Some of history’s top-grossing actors ground out big returns slowly over the course of long careers. Others scored huge hits with recurring roles in franchises early on. Regardless, the actors that bring home the big bucks are all but guaranteed fame and fortune in return.
From Oscar-winning performers to blockbuster action stars, click through to learn about today’s highest-grossing actors at the domestic box office.box
Data is accurate as of December 31, 2018 and is subject to change.
50. Tyrese Gibson
With a lifetime gross of nearly $2.6 billion, Tyrese Gibson movies average more than $150 million at the domestic box office. Key roles in super successful franchises like “The Fast and the Furious” and “Transformers” have been good for Gibson, who simply goes by Tyrese when he’s serenading his music fans on stage.
49. Ewan McGregor
Although Ewan McGregor has appeared in at least four films that grossed less than $20,000, he’s also appeared in seven that pulled in nine figures, giving him a total box office haul of just under $3. billion. The three movies from the middle “Star Wars” trilogy were his No. 1, 2 and 3 biggest films — until he starred in the $504 million juggernaut “Beauty and the Beast” in 2017.
48. Simon Pegg
“Star Wars.” “Mission: Impossible.” “Star Trek.” Ice Age.” Simon Pegg’s resume reads like a film franchise all-star list — which is why his movies have grossed $3.2 billion in the U.S.
47. Jonah Hill
Jonah Hill played key roles in raunchy comedy masterpieces like “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” It’s his voice, however, that brings home the bacon — “The LEGO Movie” and “How to Train Your Dragon” are the two biggest breadwinners of this actor’s more than $3.32 billion total haul.
46. Daniel Radcliffe
His name is Daniel Radcliffe, but if you bumped into him at the mall, you’d tell everyone you just saw Harry Potter. His lead role in the eight-film mega-franchise represents nearly half his resume, all of his nine-figure movies (when you don’t count a cameo in “Trainwreck”) and the lion’s share of the more than $3.45 billion his movies have earned in total. The franchise’s success has obviously impacted the actor’s personal wealth — but is Radcliffe the richest Harry Potter cast member?
45. Jeremy Renner
Although Jeremy Renner has earned critical acclaim for roles in “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town,” franchise films are his bread and butter. Most of Renner’s $3.84 billion domestic gross comes from parts in series like “Avengers,” “Captain America” and “Mission: Impossible.”
44. Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana had a starring role in “Avatar,” the biggest movie of all time. That, along with roles in the “Star Trek” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” mega-franchises, helped her nearly 30-strong film resume gross almost $4.5 billion.
43. Adam Sandler
Forbes declared Adam Sandler to be the most overpaid actor in Hollywood multiple times. Still, his movies have grossed $3.87 billion, which is quite a feat considering none breached the $170 million mark.
42. Tommy Lee Jones
From critical darlings like “JFK” and “Lincoln” to action hits like “The Fugitive” and “Men in Black,” Tommy Lee Jones has struck Hollywood gold multiple times. And his nearly four dozen movies have earned an average of $58.55 million each, for a total of $4.6 billion.
41. Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt has spent more than a quarter century putting in stellar performances in movies like “Seven,” “Fight Club” and “Snatch,” and getting equally stellar box office returns from blockbusters like “World War Z,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” His efforts have earned him a $4.14 billion resume, which includes more than 40 movies that average nearly $65 million each.
40. Owen Wilson
Owen Wilson sneaks into the top 40 with a box office total of $3.75 billion. After more than two decades in the business, his 40-plus films boast average showings of $67.62 million.
39. Dwayne Johnson
The man known as The Rock averages nine figures per film — nearly $126 million each, which isn’t bad for a crossover actor who’s a wrestler by trade. Thanks to the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, as well as blockbusters like “Moana” and “San Andreas,” Dwayne Johnson’s movies have earned $3.93 billion.
38. Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks movies have earned more than $3.4 billion — which is pretty impressive when you consider those totals exclude her roles in the first three “Spider-Man” films, which would have been her No. 3, 4 and 6 biggest earners. Thanks to “The Hunger Games” franchise and several other blockbusters, however, her films score an average of $76.5 million.
37. Vin Diesel
Other than “Saving Private Ryan,” all of Vin Diesel’s 10 biggest movies are from the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “XXX” and “Fast and the Furious” franchises. In total, the action star’s movies have grossed more than $4.1 billion.
36. Helena Bonham Carter
Thanks to big parts alongside Johnny Depp in “Alice in Wonderland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and, of course, her role in the “Harry Potter” franchise, Helena Bonham Carter’s movies have earned $3.68 billion. Her three dozen films made an average of $78 million each.
35. Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller shined with “Reality Bites” and “There’s Something About Mary” in the 1990s, and the “Meet the Parents,” “Night at the Museum” and “Madagascar” franchises in the 2000s and 2010s. In all, the funnyman’s films have pulled in $3.91 billion.
