Highest Paid Actors and Actresses of All Time
It takes a lot of talent to entertain audiences year after year, film after film, and TV show after TV show. Moreover, as any observer of Hollywood knows, the best and most popular actors and actresses are rewarded handsomely for their performances. Who are among the highest paid actors and actresses for television and Hollywood of all time? Read on to find out.
HIGHEST PAID TELEVISION ACTORS
• The Cast of Friends — One of the most popular shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Friends earned millions of dollars in advertising revenue for NBC. By the end of the show’s run in 2004, the cast was sharing in the show’s financial success, with main cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer all earning $1 million dollars per episode.
• Jerry Seinfeld — Jerry Seinfeld allegedly turned down $5 million an episode to extend the run of the hit show Seinfeld from nine to ten seasons. In 1999, Forbes magazine said that he had earned a total of $267 million from the sitcom, a number that has only increased in the years since then because of the program’s extensive syndication.
• Hugh Laurie — When Laurie’s acting turn as Dr. Gregory House on the TV program House M.D. ended in 2012, he was earning $18 million a year.
• Ashton Kutcher — Ashton Kutcher began starring in a leading role in the sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2011, earning $24 for the 2011–2012 television season.
• Sofia Vergara — As one of the members of the popular ensemble cast of Modern Family, Sofia Vergara earns $19 million a year from the television show, movies, commercials, endorsements and other appearances.
• John Cryer — The other key part of the Two and a Half Men duo, Jon Cryer earns $13 million a year for playing Alan Harper in the hit sitcom.
• Mark Harmon — The star of CBS’ hit program NCIS is reported to earn $15 million a year for his role in the TV drama.
• Eva Longoria — Eva Longoria was earning $375,000 an episode during the final season of Desperate Housewives, which aired during the 2011–2012 television season.
• Mariska Hargitay — As main character Olivia Benson in what is inarguably the most popular show in the Law & Order franchise, Hargitay was earning $10 million a year for her role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as of 2012.
• Bill Cosby — Although $40,000 per episode may not seem like much money in comparison to other salaries on this list, Bill Cosby was the highest paid actor in television history during the last few years of The Cosby Show. At one point, The Cosby Show was even ranked the most profitable television show in history.
HIGHEST PAID MOVIE STARS
• Tom Cruise — When it comes to the movies, the highest paid actor of all time is undoubtedly Tom Cruise, who earns $75 million dollars a year in per-film salaries and residuals as of 2012.
• Will Smith — Will Smith began his career as a star of the small screen’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Since making the move to Hollywood movies in the early 1990s, however, Smith has become one of the highest-paid movie stars of all time, earning roughly $30 million dollars a year for films, commercials and more.
• Johnny Depp — The acclaimed star of films including Edward Scissorhands and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Depp earns $30 million a year for putting his acting talent to good use.
• Jennifer Aniston — Aniston has the distinction of appearing on both the highest paid TV actresses and the highest paid Hollywood movie actresses of all time lists. As of 2012, Aniston was earning $28 million for her work on the big screen.
• Julia Roberts — No list of the highest paid Hollywood actresses of all time would be complete without Julia Roberts. Although her career has slowed in recent years, she was still earning about $20 million a year in 2012.
• Meryl Street — Meryl Streep is one of the most acclaimed actresses of her generation. She is also one of the highest paid actresses, earning $10 million annually for her film roles.