Who’s in the Money? 2019's Top Paid Actors

By Jake Schroeder
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Although his 2018 salary of $239 million trumps everyone on this list, George Clooney isn't on the 2019 list of biggest earners in Hollywood. Of course, Clooney has been busy with his twins and hasn’t appeared on the big screen since 2016 — the 2018 windfall came from a tequila deal — so we can cut him some slack. But if Clooney is out, who made the big bucks for their acting chops in 2019?

The ladies won’t be pleased to hear the list is mostly filled with men. In fact, only 10 of the 30 highest paid actors in 2019 are women. Perhaps the upcoming decade will see that start to change — only time will tell.

30. Kristen Stewart, $7 Million

Kristin Stewart earned a total of $25 million for her starring role in the five Twilight films. Since then, most of her roles have been in independent films, which don’t tend to pay as much, but it wasn't like she couldn't afford to be choosy. However, this year, she got involved in a more mainstream film: a Charlie's Angels reboot.

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Stewart's 2019 salary of $7 million came pretty much entirely from what she was paid for her role in Charlie's Angels. Whether she'll go back to independent films now or perhaps set her sights on Marvel or DC next, only time will tell.

29. Idris Elba, $8 Million

Idris Elba landed the role of Brixton in Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, a hugely successful film released in 2019. He brought in $8 million for that role, which isn’t too shabby for not being the main star. His total yearly salary didn't go above and beyond that figure, but that's not all he did for the year.

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Elba also starred in the film adaptation of the musical Cats, but the rest of his accomplishments for the year were outside of acting. He performed at the Coachella Music Festival in April 2019 and appeared (as a voice) in the Taylor Swift song "London Boy."

28. Ben Affleck, $8 Million

Ben Affleck had an $8 million income year in 2019, largely for his starring role in Netflix's Triple Frontier, an action film directed by J.C. Chandor. This was Affleck's first major role since 2017, when he took a break from his career due to a relapse in his battle with alcoholism.

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Affleck played a melancholy character in Triple Frontier, perhaps using his personal life to inspire his successful portrayal. He also reunited with Kevin Smith this year for the first time since 2006. It wasn't much, but he did make a cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

27. Leonardo DiCaprio, $10 Million

Leonardo DiCaprio had a pretty slow 2019, all things considered. His only role was in Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. DiCaprio often earns huge paychecks to work on a film, but this one paid him less than he usually expects to make. Of course, the fortune he’s made on other films allows him to pick and choose roles based on preference rather than money.

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The logic behind the decision was sound. Because Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wasn't a guaranteed box-office success, producers couldn't really afford to pay big-name actors a fortune to star in the film. DiCaprio still earned $10 million for his role, and that was his total salary for 2019.

26. Gal Gadot $10 Million

Gal Gadot is the star of DC Comic's Wonder Woman 1984, set to be released next summer. She was paid $10 million upfront for her role, which is not an amount to take lightly. This paycheck earned Gadot a seat on the list of top earning actors for a single role in 2019, after all.

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Still, compared to her male peers, Gadot's salary for her starring role in a major franchise superhero film comes up short. Chris Hemsworth, for example, made $15 million for playing Thor in Marvel's Avengers: Endgame. In the end, the movie kept her busy, and $10 million was her total salary for 2019.

25. Brad Pitt $10 Million

Brad Pitt's big role in 2019 was in Quentin Tarantino's summer flick Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. At the outset, it was unclear how well the film would do at the box office — people tend to love or hate Tarantino films — so the producers weren’t doling out the big bucks, even for big-name stars like Pitt.

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Pitt earned $10 million for the film (also his total earnings for the year), which is less than he usually makes for a leading role in a movie. That being said, stars like Pitt don't always choose roles for the money. Pitt clearly liked the project enough to take a pay cut, and the movie was a hit.

24. Jason Statham, $13 Million

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw was British actor Jason Statham's big paycheck for the year 2019. He earned $13 million for that role, which pretty much accounts for his entire year's salary. It may be down from other years, but it’s certainly not a sum most people would complain about — Statham included.

