver the definitive ‘everyman in extreme circumstances’ roles with incredible regularity.

His role as the voice of Woody in Toy Story and its sequels not only add to his already impressive box office tally, but ushered in the era of CGI dominance in animation. For all the magic of the computer animation geniuses at Pixar, much credit has to go to Hanks’ standout performances in the lead role.

Easily one of the finest actor of his, or any other, generation. Tom Hanks deserves his place near the top of this list. With many more roles ahead of him, he’s likely to be bringing in the bucks for many years to come.

2 Samuel L. Jackson

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $4,640.2

Movies Made: 68

Biggest Hit: The Avengers

After breaking out in 1991’s Jungle Fever, Samuel L. Jackson has gone on to gross over four and a half billion dollars at the box office. His roles in movies such as Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and The Hateful 8 have earned him a massive fan following from the Tarantino generation, as well as garnered him a great deal of critical acclaim.

Roles in Jurassic Park, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars prequel trilogy have added up and made him one of the most iconic and highest grossing actors working today. Not only has he appeared in supporting roles in larger franchise movies, he’s had large box office success in movies such as SWAT and Unbreakable.

With two more Marvel movies left on his contract, as well as being Tarantino’s go-to choice as an actor, Samuel L. Jackson is likely to keep adding to his lifetime gross for many years to come.

1 Harrison Ford

Career Gross (In Millions of Dollars): $4,792.0

Movies Made: 41

Biggest Hit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It will come as little surprise that Harrison Ford is very much back at the top of the box office thanks to his reprisal of the role that made him a superstar: Han Solo.

In a career that began in small roles in movies such as American Graffiti, it was as Han Solo, smuggler and scoundrel that brought Harrison Ford to the attention of many moviegoers around the world. His effortless charm, charisma and lopsided smile, along with a world-weary look in his eyes made him a mega star. Following on from Star Wars, he made movies to great critical acclaim such as Blade Runner and commercial, and critical, hits such as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Harrison Ford continued to be a huge box office draw. Franchise roles such as Jack Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, as well as blockbusters The Fugitive and Air Force One, kept him at the very top of his game.

In recent years he’s reprised both of his most iconic roles, firstly as Indiana Jones in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The latter of which is continuing to break box office records, both domestically and worldwide.


Any other huge actors who deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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15 Highest Grossing Actors in Hollywood