34. Mark Wahlberg
Two-time Academy Award nominee and one-time teen pop idol Mark Wahlberg made audiences laugh in “Ted,” made them cry in “The Perfect Storm” and made the Academy Awards take notice with “The Fighter” and “The Departed” — but one thing he always seems to make is money. The “Transformers” star boasts 40 movies that have earned a combined $3.8 billion.
33. Julia Roberts
Although “Pretty Woman” is the No. 4 highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, the blockbuster Julia Roberts movie was released at least a decade before all three movies ahead of it. In total, her movies have earned a whopping $4.8 billion.
32. Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle’s most critically acclaimed works — including “Hotel Rwanda,” “Boogie Nights” and “Crash” — earned low- to mid-eight-figure box office receipts. But his movies have brought in $5.17 billion in total.
If you’re wondering how that’s possible, note that Cheadle starred in three movies that pulled in more than $400 million each — “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” — between the years 2015 and 2019.
31. Ralph Fiennes
Four of the top five Ralph Fiennes movies are from the “Harry Potter” franchise — but Fiennes is no one-trick pony. Part of the reason that his movies have grossed $3.7 billion is that his top 10 list also includes two “James Bond” films and “Schindler’s List.”
30. Idris Elba
Idris Elba movies have earned $3.85 billion. As it stands, his biggest movie is the $459 million “Avengers: Infinity War,” though “The Jungle Book (2016)” and “Zootopia” are no slouches, either.
29. Bradley Cooper
A quirky breakout role in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers” launched Bradley Cooper into a decade-plus run that included critical and commercial smashes like “The Hangover” movies, “American Sniper,” “American Hustle” and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. In all, his movies have brought home nearly $5.2 billion, with an impressive average of more than $160 million per film. No wonder his net worth is sky-high these days.
28. Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson’s more than five dozen movies have hauled in roughly $4.4 billion — and that’s not counting “The Dark Knight” and three “Chronicles of Narnia” films. Although several of his movies didn’t break six figures, Neeson’s roles in “Schindler’s List,” “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” and “The LEGO Movie” balance the scales in the actor’s favor.
27. Steve Carell
Six of Steve Carell’s seven highest-earning roles were for voiceover work in animated films, four of which are from the “Despicable Me” series. When you include his nine-figure hits like “Bruce Almighty,” “Evan Almighty” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” the actor cleans up with a total $3.66 billion gross and a strong average haul of $95 million per movie.
26. Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom boasts an impressive average of $166.02 million per movie, thanks to the three juggernaut franchise films that represent nine of his top 10 movies: “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” Although he’s appeared in fewer than 20 movies, and four of those grossed less than $100,000, his films have made a hefty $4 billion in total.
25. Woody Harrelson
The first name on the top half of the list is also the first actor whose movies have grossed more than $4.32 billion — Woody Harrelson, and the “Hunger Games” franchise dominates the tally of his highest-earning films. From “No Country for Old Men” and “Natural Born Killers” to “White Men Can’t Jump” and “The Thin Red Line,” Harrelson claims a long string of successful films.
24. Cameron Diaz
More than a third of Cameron Diaz’s $4.42 billion box office gross comes from the “Shrek” franchise, which represents her No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 movies. The “Charlie’s Angels” franchise, “There’s Something About Mary” and her first film “The Mask” also earned nine figures while contributing to the marketable Cameron Diaz brand.
23. Andy Serkis
Even without the $480 million haul from “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Andy Serkis lays claim to a portfolio of films that has earned $4.9 billion. The “Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Star Wars” franchises have done the bulk of the heavy lifting for Serkis, whose films average an imposing $167 million each.
22. Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett owes the lion’s share of her $4.3 billion resume to the “Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit” and “Thor” films, which account for around $2 billion of that haul. She also claims a handful of non-franchise films that grossed nine figures each.
21. Matt Damon
Matt Damon’s top 10 movies represent three decades of the versatile actor’s work, including “Good Will Hunting” and “Saving Private Ryan” in the 1990s, the “Bourne” franchise in the 2000s and “The Martian” in the 2010s — all of which posted nine-digit box office receipts. In all, his efforts have earned $4.45 billion.
20. Stellan Skarsgard
Although his top 10 list includes critical darlings and nine-digit powerhouses like “Good Will Hunting” and “Angels & Demons,” Stellan Skarsgard’s biggest films come from the “Avengers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises. In all, his movies have grossed $4.07 billion.
19. Bruce Willis
After $5.56 billion in collective box office earnings, Bruce Willis still counts an ’80s movie — “Look Who’s Talking” — and two ’90s movies — “Armageddon” and “The Sixth Sense” — among his four highest-grossing movies. The iconic “Die Hard” series, the blockbuster “Expendables” franchise and critical favorites like “Pulp Fiction” only sweeten the pot — and his net worth.
18. Will Smith
Will Smith can be relied on for an impressive $136 million average box office gross, thanks to blockbusters like “Independence Day,” “Men in Black,” “I Am Legend” and “Aladdin” all of which grossed more than $200 million. In total, his 26 movies are responsible for $5.13 billion in box office receipts.
