With the right amount of good-looks, gravitas, and charisma, an actor can have a multi-decade movie career. People will first believe him as an impish youngster before graduating him to a smoldering leading-man, until finally relegating him to a movie’s wise elder. Consider Denzel Washington, 60 this year, who was in Carbon Copy in ’81, Training Day in 2001, and Safe House in 2012: impish, smoldering, and finally wise.
These 17 actors make so much money that they could finance an entire nation (well, their careers could.) They’re as lucrative as the manufacturing and import/export industry. Interesting to ponder, because we don’t technically “need” movies (nor do we really “need” textiles, or at least not in as a bountiful amount as we have), but they’re such a cash crop that people keep making them.
If you’re excited, get ready to find out the 17 highest grossing actors in Hollywood, who have each made the industry literally billions of dollars throughout their careers.
Please note that we’ve only provided the domestic numbers, because each studio has different contracts with foreign markets, which might falsify the intensity of some numbers.
17. Robert DeNiro – Total Gross $2,927,000,000
First on the list is Mr. Robert DeNiro, known for his role in Goodfellas and The Godfather Part II. But his most lucrative movie was neither one of those two. It was the Ben Stiller led comedy Meet The Fockers, which brought in $279,000,000 domestically. DeNiro movies typically gross around $39,000,000, which is surprisingly low given his total motion picture count of 75. There are other actors with fewer movies that average much more money, which increases the concentration from both ends, so to speak. That being case, DeNiro still pulls through as the 17th entry on the list.
16. Liam Neeson – Total Gross $2,941,000,000
At the age of 63, Liam Neeson is the 16th highest-grossing actor of all time. He has made 62 feature films, with each one grossing an average of $47,000,000. His most ‘expensive’ movie was Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace (1999), directed by George Lucas. It made $474,500,000. But Neeson also has his own, personal set of super-successful action flicks: the Taken franchise. This is where he uttered the eternal phrase: “ I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
15. Gary Oldman – Total Gross $3,030,000,000
Who would have guessed that freakin’ Gary Oldman, who played Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’sJFK, would be the 14th highest-grossing actor of all time? With 36 total movies and an average gross of $84,000,000, this 57-year-old Brit makes production companies very happy. His highest-grossing movie? The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan that made $535,000,000. He is best known for that and the two other Batman movies in that series: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, but he also plays George Smiley in the movie adaption of John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
14. Cameron Diaz – Total Gross $3,031,000,000
Cameron Diaz is known for her beauty, her character, and most of all, her astonishing set of legs. But she’s also the 14th highest grossing actor in Hollywood. Who would’ve thought that among the ranks of Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Lawrence, it’s Cameron Diaz would would bring in the most money? Her average gross is 89.2 million, and, unsurprisingly, her best-selling movie is Shrek 2. She has made $3,031,000,000 over only 34 movies (she’s quite a bit younger than many people on this list), so like twice the GDP of Brunei.