The biggest question in Game of Thrones is who will sit on the Iron Throne when all the battles have been settled. We get to see some interesting characters among the common folk, but the heart of the show remain about ruling the seven kingdoms, and the conflict between the aristocratic families of the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens. But with so much royalty on the show, it’s only natural to think how much it pays in real life to play these kings and queens.
News on some of the highest paid actors on the show recently came to light, but it still leaves us to wonder which actor’s accumulated fortune is closest to their counterpart. So, using the Celebrity Net Worth website, we looked up how much each actor is worth not just on Game of Thrones, but for all of their combined work in their careers. Some big names from the show like Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) have not even made enough to rank on the list, while a few minor characters actually wound up being some of the wealthiest actors. These are the 15 Richest Actors on Game of Thrones.
15 EMILIA CLARKE (DAENERYS TARGARYEN) - $3 MILLION
Khaleesi at the bottom of the list? Yes, just like on the show, the mother of dragons isn’t the richest person in the land. It’s understandable, since Game of Thrones is Emilia Clarke’s first major role, so her acting career is still in its early stages. But like many of the newer actors on this list, the HBO series is looking to be a strong springboard for her for more work in the future. Though the movie itself was disappointing, she had one of the main roles in Terminator Genisys, and she’s doing more film work in-between her time gathering armies on Game of Thrones.
It’s unlikely Danaerys Targaryen meets her end before the end of the series, if at all, so Clarke still has a guaranteed paycheck for at least one more year. And it’s not like $3 million is anything to be ashamed of. That’s more than some other main characters from the show have to their name, and as we’ll see shortly, she’s in good company at that level of savings.
14 MICHELLE FAIRLEY (CATELYN STARK) - $3 MILLION
The Irish actress Michelle Fairley is one of several stars on this list who brought a background in theatre to her role on Game of Thrones. Fairley actually wasn’t even supposed to be in Game of Thrones initially, but the original pilot for the show wound up getting redone, and Jennifer Ehle, who was playing Catelyn Stark at the time, got recast with Fairley.
Michelle has caught similar lucky breaks for other roles throughout her career, including taking over the role of Hermione Granger’s mother in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow—Part 1. She has also procured recurring roles on both Suits and 24: Live Another Day after her time as the matriarch of the Stark household came to a close.
And though they’re not as prolific as some of the other actors on this list, the $3 million spot is actually where a lot of Game of Thrones actors sit. Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Ian Glen (Jorah Mormont), and Sibel Kekilli (Shae) also have $3 million to their names. The same goes for the next pair on this list…
13 SOPHIE TURNER (SANSA STARK) AND MAISIE WILLIAMS (ARYA STARK) - $3 MILLION EACH
Rounding out this part of the list focusing on the $3 million club are a couple more of Westeros’ most influential women. It’s no shame for either of these young women to be on the lower end of this list since their careers are still just beginning, with the both of them still under 21 years old. And yet, they’ve both secured some enviable roles outside the Stark family already.
Sophie Turner, the older of the two women by a year, just debuted as the new Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse. Though it’s up in the air what will happen with the X-Men franchise from here, the movie series has shown to have a good sense of continuity for their actors, so it’s likely Turner will be brought back in again if there are future films in the same timeline.
Meanwhile, Maisie Williams has had no difficulty making a splash outside of Game of Thrones in her own right. Doctor Who arguably has as dedicated a fan base as Game of Thrones, and Williams was fortunate enough to have a praised role on the series for several episodes. Both women undoubtedly have long careers ahead of them, and will be stars to watch once Game of Thrones finally wraps in the next year or so.
12 AIDAN GILLEN (PETYR “LITTLEFINGER” BAELISH) - $4 MILLION
Of course the one time master of coin for the Iron Throne had to be here. Petyr Baelish is known for being able to make gold appear when he needs it, and for always having something clever cooking up for his own advantage. Aidan Gillen doesn’t have his character’s manipulative nature, but he does have a penchant for landing in critically well-received work which makes him one of the more lucrative actors on Game of Thrones.
Before adopting the role of the conniving Littlefinger, many fans will no doubt recognize Gillen from his role as the politician Thomas Carcetti on one of TV’s greatest shows, The Wire. He’s branched out into movies in more recent years, but he gained his start as a stage actor, and has also earned awards for his parts in his native Ireland’s TV series such as Love/Hate and Charlie.
11 KIT HARRINGTON (JON SNOW) AND ROSE LESLIE (YGRITTE) - $4 MILLION EACH
This on screen couple has become famous lately for becoming a couple off screen as well. And while Ygritte was known for constantly telling Jon Snow he knows nothing, Kit Harrington clearly knows how to manage his money, since he and Rose Leslie have both accumulated similarly lucrative careers for themselves.
