19 Highest-Paid Hollywood Roles Of All Time

19 Highest-Paid Hollywood Roles Of All Time


We all know that Hollywood stars make a bunch of money for whatever they do, but I think sometimes we don't realize just how much they earn.

Some of these celebrities are raking in more money on a single film than a professional athlete will see in a 15-year career.

These are the highest-paid TV and movie roles of all time, and I'm telling you right now: the amounts are ridiculous.


1. "Mad About You"

Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser each raked in a staggering $1 million per episode for the sixth season of Mad About You. That was a $750,000 raise for each of them from their previous contracts.

Reiser and Hunt had clauses in their contracts that they were to make the same amount of money as each other, and it literally paid off.

Not everyone liked this, though. Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf called these salary negotiations "a virus infecting the industry."

"It's insane," said Wolf in 1998. "Forty-four million [Hunt and Reiser's total take for the sixth season] for the actors on a 15-share show? It's a dangerous era in terms of salaries."

2. "Friends"

The Friends co-stars famously negotiated their salaries together up to $1 million each per episode, even before the Mad About You stars got theirs.

According to Business Insider, it was David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston who took pay cuts in order to stay on par with their co-stars. Schwimmer and Aniston were each being paid more than everyone else during the first three seasons, but Schwimmer convinced the cast to act as a "mini-union" to gain leverage and equality.

It's a lot harder to write out the entire cast than it is one or two people who are upset with pay checks.

3. "The Big Bang Theory"

TV Guide

The original cast of The Big Bang Theory, which includes Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco, all signed deals in 2014 to bring their per-episode pay up to $1 million each. They received a larger cut of the profits from reruns and development through Warner Bros.

Previously, the trio had been making $300,000 per episode, which is still nothing to sneeze at.


Once the show was renewed for a 12th season, cast members Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar reportedly began earning $1 million per episode as well, jumping up from $750,000.


Cuoco, Parsons, Galecki, Helberg, and Nayyar all voluntarily took $100,000 pay cuts after the studio wouldn't negotiate salaries with their other co-stars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

4. "Home Improvement"


Tim Allen benefitted from having a movie career to fall back on, so he didn't really need Home Improvement. The network knew this, so to keep Allen around for an eighth season they offered him $1.25 million per episode. It's kind of hard to turn down that kind of money.

But at some point, it's time to move on with your career, and Allen knew that. Despite being offered $50 million for a ninth season of the iconic show, Allen decided to walk away from Home Improvement.

5. "Seinfeld"


It pays to be funny, just ask Jerry Seinfeld. By the end of his self-titled sitcom, NBC was paying the comedian $1.5 million per episode.

In addition to being the star of the show, Seinfeld was also an executive producer, meaning he gets revenue generated from syndication. He doesn't get all of it, of course, but since the show started syndication in 1995, it has brought in $3.1 billion. Seinfeld is rumored to have banked $400 million of this.

If Seinfeld had decided to continue with the show, NBC was willing to pay him $5 million per episode, but the actor had no desire to keep going.

6. "Frasier"


NBC was hoping to avoid losing Kelsey Grammer like they lost Seinfeld, so they locked him in for a two-year contract extension worth $75 million. It averaged out to $1.6 million per episode, which was more than any Friends and Seinfeld cast member could dream of.

It's also rumored that Grammer's contract included syndication rights. While it's not clear just how much that was negotiated to be, it's bound to be a lot.

7. "Everybody Loves Raymond"


Grammer's title of being the highest paid actor on TV was short-lived, as in 2003 Ray Romano's salary was bumped to $1.7 million per episode.

It was an interesting move, as just weeks before the contract was signed. Romano had hinted that he was ready to leave Everybody Loves Raymond after a year.

"[It's] hard work," he said. "You start repeating yourself ... The trick is to get out when you're still wanted. Not too soon, but not too late."

8. "Anger Management"

Charlie Sheen is one lucky guy, as two of his shows had extremely high salaries. While on Anger Management, Sheen earned $2 million per episode for the two-season sitcom.

As for Two and a Half Men, Sheen raked in $1.8 million per episode.


1. "La La Land"

Imposter Pictures

The awkward Oscar's slip-up luckily didn't affect Emma Stone's pay check for La La Land, and the actress pulled in $26 million for the film.

This helped land Stone on Forbes' highest-paid actress list.

2. "Terminator 3: The Rise Of The Machines"

Warner Bros.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been around long enough to know that things can happen in Hollywood, and it's always good to have a backup plan.

When negotiating his contract for Terminator 3, Schwarzenegger received a "pay or play" fee, which meant that he would have still gotten paid even if the movie wasn't made.

The former governor of California raked in $29.25 million for the film.

3. "Lethal Weapon 4"


Mel Gibson made history in 1998 when he received $30 million for his role in Lethal Weapon 4. At the time, Gibson was the highest-paid actor for a single project, but that soon changed.

4. "Yes Man"

Warner Bros.

Jim Carrey's comedyYes Man may not have been an instant classic, but to his bank account it definitely was. Instead of asking for a regular salary, Carrey negotiated an ownership stake in the film. This saw him bring in $30 million for the role, which is 13% of what the movie grossed worldwide.

5. "Ocean's Eleven"

Warner Bros.

Brad Pitt made a smart choice taking a role in the 2001 film, as it earned him $30 million. This was the biggest salary of Pitt's career.

6. "Forrest Gump" and "Saving Private Ryan"


When Tom Hanks took on the role of Forrest Gump, he opted to take a cut of the box office gross instead of a regular salary. This was considered one of the smartest moves in Hollywood history, as the movie grossed $680 million. Hanks walked away with approximately $60 million.

Hanks asked for the same deal on Saving Private Ryan, which once again paid off. The actor raked in upwards of $40 million.

7. "Bad Teacher"


Sounds weird, right? A mediocre comedy film saw Cameron Diaz become one of the highest-paid movie actresses for a single role. Even though her salary for the film was just $1 million, Diaz earned a cut of the box office gross, which saw her land $42 million total.

8. "Batman"

Warner Bros.

Another case of asking for a cut of the box office! Jack Nicholson earned $6 million in salary, but after taking a percentage of the profits, Nicholson increased his pay check to over $50 million.

9. "The Avengers"


It's no secret that the Marvel movies are making big bucks at the box office, but Robert Downey Jr. is bringing in some cash of his own. To reprise his role of Iron Man in The Avengers, Downey was paid $50 million. He confirmed this in an interview with GQ.

The Hollywood Reporter recently suggested that the true figure was around $50 million. It's not the kind of thing most actors are prepared to talk about, but I ask Downey anyway.

"Yeah," he says, smiling.

Is that number about right?

"Yeah." A broader smile.

That's amazing."Isn't that crazy?" he says. "They're so pissed. I can't believe it. I'm what's known as 'a strategic cost.'"

10. "Gravity"

Warner Bros.

Sandra Bullock pulled in more than an astounding $70 million for her role in gravity, thanks to a well-negotiated contract that included a "first-dollar" gross. Bullock earned $20 million up front, plus 15% of the studio's earnings from the box office. The actress also received home video, TV, and ancillary revenues.

"The theatrical window is going to generate a third of the total revenue a movie will earn; it will get another third on DVD; and then the final third comes from pay and free TV," a veteran finance lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter.

11. "The Sixth Sense"


Bruce Willis took notes from those before him and asked or a cut of the revenue when signing onto the film. He earned $20 million in salary, plus another $100 million from revenue and video sales.

[H/T: Simplemost]

Meagan has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbs.