Each year, the list of highest paid actors garners attention from moviegoers and fans across the web – 2015 being no different. While many of the top earners from the past few years have managed to maintain their status as major forces in the industry, there have been more than a few changes, trends, and surprises worth talking about from the past year.
This list, as put together by Forbes, measures actors’ earnings before fees and taxes, pulling information from sources like Nielsen, Box Office Mojo, and IMDB, in addition to interviews with agents, managers, lawyers, and even the stars themselves.
Here are the 16 Highest Paid Actors of 2015.
15 (tie). Chris Hemsworth – $27 million
Hemsworth made a major splash in 2015. Starring roles in four big-budget films have added up, leaving him tied for the 15th spot our highest paid actors list.
Hemsworth made big money from the latest installment in the Marvel Avengers series, The Avengers: Age of Ultron – and all of the endorsements accompanied by a film of this magnitude – but he also collected paychecks for his roles in these other films: Blackhat, Vacation, and In the Heart of the Sea. While none of those final three were big hits at the box office (or with critics, for that matter), they displayed the 32 year old Australian native’s wide range of acting abilities like never before. With Hemsworth proving himself in small comedic roles, as well as big-budget action flicks, moviegoers should expect to see even more out of this rising star in the future.
15 (tie). Daniel Craig – $27 million
Being James Bond has its perks – about 27 million perks to be exact. Daniel Craig may not enjoy the pressures and commitments that come with taking on such an iconic role, but at least the gig pays well.
On top of the paycheck he received for filming the latest installment in the Bond saga, Spectre, Craig also made snagged a bonus providing voice work in the corresponding video game, as well with an endorsement deal with Heineken. In addition to this, Craig was also credited as a producer on the latest 007 adventure. It’s been widely rumored that the 47 year old’s run on the character has reached its conclusion, but after earning millions of dollars from the four films as well as the corresponding endorsement deals, we’d say Bond has earned an extended vacation.
13 (tie). Channing Tatum – $29 million
Tatum has been on the rise as a premier actor in Hollywood the past few years, thanks in no small part to his breakout comedic role in 21 Jump Street back in 2012, but this past year proved to be his most lucrative year to date. Playing major roles in three big budget films in the last year led to Tatum netting just south of $30 million.
Moviegoers may have seen the 35 year old in such 2015 films as Jupiter Ascending, Magic Mike XXL, or Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. In addition to his acting roles, Tatum also received a producing credit for the Magic Mike sequel. Much like the other top actors on our list, Tatum has displayed a noticeably heightened acting range as of late. As his abilities continue to mature and expand, he’ll most likely continue his ascent up the list of Hollywood’s major bread winners.
13 (tie). Leonardo DiCaprio – $29 million
Being one of the most popular movie stars in the world has its upsides. DiCaprio may have only starred in one feature-length film in 2015, but that didn’t stop him from hauling in roughly $29 million. DiCaprio has become such a large draw for moviegoing audiences everywhere that he commands a large paycheck wherever he goes, and the investment almost always seems to pay off for filmmakers.
2015 could end up being an extremely big year for DiCaprio, and for more than an impressive dollar figure. For months now, we’ve been hearing whispers that this may be the year that Leo finally manages to bring home his long-awaited, and well-deserved, first Oscar win. This year’s nomination — for his phenomenal work in The Revenant — is his sixth (his fifth as an actor). He has to win eventually, right?
12. Johnny Depp – $30 million
Much like DiCaprio, Johnny Depp is such a marketable movie star that merely starring in two films that released last year had little to no impact on his overall income. Depp popped up in the star-studded crime drama, Black Mass, as well as the critical/commerical bomb that was Mordecai in 2015. Even with a producing credit tacked on to the latter, 2015 wasn’t exactly the 52 year old’s busiest year, but he was nevertheless able to pull in an eight figure salary by year’s end.
This fact just goes to show that endorsement deals go a long way in padding the pocket books of actors with household names. In addition to the endorsements that Depp has amassed over the years, he also commands a large paycheck due to his ability to draw large crowds of moviegoing audiences with most of his major films. Name recognition goes a long way.
11. Dwayne Johnson – $31.5 million
Dwayne Johnson has come a long way since being merely known by his professional wrestling alter-ego, The Rock. While he hasn’t wrestled full-time for the WWE in years, he continues to rake in piles of nostalgia-addled cash from the company. The 43 year old earned sizable paychecks for lending his likeness to last year’s video game, WWE 2k16, as well as the television movie, WrestleMania.
Johnson has branched out in a major way from his role as a professional wrestler, and he’s become a full-fledged action star in recent years. In addition to a few guest appearances at various WWE events, Johnson starred in hit films like San Andreas and Furious 7, and he even produced and starred in his own HBO show, Ballers. One could make the argument that Dwayne Johnson is the biggest movie star in the world right now, and with his popularity continuing to grow, he could find himself moving up this list in the coming years.
10. Mark Wahlberg – $32 million
Along with his buddy Dwayne Johnson, Wahlberg also serves as a producer on the HBO show, Ballers. The Boston-native also produced the HBO movie Entourage. In addition to his producer’s credits, Mark Wahlberg made time to appear in four films over the last year: Ted 2, Entourage, Daddy’s Home, and Mojave.
Wahlberg has not only risen to become one of Hollywood’s premier, highest grossing actors, but has also staked his claim as a big wig producer, which combined to put the 44 year old over the $30 million mark. Over the years, Wahlberg has shown his range as a comedic actor as well as an action star. With his diverse skill set, Wahlberg will most likely continue being one of Hollywood’s highest grossing actors for years to come.
9. Akshay Kumar – $32.5 million
Akshay Kumar is one of three Bollywood actors to make the list of highest grossing actors from this past year. The majority of moviegoing audiences in America may not know his name, but Kumar has become one of the most recognizable stars in India over the past twenty years or so.
Before arriving on the Bollywood scene, Kumar was a martial artist and a model, but has not turned back since his big break in the early ’90s. Since his debut, Akshay Kumar has been an absolute workaholic, starring in several films each year, with over 100 acting roles to his credit over the course of his career thus far. The sheer volume of movies he puts out is a major reason for his eye-opening income.
7 (tie). Amitabh Bachchan – $33.5 million
The second Bollywood actor on the list of highest grossing actors goes by the name of Amitabh Bachchan. While Bachchan may be best known in the United States for playing Meyer Wolfsheim (opposite fellow super rich person Leonardo DiCaprio) in the 2013 film, The Great Gatsby, he is much more recognizable as a household name in India.
Bachchan is one of Bollywood’s premier actors, starring in films regularly since 1970. Bachchan is a bonafide movie star who continues to earn big bucks in India – $33.5 million to be exact. With his heavy inflow of work as a Bollywood actor, and perhaps more future gigs stateside, Bachchan looks primed to make millions more in the very near future.
7 (tie). Salman Khan – $33.5 million
The third and final Bollywood actor on this list proves that show business in India is nothing if not consistent. Khan has become known as the “bad boy” of Bollywood, but his reputation obviously has not hurt his wallet as he hauled in over 30 million dollars last year.
At the age of 50, Salman Khan may look to move into more mature roles in the future, as the majority of his work still comes in the actions genre. Still, with the appearance of a much younger man, Khan has a unique opportunity to wear multiple hats as an actor and become eligible for various types of roles, should he be open to them.
6. Tom Cruise – $40 million
Like a few other stars on this list, Tom Cruise not only took center stage in one of last summer’s biggest blockbusters, but he also produced it. Without question, his recent career resurgence has reestablished Cruise as one of the world’s biggest movie stars, and perhaps even one of the biggest stars in history.
Cruise consistently has found himself in the ranks of the highest grossing actors, despite releasing only one or two films a year. Cruise has enjoyed unprecedented longevity as an action star over the past few decades, and he doesn’t appear ready to slow down anytime soon. Even at the age of 53, he continues to play the role of the action hero, and with several highly anticipated sequels in the pipeline (Mission: Impossible 6, Top Gun 2, and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, just to name a few), we’d better buckle in for more high-octane thrill rides in the very near future.
5. Adam Sandler – $41 million
Despite being slammed for starring in lackluster films as of late, Adam Sandler is still attracting audiences and making big money. Along with a pair of theatrical releases in 2015 (Pixels and Hotel Transylvania 2), Sandler released his most recent film, The Ridiculous Six, on Netflix due to Happy Madison’s recent deal with the web-based streaming service.
In addition to Sandler’s acting roles, he has collected producer, soundtrack, and writing credits for his films in the past year alone. Critics and audiences can slam Sandler all they like, but he continues to draw big crowds and make millions as he remains one of the most marketable comedy stars working today.
4. Bradley Cooper – $41.5 million
Bradley Cooper may be remembered in 2015 mostly for his roles in theatrical releases Burnt and Joy, but this incredibly bankable Hollywood actor made a decent amount of cash producing (and even appearing in) the new network television series, Limitless, for CBS.
As fans may recall, Cooper starred in the Limitless film back in 2011, but he returned to the franchise in 2015 to lend his acting talents for the first few episodes, in addition to his work behind the camera. Like many actors on this list, Cooper has proven himself as both a comedic actor as well as an action star, and as popular as he is right now, a leading role in a big-budget franchise (such as Indiana Jones) could land him even higher on future installments of this list. It’s hard to imagine that an actor who made over $40 million last year has much more upward mobility, but that’s undoubtedly the case for Cooper.
3. Vin Diesel – $47 million
Vin Diesel may be known to the majority of the viewing public as a big-time action star, but this 48 year old is also a high earning film producer. He not only starred in his two full-length theatrical releases (The Last Witch Hunter and Furious 7) but he also produced them.
With this actor/producer expressing interest in directing films in the future, fans can expect an even more versatile Vin Diesel in the future – potentially poised to make even more money. With his name attached to several franchises with installments in active development (xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Fast 8 to name a few), he’s poised to make millions more in the future.
2. Jackie Chan – $50 million
Perhaps a surprise to many, Jackie Chan lands at number two on this list after raking in about $50 million in 2015. American moviegoers surely recognize the Chinese actor as an action-comedy star for his roles in Hollywood films like Rush Hour, but Chan’s reach is much more global than just the domestic box offices of North America.
In 2015, the 61 year old brought in his millions through endorsements as well as his acting and producing credits in the Chinese film, Dragon Blade. Chan has chops as both an action star as well as a comedic actor – again, like most actors on this list – making him poised for even more hit films in the future, both domestically and internationally.
1. Robert Downey Jr. – $80 million
In a not-so-shocking non-upset, Downey Jr. tops the list of highest paying actors for the third year in a row. At $80 million, the Avengers star absolutely crushes the competition. Downey Jr. made the majority of his money from the backend of the incredible box office performance of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hauled in over $1.4 billion worldwide.
Along with his big endorsement deal with HTC, the acting profession continues to be a lucrative one for RDJ, and with at least two films remaining on his deal with Marvel (Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers: Infinity War), the money train isn’t done yet.
Are there any names you expected to make the list of highest grossing actors? Do any of these names on this list surprise you? Make sure to let us know in the comments section below.
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