Fans of Jon Snow probably aren’t the only ones happy to see that he hasn’t permanently departed from Game of Thrones. It has not only resurrected a leader for the Night Watch, but also resurrected one of Harrington’s most lucrative roles that should keep him and Leslie happy for at least another year. But even if Harrington quickly rejoins his real life love interest on the list of killed off characters, both stars have secured big roles elsewhere. Harrington had parts in Silent Hill: Revelation and How to Train Your Dragon 2, while Leslie had a long running role on Downton Abbey.
10 DAVID BRADLEY (LORD WALDER FREY) - $5 MILLION
Bet you weren’t expecting Walder Frey to be up this high on the list, if on it at all, were you? Yes, the actor behind one of Westeros’ biggest bastards has made more than some of the royalty of the seven kingdoms like Cersei and Daenerys. But thinking about it, it makes sense. David Bradley is 74 years old, and has been getting cast in roles since the ‘70s. Many fans immediately recognized him as Filch from the Harry Potter films, but he’s appeared in plenty of other roles outside of his big fantasy parts.
Bradley’s role as Lord Frey is a rare appearance on the show, so you’re actually quite likely to find him on many other TV shows currently running. He was on this year’s Beowulf TV series, and is currently still on FX’s The Strain. And even though the majority of his recent work is on TV, he has no aversion to movies either, and even appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger.
9 CHARLES DANCE (TYWIN LANNISTER) - $5 MILLION
Going from one of the most hated characters on Game of Thrones to perhaps a runner up for that title at one time. Tywin Lannister is not what anyone would call a good father, but he was undoubtedly a cunning, powerful, and rich man. We can’t say for sure about the first two qualities, but Charles Dance certainly qualifies for the last trait. With a career stemming back to the ‘70s, he’s earned his pay across just about every medium that an actor can get into.
Charles Dance didn’t exactly need a boost to his career because the list of films to his name was extensive before he ever appeared in Westeros, but it’s probably no coincidence that some bigger projects came his away afterwards. Dance got a role in the Best Picture nominated The Theory of Everything, and was also a voice actor in the incredibly popular and successful RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
8 CARICE VAN HOUTEN (MELISANDRE) - $5 MILLION
Melisandre’s mysterious personality has slowly gotten more light shed on it as Game of Thrones has progressed (fitting for a priestess of R'hllor, the Lord of Light), and she’s been revealed as one of the most important characters in the series. But this actually wasn’t Carice van Houten’s first time in a medieval story, or even her first time being part of the same project as Sean Bean. In 2010, she got practice with both in the film Black Death, a precursor to the brutal nature of Game of Thrones.
Unlike the rest of the actors on this list, van Houten has a unique aspect to her career that has contributed to her worth, yet is unrelated to playing characters on screen. She is also a singer, and even released an album soon after Game of Thrones started. She even got to mix the two aspects of her career in the 2006 Dutch film Black Book, which she starred in as well as performed songs for.
7 NATALIE DORMER (MARGAERY TYRELL) - $6 MILLION
Margaery Tyrell quickly became known as one of the most powerful women on Game of Thrones when she arrived to marry Joffrey. Amidst physically imposing characters like the Viper or the Mountain, Margaery was a reminder of a different kind of power. She soon became the biggest political opponent for Cersei in the bid to become queen of the seven kingdoms. But off screen, it’s no contest between the actresses behind Margaery and Cersei.
While Lena Headey doesn’t even make the list of the show’s richest characters, Natalie Dormer ranks high above many of her other co-stars. It shouldn’t be surprising since she’s been regularly attached to some big projects over the last few years. Before Game of Thrones, she was a regular on The Tudors, and after making debut as part of the Tyrell family, she featured in the last two Hunger Games movies. Whether she winds up queen is still in the air, but Dormer will nonetheless finish the show as one of its wealthiest stars.
6 RICHARD MADDEN (ROBB STARK) - $6 MILLION
Robb Stark’s time on Game of Thrones was cut shorter than a lot of people would have liked, creating arguably a crueler twist than the death of his father as people had finally bought into Robb as the show’s heroic protagonist. Alas, the twist was the most hotly anticipated moment among book readers, so it would have been foolish to deviate from one of the most memorable moments thus far of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Fortunately, Richard Madden isn’t hurting for losing the popular role, and is in good company with his career worth. Madden doesn’t have as many acting credits to his name as many of his co-stars, but he’s also still young, just turning 30 this June. His theatre work earlier in his career had people speaking highly of his potential, and he looks to be capitalizing on it so far. After his abrupt departure from Game of Thrones, he had a major role in Disney’s live-action Cinderella, and he’s since returned to stage work to play Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. He just can’t stay away from tragic romances, can he?
