We all have a special relationship with our silver screen stars. But which one of your favorite movie actors has made their movies the most money?
Here are the 30 highest-grossing actors of all time. Some of them will likely surprise you.
30. Gary Oldman
British actor Gary Oldman is a chameleon. He disappears into his roles — sometimes assisted by makeup like in Darkest Hour, sometimes just a pair of specs like in The Dark Knight Trilogy. And sometimes, like his magical work in the Harry Potter film saga, he helps others disappear, too.
Thanks to these iconic book adaptations, Oldman earns a spot on this list. And while fans can debate who would win between a Harry Potter-Batman fight, The Dark Knight triumphs as Oldman’s highest-grossing film. He plays Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, the one honest cop in a dishonest Gotham City.
29. Dwayne Johnson
Are you following Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Instagram? If not — what are you doing with your life? Correct this, quickly. He posts incredible selfies, motivational speeches, and best of all, the wildest cheat meals you’ve ever seen. We can smell what The Rock is cooking: It’s eight million pancakes.
Johnson recently vroomed into the prolific Fast & Furious franchise, even spinning off his character into the 2019 standalone action flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. But Johnson’s highest-grossing movie is a gentler, funnier affair. It’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the video game update of the Robin Williams classic.
28. Woody Harrelson
When replacing Coach as the main bartender on the essential sitcom Cheers, Woody Harrelson came into our entertainment lives as a gentle, simple, goofy guy. But in his film career, he’s radically shifted his persona, playing unhinged yet charismatic weirdos in titles like Zombieland and Natural Born Killers.
Harrelson struck gold by nabbing a role in the Hunger Games film franchise. He plays Haymitch Abernathy, a former winner of the games who mentors Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. He’s as eccentrically watchable as the actor who plays him, and the second entry, Catching Fire, is Harrelson’s highest grosser.
27. Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett has an otherworldly presence. Her characters take ideas we know and present them in unique ways that feel familiar but surprising. Say what you will about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but her non-blinking performance as Irina Spalko is like no other villain.
It makes sense that her performance as royal elf Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King cements the title as her highest-grossing film. Blanchett embodies the ethereal character (which she reprised in the Hobbit trilogy) with enough of an anchor to keep us invested.
26. Vin Diesel
“I am Groot.” With these three simple words, Vin Diesel gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe the jolt of sincerity and humor it needed. Diesel’s performance as CG tree Groot was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, but his later MCU work in Avengers: Infinity War is his highest-grossing film.
Beyond the MCU, Diesel lived up to his last name with his highly profitable Fast & Furious franchise. He centered the first one in 2001, then dipped out for awhile. But when he came back in 2009’s Fast & Furious, he amped the entire series up to a new, high-octane level.
25. Josh Brolin
It’s hard to fully trust Josh Brolin. From The Goonies to No Country For Old Men, Brolin’s characters are roguish scoundrels with a twinkle in one eye and a threat in the other. This all came to a head in Brolin’s highest-grossing film.
He just needed to go purple.
Thanos is the big, bad, cosmic villain of the MCU. And in a revolutionary motion-capture-assisted performance, Brolin turned the character from a simple-minded dude after some space stones into a downright Shakespearean villain of intrigue and even sympathy. Avengers: Endgame, the conclusion to his story, is Brolin’s biggest money maker.
24. Jeremy Renner
Becoming a high-earning movie star seems difficult. But for Jeremy Renner, all he had to do was take aim and fire.
His role as Hawkeye, the sharp-shooting archer of the MCU, is full of grit and humanity. Avengers: Endgame is the highest-earning of the bunch.
Outside of the MCU, Renner has been a welcome addition to the Mission: Impossible franchise, giving Ghost Protocol a welcome sense of deadpan humor. He also gave Oscar-nominated performances in The Hurt Locker and The Town — in both, he shows the vulnerability behind usually hyper-masculine roles.
23. Will Smith
Will Smith is one heck of a movie star.
