by Andrew Lisa
For the most elite actors in show business, their presence alone can propel a movie into the stratosphere. Hollywood’s biggest names earn billions for investors, producers and studios over the course of their careers.
PrettyFamous looked at the highest-grossing actors, and how much their movies have earned at the U.S. box office. Every actor on the list has appeared in more than five films, and has played more than a bit part or cameo role in those films. In order to level the playing field, all financial figures listed have been adjusted for inflation. Actors and actresses are sorted from least to most lucrative.
#21. Daniel Radcliffe
Total Box Office Gross: $2.89 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $221.93 million
Starting off the list is Daniel Radcliffe, whose career provides even further evidence of the power of a single successful franchise. Eight Harry Potter movies dominate his short résumé, which brings his average box-office earnings to a whopping $222 million per movie. All told, his movies have earned $2.9 billion.
#20. Mel Gibson
Total Box Office Gross: $2.97 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $123.93 million
Although his later career has been embroiled in personal and political turmoil, Mel Gibson achieved wild success on both sides of the camera with the Mad Max franchise, the Lethal Weapon franchise, “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ.” His two dozen films earned an average of $124 million at the box office, for a total of $2.97 billion.
#19. Emma Watson
Total Box Office Gross: $3 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $272.71 million
Emma Watson’s résumé is short, but incredibly sweet. More than half of her films — eight in total — belong to the Harry Potter series, the global juggernaut that is the second most-successful film franchise in history. Because of that, her movies average $100.22 million for a grand total of more than $3 billion.
#18. Sandra Bullock
Total Box Office Gross: $3.01 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $100.22 million
Sandra Bullock — the actress People magazine calls “America’s Sweetheart” —
won awards for “Gravity,” “The Blind Side” and “Crash,” and has been nominated for many more. The cumulative box office take for all of her movies is $3 billion, with her films averaging $100.22 million each.
#17. Julia Roberts
Total Box Office Gross: $3.03 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $94.64 million
Although “Mystic Pizza” put her on the map, her iconic role in “Pretty Woman” — which is still her most successful movie — made her a superstar. Her combined movies have earned nearly $3.3 billion, and each film she appears in earns an average of $95 million, nearly three times less than what “Pretty Woman” pulled in.
#16. Matt Damon
Total Box Office Gross: $3.12 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $86.55 million
Although he had previous roles in “Mystic Pizza” and “School Ties,” Matt Damon entered the mainstream when he and co-writer Ben Affleck sold “Good Will Hunting” to Miramax in 1994 for $600,000. “Good Will Hunting” not only earned him five awards on 13 nominations, but led to starring roles in the Bourne Identity and Oceans 11 franchises, which have pushed his lifetime box-office earnings to $3.12 billion, with $86.55 million earned from his average film.
#15. Morgan Freeman
Total Box Office Gross: $3.26 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $69.34 million
Known for his soothing voice and his smooth demeanor, Morgan Freeman has been nominated for 30 awards, 13 of which he won, including one Oscar. With movie credits dating back to 1960, his career has endured for more than half a century.
His average movie earns $69.34 million. In all, Morgan Freeman’s movies have pulled in $3.26 billion.
#14. Ian McKellen
Total Box Office Gross: $3.261 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $181.16 million
Ten of Ian McKellen’s top 11 movies are split between three franchises: The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and X-Men. Because of the success of those heavyweight brands, his average film earns $181.16 million, even though he’s been in four movies that have earned less than $1 million. In all, his 18 films have grossed $3.26 billion.
#13. Robert De Niro
Total Box Office Gross: $3.32 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $55.27 million
Widely considered to be one of the greatest actors of his generation and of all time, Robert De Niro struck early box-office success and critical accolades with masterpieces like “Mean Streets” and “The Godfather Part II.” He stayed on top with movies like “Goodfellas” and then reinvented himself as a comedic actor with his role in the “Meet the Parents” franchise. His 60 films have brought in $3.32 billion, with the average title earning $55.27 million.
#12. Jim Carrey
Total Box Office Gross: $3.38 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $140.71 million
Arguably the most successful crossover comedian of the 1990s, Jim Carrey parlayed his slapstick stand-up comedy persona into legitimate big-screen success. His two dozen films have a cumulative gross of $3.38 billion. His average movie earns $140.71 million.