17. Emma Watson
Emma Watson needed just 18 films to reach a total gross of $4.05 billion, thanks to the “Harry Potter” franchise, which represents eight of her nine biggest films. Her highest-grossing movie of all, however, is 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which pulled in more than $511 million and helped bump her per-movie average to a massive $178 million.
16. Robert De Niro
After more than 40 years and more than 80 films that include “The Godfather,” “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas,” Robert De Niro can claim a lifetime box office gross of $5.52 billion. His biggest movies, however, are more recent — the three “Meet the Parents” films represent three of his top five earners.
15. Robin Williams
The late Robin Williams, claims box office receipts of $5.8 billion, thanks to blockbusters like “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the “Night at the Museum” franchise and voice work for animated films like “Aladdin” and “Happy Feet.”
14. Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman’s $4.74 billion box office haul is impressive even when you don’t consider that the total omits two “Harry Potter” films.
13. Michael Caine
Although 65 films dot Michael Caine’s long and prestigious resume, much of his $4.9 billion total box office gross can be attributed to the most recent “Batman” trilogy, along with nine-digit showings from films like “Inception,” “Cars 2” and “Interstellar.”
12. Anthony Daniels
Although his resume lists just eight films, Anthony Daniels claims $7 billion in total box office dollars and a staggering per-film average of $448 million. Why? Because of his eight movies. One is the blockbuster “The LEGO Movie,” and the other seven all contain the words “Star Wars.”
11. Johnny Depp
A long-time fan favorite, Johnny Depp has been a reliable hitmaker since he first appeared in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. The biggest source of his $5.04 billion box office total, however, comes from his top seven films worldwide: the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “Alice Wonderland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
10. Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen movies have earned a total of $4.83 billion — thanks to the stunning success of 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast.” As well as his unforgettable roles in the “Lord of the Rings,” “Hobbit” and “X-Men” franchises giving him a stunning $114.2 million per-film average
9. Scarlett Johansson
The silver screen’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has a long, impressive resume dating back more than two decades. Her $5.71 billion in box office receipts, however, has largely been accumulated over the last few years. Her roles in “The Jungle Book,” “Sing” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise earned more than $200 million each.
8. Stanley Tucci
Stanley Tucci has credits dating back to the 1980s, but his roles in modern mega-franchises are the source of most of his $4.48 billion box office total. He struck gold in the “Transformers,” “Hunger Games” and Marvel Cinematic Universe series, as well as 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
7. Tom Cruise
For the last few decades, Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s hit machines, with classics like “Top Gun,” “A Few Good Men” and “Rain Man” among his starring roles. The biggest source of his $6.68 billion total haul and nearly $99 million per-movie average, however, is the incredible success of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise.
6. Eddie Murphy
Few actors have had a better or longer run than funnyman Eddie Murphy, whose films average nearly $98 million each for a total of $6.8 billion. His top 10 list is divided between early hits like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming to America,” groundbreaking ’90s performances in “Dr. Dolittle” and “The Nutty Professor,” and voice work for the blockbuster “Shrek” franchise.
5. Robert Downey, Jr.
Rounding out the top five is Robert Downey, Jr., who broke out with ’80s cult classics like “Less Than Zero” and “Weird Science” — but his massive $6.8 billion box office returns can largely be credited to his career’s second act. His role as Iron Man, as well as the success of the “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, make him one of history’s highest-grossing actors — as well as one of the richest.
4. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman’s legendary resume includes critically acclaimed titles like “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Lean on Me. His $6.54 billion box office total, have a lot to do with “the LEGO Movie,” “Bruce Almighty” and his recurring role in the franchise blockbuster “Dark Knight” trilogy.
3. Tom Hanks
Arguably the most versatile actor in history, Tom Hanks evolved from silly and lighthearted fare like “Splash” and “The Money Pit” to iconic game-changers like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away.” His $8.19 billion cumulative box office earnings — as well as his multimillion-dollar net worth — have been boosted by the success of animated series like “Toy Story,” but also come from critical darlings like “Forrest Gump.”
2. Harrison Ford
Every single actor on this list with a nine-figure average per movie has a relatively short resume — except for one. Harrison Ford boasts $119 million per film for a total of $10 billion, thanks to a nearly unprecedented run that includes the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, as well as critical and commercial hits like “The Fugitive,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “Patriot Games.
1. Samuel L. Jackson
Although he is not the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson — whose 77-strong resume includes “Pulp Fiction” and “A Time to Kill” — is the only actor on Earth who can claim gross receipts greater than $5 billion.
His $5.15 billion cumulative earnings are impressive even when you don’t consider that those totals omit “Jurassic Park,” two “Star Wars” films, “Iron Man,” “Thor” and a “Captain America” movie — any of which could be the biggest achievement on the resume of another actor.
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All data was gathered from domestic box office information published by Box Office Mojo as of Nov. 28, 2017.
Data is accurate as of December 31, 2018 and is subject to change.
About the Author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.