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He has some other things up his sleeve as well, although they mostly seem to be more like passion projects than big money-makers. For instance, he owns the London burger chain Fat Statham Burger, and he also launched his own brand of vodka called Pure Wonderstatham.

23. Ellen Pompeo, $22 Million

Ellen Pompeo's first and only major role as an actress began when she landed a spot on ABC's hit television show Grey's Anatomy in 2005. Before she got that role, Pompeo said she could barely make rent. Well, now it's 14 years later, and she is making $575,000 per episode, bringing her yearly salary to a grand total of $22 million.

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Aside from starring in Grey's Anatomy, Pompeo was also recently promoted to a role as one of the show's producers. Thanks to that extra endeavor, she makes nearly $7 million a year alone.

22. Charlize Theron, $23 Million

Charlize Theron made $23 million in 2019, a salary that came from an assortment of roles and projects rather than just one. First of all, she had a busy year as an actress, starring in three films released in 2019: Long Shot, The Addams Family and Bombshell.

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It was actually her own production company, Denver and Delilah Productions, that produced Long Shot, which grossed $52.9 million worldwide. That production company was also behind a new Netflix series, a crime thriller called Mindhunter. Theron has clearly diversified her talents, and it's paying off in the form of handsome dividends.

21. Margot Robbie, $23.5 Million

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) isn't set to premiere until February 2020, but Margot Robbie made $10 million upfront for playing the film's lead character. On top of that, Robbie was also a producer for Birds of Prey. All these things were huge contributors to her $23.5 million salary for 2019.

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Other contributing factors include Robbie's role in Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as her roles in Bombshell and Dreamland, all with 2019 releases. It sure seems like Robbie had a busy year.

20. Elisabeth Moss, $24 Million

When the Hulu hit series The Handmaid's Tale premiered in 2017, the show's leading actress, Elisabeth Moss, was only making $200,000 per episode. Nearly three years later, both the show and Moss herself have won numerous awards, making The Handmaid's Tale one of the most critically-acclaimed productions currently on the air.

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As a result, it certainly makes sense that Moss' salary has been bumped up quite a bit. That’s actually an understatement, because it’s now five times what it was when she started. That’s right — Moss now makes a cool $1 million for each episode. Her total yearly salary reached $24 million in 2019.

19. Kaley Cuoco, $25 Million

Nearly all of Kaley Cuoco's $25 million salary for 2019 came from her role on the immensely successful CBS television sitcom The Big Bang Theory. During the show's 12th and final (sniff) season in 2019, Cuoco made $900,000 per episode, and that's only because she took a $100,000 pay cut so some of her co-stars could be paid more. Nice, right?

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The Big Bang Theory is television's most watched show of all time. Even after 12 years on the air, 13 million viewers continued to tune in weekly. Certainly, part of that loyalty had to do with Penny, Cuoco's character on the show.

18. Ryan Reynolds, $27 Million

Ryan Reynolds may not have had the biggest overall salary for acting in 2019 — making a mere $27 million for the year — but he did accomplish something equally impressive. Reynolds was the highest paid actor in 2019 for a single role. Yes, that entire $27 million came from his lead role in the Michael Bay vigilante film 6 Underground.

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Certainly, this massive accomplishment puts Reynolds in the big leagues as far as acting is concerned. (Okay, he was already in the big leagues.) While he also starred in the 2019 film Pokémon Detective Pikachu, what Reynolds made on that one must have just accounted for his yearly taxes.

17. Jennifer Aniston, $28 Million

The world fell in love with Jennifer Aniston's role as Rachel Green on the ‘90s sitcom Friends. However, since the show ended 15 years ago, Aniston hasn't given television another go until recently. Her huge $28 million earnings in 2019 have a lot to do with her re-entrance into television, starring on the Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show, where she makes $2 million per episode.

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Aniston also starred in the hit 2019 Netflix film Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler. The movie broke the record as the streaming company's biggest opening weekend for an original film in the company’s history.

16. Nicole Kidman, $34 Million

Nicole Kidman's Golden Globe and Emmy for her role in season one of Big Little Lies pushed her salary for the show from $350,000 per episode to $1 million per episode during season two. That amount doesn’t include the extra she makes as an executive producer of the now critically-acclaimed series, either.

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All of that accounts for part of Kidman's $34 million yearly salary for 2019, but there's more. She also owns a production company called Blossom Films, and she starred in two films released this year, Bombshell and The Goldfinch.

15. Reese Witherspoon, $35 Million

Reese Witherspoon has been making $1 million per episode of Big Little Lies for all of season two. That juicy amount is quadruple what she made per episode for season one, thanks to the show's wild success. In all, her salary for 2019 was $35 million.

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Aside from starring in Big Little Lies, she also works behind-the-scenes as an executive producer on the show. On top of that, Witherspoon is an executive producer and a star of Apple's new drama The Morning Show (with Jennifer Aniston), for which she earns $2 million per episode.

14. Will Smith, $35 Million

Will Smith has had an active 2019. His role as the Genie in Aladdin — a $1 billion live-action film — probably had something to do with his $35 million earnings for the year. Another big part of his resurging success for the year seems to come back to the energy he is putting into his social media.

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Smith's annual video views on Instagram are double Cristiano Ronaldo's, and Ronaldo is Instagram's most followed person. His 2019 watch time on YouTube totaled 1.1 billion minutes. A lot of those minutes were for Aladdin trailers, but they were funneled in from Smith's own YouTube channel.

13. Paul Rudd, $41 Million

Paul Rudd used to be all about making comedies — lucrative but not necessarily top dollar gigs — but landing the role as Marvel's Ant-Man changed the game for his salary. In 2019, he made $41 million. Some of it came from 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp profits, and the other major part was his role in Avengers: Endgame, which helped him land a spot as one of the year's highest paid actors.

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Rudd also went in another direction to boost his 2019 income. For the first time, he got starring roles in the Netflix series Living with Yourself, where he plays both Miles Elliot and the clone of Miles Elliot.

12. Chris Evans, $43.5 Million

Like his famous co-stars, Chris Evans' role as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame left his bank account much bigger than when the year started. He earned $15 million for that single film alone, which is actually $14 million more than he made when Marvel first hired him for Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. Now, that's a huge raise!

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Evans' overall 2019 salary was $43.5 million, which means he has obviously stayed pretty busy. He starred in Rian Johnson's murder mystery film, Knives Out, and will appear in the Apple TV+ original series Defending Jacob.

11. Jerry Seinfeld, $43.5 Million

Between still earning millions per year for all those Seinfeld reruns, touring for stand-up comedy shows and his amazingly popular and entertaining web series — Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee — Jerry Seinfeld's total salary for 2019 was $43.5 million. In fact, the web series was just renewed for a ninth season, so there's more where that came from for next year already.

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More great news for Jerry Seinfeld and his wallet is that Seinfeld just got a huge new contract with Hulu. That means the show will continue to be a gift that keeps on giving for a while.

10. Sofía Vergara, $44.1 Million

Modern Family began its 11th and final season this fall, which has many fans beside themselves as they wait to see how the show ends. Many of the sitcom's fans have fallen in love with Sofía Vergara's character, Gloria, over the years, and her 2019 salary reflects her enormous fame. This year, she earned $44.1 million, making her 2019's second-highest paid actress.

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Much of her salary comes from Modern Family, but not all of it. She is also an entrepreneur in addition to being a critically-acclaimed actress. Her companies include Sofia Jeans and a line of furniture and decor at Rooms to Go, a furniture superstore.

9. Scarlett Johansson, $56 Million

Scarlett Johansson made $56 million in 2019, making it the second year in a row that she earned the top spot as the highest paid actress. The pay gap between actors and actresses remains noteworthy, so this is an especially impressive feat. Her role as Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame earned her a paycheck of $35 million all by itself.

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Johansson considers herself "very fortunate" to be earning as much as a lot of her male peers. However, she does agree that the problem should be addressed with regard to the gender-based pay gap.

8. Adam Sandler, $57 Million

Adam Sandler's movie heyday may have come and gone in previous decades, but he is still earning like he's in his prime in 2019. With his $57 million salary for the year, Sandler proves he is still very much a star. The hit comedy Murder Mystery with Jennifer Aniston was Sandler's biggest role in 2019 and his biggest source of earnings for the year.

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Aside from Murder Mystery, Sandler had an assortment of other successes in 2019 as well. Namely, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live and made a hit comedy special.

7. Bradley Cooper, $57 Million

Avengers: Endgame created a huge payday for a lot of actors, and it's true that Bradley Cooper did quite well for his voice work on Rocket. However, as surprising as it may be, most of his $57 million 2019 salary actually came from other endeavors.

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Cooper's trifecta roles as director, actor and co-producer of the maudlin musical A Star Is Born brought him 70% of his 2019 earnings. It's fair to say that he is a man of many talents, and he is paid quite well to share them.

6. Jackie Chan, $58 Million

Known for his martial arts skills, Jackie Chan continues to make huge waves in the film industry. Just this past year, he starred in three films, helping him reach a $58 million payday for 2019. Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask was recently released in China.

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Chan also makes quite a bit of money from the Dragon Blade franchise. To many people in the West, Chan may not seem like he would still be a huge earner in the film industry, but in Asia, he's all the rage — even at age 61.

5. Akshay Kumar, $65 Million

Akshay Kumar may not be very well known in the U.S., but that doesn’t stop him from making boat loads of money from his Bollywood acting career in India. In fact, 2019 was a great year for him at $65 million. Kumar starred in a number of Indian films this year, including Mission Mangal, a drama about Indian space researchers going to Mars.

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It hasn't only been this past year that Kumar got busy, either. Over the course of his career, which began in the 1990s, he has starred in more than 100 films, and 52 of them have enjoyed commercial success.

4. Robert Downey Jr., $66 Million

Robert Downey Jr's 2019 earnings were a measly $66 million, largely because he was Iron Man in Avenger's: Endgame. He also gets a piece of that movie's $2.796 billion box office sales — almost 8%, to be exact. From Avengers: Endgame alone, Downey Jr took home $55 million.

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There's no doubt he made similar sums for the Avengers films in previous years, which means he's racking up quite a handsome net worth. While his other upcoming films might not add quite as much to his bank account in the future, it will be nice to see such a talented actor in a variety of roles.

3. Chris Hemsworth, $76.4 Million

As Thor in Avengers: Endgame, Chris Hemsworth made a pretty penny, helping him reach the status of third-highest earning actor in 2019 at $76.4 million. Lucky for him, Thor survived the film, allowing him to star in Thor: Love and Thunder in 2021. Whether he is looking forward to playing Thor again or getting the big, fat paycheck that comes with it is a question for another day.

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In addition to Avengers: Endgame, Hemsworth starred in Men in Black: International in 2019. It was a bit different in its approach to aliens and lacked the superhero element, but the role was still quite lucrative financially.

2. Kevin Hart, $87.5 Million

It's Kevin Hart's hustle as a comedian that has brought him such huge success, both in terms of notoriety and money. His $87.5 million salary for 2019 says it all. While Hart is an actor who has starred in both films and television series, his work in 2019 consisted mainly of touring for stand-up comedy shows.

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The first comedian to ever top Jerry Seinfeld's annual earnings, Hart fills arenas and stadiums wherever he goes. This year alone, his tour included more than 100 shows, and his gross per show is somewhere in the vicinity of $1 million.

1. The Rock, $89.4 Million

Dwayne Johnson, more commonly known as The Rock, made $89.4 million in 2019. He can mostly thank Jumanji: The Next Level for that huge salary. Almost a third of that amount was paid upfront, plus he gets 15% from other high-performing franchise films, such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

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In terms of other lucrative projects for The Rock in 2019, about $20 million came from Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. He also collects $700,000 per episode of the HBO series Ballers and gets paid royalties from his Under Armour branded products.