In 2020, Dwayne Johnson topped Forbes’ list of highest-paid actors thanks in large part to a $23.5 million paycheck from Netflix for the upcoming film “Red Notice.” And while those earnings are nothing to scoff at, it’s not even in the top 10 of highest-paid film roles of all time — some actors have managed to bring home a nine-figure paycheck from a single-acting gig.
Last updated: Aug. 27, 2021
10. Adam Sandler: ‘The Ridiculous Six’
- How much he made: $62.5 million
In 2017, Adam Sandler signed an estimated $250 million, four-movie deal with Netflix, Forbes reported. That breaks down to $62.5 million per film. The first movie in the deal, “The Ridiculous Six,” scored a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, but those millions are certainly a nice consolation prize for some bad reviews.
9. Harrison Ford: ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’
- How much he made: $65 million
Harrison Ford was already semi-retired when Paramount asked him to star in the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones film series, 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” So the film studio basically gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse: Paramount agreed to split almost all of the film’s earnings (after the studio made back its production and advertising costs) between Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Forbes reported. That deal made Ford $65 million richer.
8. Johnny Depp: ‘Alice in Wonderland’
- How much he made: $68 million
Johnny Depp made millions to portray the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland” — and he didn’t even have to work hard for it. According to an analysis by 24/7 Wall Street, Depp only spoke a total of 661 words in the film, making him one of the highest-paid actors for saying the least.
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7. Sandra Bullock: ‘Gravity’
- How much she made: $70 million
For her role as astronaut Ryan Stone in “Gravity,” Sandra Bullock struck a deal with Warner Bros. that included $20 million upfront, 15% of the studio’s share of box office gross, 15% of the studio’s share of film rental gross, plus a percentage from TV and ancillary revenue, The Hollywood Reporter reported. That all added up to a paycheck of at least $70 million.
Bullock’s out-of-this-world earnings have made her the only woman to land on this list.
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6. Tom Cruise: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’
- How much he made: $75 million
Even though “Mission: Impossible 3” was a (relative) box office failure, Tom Cruise was still paid big bucks to return to the franchise for the fourth installment, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” Forbes reported. His earnings from the film made Cruise the No. 9 highest-paid star on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in 2012.
5. Robert Downey Jr.: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
- How much he made: $75 million
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Downey Jr. “negotiated a unique financial arrangement with [Marvel] studio chief Kevin Feige that over the years resulted in massive paydays for the actor.” As part of his deal to portray Iron Man, Downey receives backend from all of the Avengers movies. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that he likely earned at least $75 million from 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which grossed more than $2 billion.
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4. Keanu Reeves: ‘The Matrix’
- How much he made: $83 million
Keanu Reeves has earned a total of about $250 million from the three “Matrix” films, The Hollywood Reporter reported, which breaks down to roughly $83 million per film. Reeves made $15 million upfront per film, plus a cut of the grosses.
3. Johnny Depp: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’
- How much he made: $90 million
Disney has paid Johnny Depp a whopping $90 million to star in each of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, Forbes reported. With five movies in the series, that amounts to a total payday of $450 million.
Even Depp has said that he has been overpaid to portray Captain Jack Sparrow.
“It’s ridiculous,” Depp told Vanity Fair of his “Pirates” paycheck.
2. Will Smith: ‘Men in Black 3’
- How much he made: $100 million
Will Smith made nine figures to suit up for the third movie in the popular “Men in Black” series. A source told The Hollywood Reporter that Smith earned $100 million from the film — a sizeable chunk of its $624 million box office gross.
1. Bruce Willis: ‘The Sixth Sense’
- How much he made: $115 million
Playing dead didn’t end up being too painful for Bruce Willis. The actor negotiated an extremely lucrative deal for himself when he signed on to star in “The Sixth Sense.” In addition to a $20 million salary, he negotiated for 17% of the film’s global box office gross plus additional rights to its home video sales, Thrillist reported. Those figures have added up to a $115 million payday for Willis from this one film alone.
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