5 NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU (JAIME LANNISTER) - $6 MILLION
Much like Jaime being born a Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau caught a break early in his career. His debut role in the United States was not in some small, unknown film like many actors are forced to take when starting out, but in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. Admittedly, it wasn’t a major part, but it was certainly a good way to kick off his recognition for American audiences. And it later landed him more work with Ridley Scott in 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven, something that gave him practice for acting in a medieval stories.
His work on Game of Thrones only heightened his career in America, as well as his native Europe. In 2013, he got to co-star in one of Guillermo del Toro’s pet projects, the film Mama. While in Europe, he got major roles in well-received films such as Headhunters and A Thousand Times Good Night. The man behind the Kingslayer absolutely looks like someone poised for some break out major film roles once his time on Game of Thrones has come to an end. Unfortunately, we doubt he’ll get to keep the golden hand.
4 JACK GLEESON (JOFFREY BARATHEON) - $8 MILLION
That’s right, not only is his on-screen counterpart Joffrey Baratheon richer than most of us could imagine, but the real life Jack Gleeson is also wealthier at just 24 than most of his co-stars. Luckily, Gleeson is far nicer than Joffrey, so it shouldn’t be a problem for the young actor to continue getting work as well.
Before he played one of TV’s most hated characters, Gleeson also had roles in the cinematic adaption of the novel A Shine of Rainbows, and keen eyes will also recognize him for his minor part in Batman Begins. Though many writers would probably be happy to have him for their own projects, as of right now Gleeson considers himself to be retired from acting and is looking into other pursuits. Work on screen will no doubt be there if he wants it, but as one of the richest actors on this list, it’s not as if he needs it.
3 PETER DINKLAGE (TYRION LANNISTER) - $10 MILLION
It’s no surprise to Game of Thrones fans that Peter Dinklage is one of the highest paid actors on the show. Some even consider him the show’s closest thing to a protagonist due to the amount of screen time he gets, and how popular he is.
It’s not only Tyrion’s ability to stay alive on season after season of Game of Thrones that is contributing to Dinklage’s high placement. Since starting on the HBO hit, he’s appeared in notable movies like Ice Age: Continental Drift, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and The Angry Birds Movie.
Even before becoming well-known as Tyrion Lannister, his size may have worked in his favor since there aren’t exactly a ton of talented shorter actors out there that people know of. Tyrion is known for saying a Lannister always pays his debts, and Dinklage should have no problem doing that.
2 SEAN BEAN (NED STARK) - $20 MILLION
Sean Bean only appeared in one season of Game of Thrones, so it’s not as if he made his fortune as Ned Stark. Even as the show was just starting, people recognized Bean as one of the biggest actors appearing in the series, and his name value no doubt helped encourage people to check out this new series.
Before he played the head of the Stark household, Sean Bean was known for his big roles in films like Goldeneye, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Troy. He’s also quite well-known for being killed off all the time, which was good preparation for anyone who might have been getting used to him in Game of Thrones. He’s moved on from being a Stark, but has had no trouble in continuing to find work in notable projects like The Martian that help keep him at the top of this list. Well, except for one other guy who technically has an acting credit on Game of Thrones, and a much higher worth than anyone else on this list…
1 GEORGE R. R. MARTIN -$65 MILLION
That’s right, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire is technically the highest paid actor from the show. But you don’t remember ever seeing George on the show, you say? Well, that’s because his role on the show never actually aired. In the original pilot for the show, George had a cameo as a merchant, but then the pilot wound up getting redone and George didn’t have time to take off from his writing to redo his role. So unfortunately, George’s character wound up getting scrapped, though he is still technically an actor since he acted in the original pilot.
Obviously, George has not made his money on acting work, though. He’s a writer, and has a long career of working on short stories, novels, and television screenplays. He keeps himself quite busy working on stories set in the Wild Cards universe, and the Dunk and Egg short stories that serve as a prequel to the Song of Ice and Fire series. He has many great stories, but the popularity of Game of Thrones skyrocketed the interest in Ice and Fire, and has even given him the opportunity to write a few episodes for the TV adaption. There are still at least two more books in the fantasy series to be released, and they’ll undoubtedly be hugely profitable due to fans who have been following the series for the last twenty years, or who just want to compare the books to the show.
There were some big names that didn’t even make the list, and some minor characters that are richer than some of Game of Thrones’ main characters. Which actor’s financial worth surprised you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments!