We often hear about the stats and figures surrounding the highest grossing movies and franchises, but far less often do we discuss the combined financial success of an individual actor’s movie catalog. While starring in one or two blockbuster films is certainly commendable, some actors have made a career of acting in box office toppers.
The actors on this list are a varied bunch, but they are certainly some of the biggest stars on earth, leaving no doubt as to why their films have achieved such astronomical earnings.
All of the numbers and stats that appear on this list are from boxofficemojo.com.
10. Gary Oldman
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.279 Billion
Gary Oldman has been a staple in the entertainment industry since the late ’70s and is still going strong today. He is also often cited as one of the best British actors of his generation and has been known for his big presence on screen. The biggest contributor to his success, and the reason why he appears on this list, is for his role as Commissioner James Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Of the three films in the franchise, The Dark Knight earned the most, grossing a whopping $534.9 million. And the entire trilogy earned an incredible $2.46 billion.
9. Michael Caine
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.285 Billion
Just like Gary Oldman in our previous entry, the highest earning films in Caine’s career have been The Dark Knight trilogy, in which he starred as Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family’s butler. Caine is a legend in the film industry and is renowned among Brits for his working class “cockney” accent. He has been nominated for numerous Academy Awards, two of which he has won: Best Supporting Actor for Hannah and Her Sisters and Best Supporting Actor for The Cider House Rules. He has also been knighted by the Queen, showing just how important he is to British cinema.
8. Johnny Depp
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.291 Billion
Depp is not only one of the most famous and recognizable actors in Hollywood, but he is also among the best moneymakers in the industry. After a brief start on TV as a teen star in 21 Jump Street, Depp made the jump to film and where he has taken on many challenging and “larger than life” roles. He, at one point in time, was the highest paid actor in Hollywood and has won numerous acting awards, including a Golden Globe for his performance in Sweeney Todd. Depp’s highest grossing film thus far in his career was the 2006 release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, in which he played the favored character of Captain Jack Sparrow, which made over $423 million.
7. Robert Downey Jr.
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.539 Billion
Robert Downey Jr. has had a very interesting career in comparison to the others on this list. His career began with a ton of commercial success, as his lead roles in movies such as Less Than Zero and Chaplin were critically acclaimed, but then drug abuse and other legal issues put his rising fame on pause. After a more than five year struggle, Downey Jr. returned to film in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since. Since this mid-life career revitalization, Downey Jr. is best known for his role as Tony Stark in the insanely popular Iron Man and Avengers series’. Of these mega blockbusters, the highest grossing film to-date is The Avengers, which brought in a massive $623.4 million.
6. Tom Cruise
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.587 Billion
When most people think of a movie star, their minds often go straight to Tom Cruise, who has dominated the big screen for years. He has been nominated for and won some of the biggest and most prestigious awards in the industry throughout his illustrious and lengthy career. But of the many wildly successful films he has starred in, the highest grossing film of Tom Cruise’s career thus far is War of the Worlds, which earned $234 million. Even though his most successful film earned much less than most of the others on this list, Cruise has starred in such an impressive number of successful blockbusters that his total gross earnings are still among the highest in Hollywood.
5. Eddie Murphy
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.810 Billion
Eddie Murphy got his start as a stand-up comic and cast member of the hit TV show Saturday Night Live. He became so successful in these roles that he was able to make the transition into film, and has since enjoyed a long and illustrious career on the big screen. He has appeared in comedies (Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor), dramas (Dreamgirls), and even in animated films as a voice actor (seriously, who could forget him as the hilarious Donkey in the Shrek movies?). His highest grossing film to-date was Shrek 2, which brought in $441 million at the box office.
4. Harrison Ford
Gross Earnings of Films: $3.935 Billion
Harrison Ford is one of the biggest movie stars of all time and has been active in film for over half a century. He has starred in some of the biggest blockbusters in history, but is best known for his roles as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy and as the title character and main protagonist in the Indiana Jones series. His highest grossing film of all time (to the surprise of no one) is Star Wars, which brought in a massive $461 million. Not bad for a film released in the late 1970s.
3. Morgan Freeman
Gross Earnings of Films: $4.319 Billion
If you are a fan of film, you’ve almost certainly sympathizes with one of Freeman’s characters, as he always seems to play the good guy that everyone can feel for. Freeman has been active in television and film since the 1960s and has won and been nominated for numerous awards during that time, including a Best Support Actor award for Million Dollar Baby. He is perhaps best known for his deep and soothing voice, which he has lent to narration of films like March of the Penguins and commercials for MasterCard. Like two other actors on this list, Morgan Freeman’s highest grossing film is The Dark Knight (which earned $534.9 million), in which he starred as Lucius Fox.
2. Tom Hanks
Gross Earnings of Films: $4.319 Billion
Hanks is not only one of the most talented actors of all times, he is also one of the most critically successful in terms of both box office earnings and award recognition. He has won an impressive two Academy Awards for his leading roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, as well as an impressive four Golden Globes for films such as Big and Cast Away. Despite appearing in a number of high profile and successful films, his highest earning movie to-date is Toy Story 3 ($415 million), the third installment in the Toy Story series where he voices the character of Woody.
1. Samuel L. Jackson
Gross Earnings of Films: $4.590 Billion
And coming in as the highest grossing actor of all time is none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson is a highly prolific actor who has appeared in a wide variety of blockbuster films throughout his career, including the likes of Pulp Fiction, Shaft, and Coach Carter. Samuel L. Jackson himself has claimed that he likes to select roles for himself that are exciting to watch and are interesting characters inside of the story. Like Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson’s highest grossing film thus far in his career is The Avengers, but we’re betting he’ll someday top that with another stellar film performance, as his days in the movie business are far from over.