#11. Will Smith
Total Box Office Gross: $3.53 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $176.44 million
The ultimate crossover celebrity, Will Smith has reached the highest echelons of television, music and movie stardom — all in one lifetime. His movies have earned $3.53 billion, with five films taking in more than $220 million — far more than his average earnings of $176.44 million per film.
#10. Bruce Willis
Total Box Office Gross: $3.57 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $77.6 million
Bruce Willis was already an Emmy Award-winning household name from his small-screen success on “Moonlighting” when “Die Hard” launched him to global celebrity. Bruce Willis’ nearly 50 movies have earned a combined $3.57 billion. His average movie brings in $77.6 million, less than half of the $161.69 million that “Die Hard” earned.
#9. Carrie Fisher
Total Box Office Gross: $3.64 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $520.55 million
For anyone to rank among the 10 highest earners in Hollywood is an amazing feat, but to do it with just seven movies puts Carrie Fisher all alone at the top, with her films averaging an astounding $520.55 million each. Carrie Fisher’s handful of movies — which include her timeless roles as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise — have pulled in a whopping $3.64 billion.
#8. Cameron Diaz
Total Box Office Gross: $3.65 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $114.16 million
Although it was her role in “The Mask” that launched her into the mainstream and won her the lead in “There’s Something About Mary,” most of Cameron Diaz’s top films are part of the animated Shrek franchise. These films account for four of her top five movies. Her 32 films have earned a combined $3.65 billion, bringing in a average of $114.16 million each.
#7. Robert Downey Jr.
Total Box Office Gross: $3.7 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $90.21 million
Robert Downey Jr. has been the highest-paid actor in the world for three years in a row, earning an $80 million annual payday — the highest in history. His five biggest movies are all represented by the Iron Man character and the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, which combine for more than $2.1 billion of the $3.7 billion his movies have earned in total. His average movie earns $92.19 million, with a dozen of his films earning more.
#6. Johnny Depp
Total Box Office Gross: $3.78 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $92 million
Fantasy movies do the heavy lifting on both the critical and commercial end of Johnny Depp’s career success. His top three movies, which combine for more than $1.33 billion, are from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — the series to which Depp also owes four of his seven award wins. His movies have earned $3.78 billion, with the average Johnny Depp film bringing in more than $92 million.
#5. Robin Williams
Total Box Office Gross: $3.82 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $95.59 million
Three Grammys, two Emmys and an Oscar are among the 18 awards the late Robin Williams accumulated throughout his career. His movies have earned a combined $3.82 billion. Scoring major critical and commercial success across the animated, comedy and drama genres, the average Robin Williams movie earned $95.59 million.
#4. Eddie Murphy
Total Box Office Gross: $4.76 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $140 million
Between the years 1980 and 1984, Eddie Murphy was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and starred in smash hits “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop.” The average Eddie Murphy movie earns nearly $140 million — yet an impressive 13 Eddie Murphy movies have earned more than that. His movies have combined for $4.76 billion at the box office, with more than a billion coming from his top two movies alone.
#3. Tom Cruise
Total Box Office Gross: $5 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $161.32 million
According to Forbes, Tom Cruise has not been part of a genuine, bona fide box-office flop since “Top Gun” rocketed him to global superstardom in 1986. Critical and commercial successes like “Rain Man” and “A Few Good Men,” as well as the “Mission Impossible” franchise juggernaut, have helped Tom Cruise movies earn an average of $161.32 million each at the box office for a total of $5 billion.
#2. Tom Hanks
Total Box Office Gross: $5.05 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $140.16 million
Tom Hanks — who was a sitcom actor until he got his big break in “Splash” in 1984 — has appeared in nearly two dozen movies that have grossed at least $100 million. All told, his films have earned a combined $5.05 billion. The average Tom Hanks movie pulls in $140.16 million.
#1. Harrison Ford
Total Box Office Gross: $7.17 billion
Average Gross Per Movie: $224.14 million
Although he appeared in surprise hit “American Graffiti” four years earlier, it was Harrison Ford’s iconic role as Han Solo in 1977 blockbuster “Star Wars” that catapulted him from Hollywood carpenter to international superstar. Harrison Ford’s movies have earned more than $7.12 billion combined, with $1.8 billion from the original “Star Wars” alone. The most bankable actor in Hollywood, the average Harrison Ford movie earns an impressive $224.14 million.