Men In Black. Independence Day. Hitch. The guy just oozes charm, humor, warmth, and watchability. Even in his darker roles like I Am Legend or Hancock, we’ll follow Smith down whatever path he chooses to take. So what’s his highest-grossing film?
Aladdin, the 2019 live action remake of the 1992 Disney animated musical.
Smith had big shoes to fill, taking over the role of the Genie from Robin Williams. To his credit, Smith made it his own instead mere imitation. His performance of “Friend Like Me” is… a banger.
22. Benedict Cumberbatch
Despite having a difficult to pronounce name, Benedict Cumberbatch is the 22nd highest-grossing actor of all time. After making the Internet go gaga over his take on Sherlock Holmes, Cumberbatch signed up for the MCU. His Doctor Strange is not unlike Holmes. Funny. Arrogant. And exceptional at his job.
Avengers: Endgame, featuring a brief but beautiful moment of Cumberbatch heroism, is his highest-grossing film. Beyond the MCU, Cumberbatch has taken on the Grinch, Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, and got an Oscar nod for playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.
The guy is both Magneto and Gandalf. He’s central to both the X-Men and Lord of the Rings film franchises. You’re just not gonna step to Sir Ian McKellen.
And if you do, he’ll just control your metal stuff and scream “You shall not pass!” until you get the message.
In 2017, McKellen added another iconic role to his resume: Cogsworth, the stern butler who is literally a clock, in the 2017 live action Beauty and the Beast remake. McKellen gives the role equal parts formality and silliness, all while infusing it with just the most necessary Britishness.
20. Idris Elba
To be blunt, Idris Elba is very handsome. You can throw on a horned helmet, color his eyes orange, and make him stand in front of a gate, and he’ll still be a looker.
Coincidentally, that’s exactly what they did to him in his role of Heimdall in the MCU.
Elba’s time in the comic book film universe ended in Avengers: Infinity War, his biggest money-earner. After that, he turned heads as the charismatic villain in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. He also won a Golden Globe for his role as the titular antihero detective in Luther.
19. Mark Ruffalo
Okay, confession time. Raise your hands if you had a crush on Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame.
If you’re not raising your hand, you’re lying. He’s thicc as heck AND wears a smart cardigan AND gives people tacos when they’re sad. He fully rules, thanks to Mark Ruffalo.
The MCU movie is Ruffalo’s highest-grossing title, a wild turn of events given previous false starting big-screen takes on the Hulk (even within the MCU, in the Edward Norton-starring 2008 The Incredible Hulk). But Ruffalo nails him, bringing his indie cred honed in movies like You Can Count On Me.
18. Stanley Tucci
You might not know Stanley Tucci’s name by heart. But you definitely know his face. He’s stolen the show with awesome supporting roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, and the Hunger Games franchise. What’s at the top of the versatile character actor’s box office haul?
Be… our… guest! To Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic. In the update, Tucci plays a new character, Maestro Cadenza, whom we can only describe as “a high-strung harpsichord.” Tucci’s new role gives the film a playful sense of contemporary humor.
17. Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy is a comedian, the only one on this list. But he’s also a bonafide movie star, headlining classics like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and The Nutty Professor (1996).
To really make that green, though, Murphy had to team up with someone green.
“Hey, Shrek!” Can you hear that in Murphy’s iconic voice? Now picture it coming out of the mouth of a dang donkey.
The Shrek franchise threw Murphy’s animated performance in the midst of a self-aware fairy tale revolution. Shrek 2 is the highest-grossing of the bunch, and of Murphy’s career.
16. Johnny Depp
During filming, Disney studio execs hated Johnny Depp’s performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. CEO Michael Eisner even said Depp’s drunken antics were ruining the movie.
As they would soon learn, they were complaining their way to the bank.
Depp’s “hated” performance changed the future of his career, Disney’s perception, and what blockbuster audiences were ready to accept. The second film in the franchise, Dead Man’s Chest, is Depp’s biggest money-earner, paving the way for huge flicks like Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
15. Tom Cruise
People seemed surprised when Tom Cruise jumped on a couch and shouted about how he loved Katie Holmes. But, like, why?
From Jerry Maguire to the Mission: Impossible franchise, to the way the man runs, Cruise’s movie stardom is denoted by pure, sheer commitment.
This commitment catapulted Cruise to the 15th highest-grossing actor of all time. In 2005, he teamed up with one of his favorite directors, Steven Spielberg, to deliver a surprisingly gritty War of the Worlds adaptation. Audiences ate it up, giving Cruise his highest-earning flick.
14. Chris Hemsworth
Only those deemed worthy can wield the hammer of Mjolnir. But a dope set of abs don’t hurt.
Chris Hemsworth, whom we would like to dub “the thunder from down under,” plays the mighty Norse god Thor in the MCU. And when Thor gained weight, so did the box office.
In Avengers: Endgame, Hemsworth’s biggest money-maker, he takes the comedic rediscovery of the character from Thor: Ragnarok to a heightened extreme, turning him into a lethargic, Lebowski-esque figure of humorous defeat. And if you dig Hemsworth the comedian, check him out having a ball in Ghostbusters (2016).
13. Chris Evans
If you follow him on Twitter, you know that Chris Evans is Captain America IRL. He’s constantly posting about the brightest and most positive people, while using his shield to protect those who need help.
And hey — he’s pretty good at playing Captain America onscreen, too.
Cap gets the best sendoff in Avengers: Endgame, Evans’ biggest film. He keeps his Avengers together through tragedy, reunites with his beloved, and gets complimented on his physique by Paul Rudd. If you’re looking for a non-Cap Evans role, check out his comedy work in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
12. Anthony Daniels
How do you become a money-making movie star without showing your face? For Anthony Daniels, the answer was simple: Put on a gold robot costume.
Through the sheer volume of his appearances as C-3PO in the Star Wars franchise, Daniels is the 12th highest-grossing actor.
Alongside his whistling partner R2-D2, C-3PO gives the franchise some of its most genuine comic relief. Daniels’ fussy English accent is charming, and his mannerisms are just classic. It’s wonderful to see him reappear in The Force Awakens, his highest-earning film.
11. Chris Pratt
So you’re a key member of beloved sitcom Parks and Recreation? Fine. Wait, but now you’re a key member of the MCU thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy? Okay, sure. Wait, but now you’re also a key member of the Jurassic World and Lego Movie franchises?
Chris Pratt: calm down!
All of these titles and more earned the ever-charming Pratt tons of acclaim and fan goodwill. Avengers: Endgame is his highest earner, and his performance as Star-Lord is textbook Pratt, both cooly wisecracking and disarmingly sincere. Pratt, if you’re not too busy, could you make us a mixtape?
10. Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana played a lead role in the highest-grossing film of all time, Avatar. Until Avatar’s reign was bested by another film, Avengers: Endgame. Oh — and Saldana happened to play a lead role in that one, too.
Filmmakers take note: You wanna make money, you cast Saldana.
Beyond these two box office behemoths, Saldana is a central role of another lucrative film franchise: the J. J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. At this point, why not hire Saldana as Secretary of the Treasury? We’d never have another recession again!
9. Andy Serkis
Does your film need a CGI-rendered character? And would you prefer it to have an incredible human performance at its core? There is one man you must call, and that man is Andy Serkis. His talent, his commitment, and his versatility are all “precious.”
Serkis broke through as Gollum/Smeagol, the creature transformed by the ring in the Lord of the Rings franchise. He then kept crushing in the new Planet of the Apes and Star Wars trilogies. The Force Awakens is his highest-earning film, but at number two is a live-action turn in Black Panther.
8. Don Cheadle
Terrence Howard is likely upset about the eighth highest-grossing actor of all time. Howard was cast as Jim Rhodes in the very first Iron Man, but was replaced in the MCU from Iron Man 2 on. Taking his place?
Don Cheadle, the eight highest-grossing actor of all time.
Cheadle flew Rhodes through his iconic comic book arc, turning into War Machine, Iron Man’s metal-suit-assisted partner in heroism. And in Avengers: Endgame, Cheadle’s highest-performing film, Rhodes is at the center of everything. Cheadle also helped the Ocean’s Eleven reboot trilogy rake in lots of box office chips.
7. Morgan Freeman
Ah, that voice. That soothing, peaceful, iconic voice. It guides us through undeniable classics like The Shawshank Redemption and dark underworlds like Seven. And it belongs to, of course, Morgan Freeman. There should be a rule where he says the last line of every movie, don’t you think?
Freeman’s highest-grossing film is The Dark Knight, where he plays tech guru Lucius Fox. At his personal number three, for playing a wizard, The Lego Movie. For playing the president in Deep Impact, number seven. And for literally playing God in Bruce Almighty, number four.
6. Bradley Cooper
Among his many talents — acting, directing, singing — Bradley Cooper deserves credit for making audiences care about smaller dramas that don’t have superheroes. American Sniper is his fourth highest-earning movie. A Star Is Born (2018), number nine. American Hustle, number ten. What’s number one?
Well… a superhero movie.
But Cooper doesn’t play your average superhero. He plays, and there’s truly no other way to phrase this, a grumpy talking raccoon. His inimitable voice work as Rocket Raccoon was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, and has been a mainstay in the MCU through Avengers: Endgame, Cooper’s biggest money-maker.
5. Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks may not be the number one grossing actor of all time. But he is definitely a contender for the number one actor we’d most like to be our dad of all time.
That’s not weird, right? Good, didn’t think so.
Amidst his high-earning classics like Forrest Gump and Cast Away, Hanks’ voicework as Woody the cowboy in Toy Story 3 nabs his top spot. Woody has always been a sterling showcase for Hanks, but the third Toy Story entry finds him at his most emotionally vulnerable.
4. Harrison Ford
Let’s think about Harrison Ford’s resume for a second. He’s Han Solo… and he’s Indiana Jones. One of those is more than enough to solidify a reputation as “coolest actor ever.” But both?
The Force is strong with this one.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ford’s most lucrative film, Han Solo’s entrance is pure beauty. Ford may have a reputation for being a bit of a grump off-screen, but when he climbs back into that Millennium Falcon and exclaims, “Chewie, we’re home,” you know he means it.
3. Scarlett Johansson
You know how some celebrity couples have fun nicknames, where you splice their two names together? Scarlett Johansson is such a fierce film force, that she has her own celebrity couple nickname just out of her own name: ScarJo.
And don’t you forget it.
ScarJo took the role of Black Widow and ran with it all the way through Avengers: Endgame, her highest-grossing film. She gives the mysterious assassin equal parts ambiguity and relatability. Plus, it’s a hoot watching Johannsson perform those awesome fight scenes. Check out Lucy if you want more ScarJo butt-kicking.
2. Robert Downey Jr.
There’s only one non-MCU film in the top ten box office earners of Robert Downey Jr. It’s Sherlock Holmes (2009), the Guy Ritchie-directed reimagining where Downey uses his brain to slow-motion box the heck out of his foes. Everything else is Iron Man. And what a role Iron Man was.
Did you know the most iconic moment in Avengers: Endgame, Downey’s highest-earning film, almost didn’t happen?
Originally, Downey didn’t say anything when he snapped Thanos away. Then, the editor realized what Downey needed to say to truly end the character’s journey: “I am Iron Man.” They shot it the next day.
1. Samuel L. Jackson
At the end of Iron Man, after the credits roll, Hollywood vet Samuel L. Jackson shows up. Wearing an eyepatch. To talk to Tony Stark about the “Avenger initiative.”
And from that point on, Hollywood was changed forever, cementing Jackson as the highest-earning actor of all time.
Jackson’s Nick Fury is the onscreen architect of the MCU. And in 2012’s The Avengers, Jackson’s highest-earning movie, it all came together in a rollicking good time. Beyond the MCU, top 10 movies for Jackson include the Incredibles franchise, and a little dinosaur movie called Jurassic Park.
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