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Which Actor Made the Most Money With One Iconic Role

Actors’ performances are often what make or break any film’s expectations. This is why companies like Netflix have invested more than $540 million in total for the top celebrity performers. That list includes Dwayne Johnson, who reportedly earned $23.5 million just on his Netflix film Red Notice.

At Bright Side, we were also curious and found out which actor earned the most money with just a single production.

16. Brad Pitt — $30,000,000

Brad Pitt starred in Ocean’s Eleven as Robert “Rusty” Ryan — the partner-in-crime of George Clooney’s character, Danny Ocean. In the movie, Rusty can be seen eating something in every scene that he is in. Brad even ate 40 shrimp during the filming of one scene.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger — $30,000,000

12 years after his last Terminator movie release, Arnold Schwarzenegger almost didn’t return to star as the titular character in Terminator 3. He initially refused the role, but accepted it after his friend James Cameron gave him a piece of advice: “Take the money and run.”

14. Angelina Jolie — $33,000,000

Also serving as an executive producer for Maleficent, Angelina Jolie made sure that the character was depicted as close to her animated version as possible. She was so hands-on with the character that she even did her own stunts.

13. Jim Carrey — $35,000,000

Taking on the role of Carl Allen in Yes Man, Jim Carrey reportedly refused to take an upfront salary in exchange for 36% of the movie’s profits. Critics were skeptical about the agreement, but now that we know how much he earned, that deal has always been a big “yes.”

12. Cameron Diaz — $42,000,000

Playing the Bad Teacher actually paid off for Cameron Diaz. She took on the role of Elizabeth Halsey for only $1 million but also had a deal to take home a portion of the movie’s profits. The movie only had a $20 million budget and earned more than $200 million in the box office.

11. Johnny Depp — $55,000,000

Johnny Depp took home a huge paycheck when he agreed to return as the witty Captain Jack Sparrow for the fourth time in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Depp’s portrayal of the character was initially frowned upon while the first movie was being made, but the character easily became one of the best things about the franchise.

10. Leonardo DiCaprio — $59,000,000

Inception starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb. Director Christopher Nolan actually only had DiCaprio as a choice to play Cobb. The movie has an intricate plot that involves infiltrating dreams and had an ending that left many people confused, even DiCaprio himself.

9. Jack Nicholson — $60,000,000

Even though Jack Nicholson starred as the Joker in Batman more than 30 years ago, the actor has earned millions due to his deal to receive a percentage of the movie’s profits. During filming, it took 2 hours to transform Nicholson into the Joker, and it was definitely worth every second of it.

8. Harrison Ford — $65,000,000

Harrison Ford returned as Indiana Jones in the fourth movie of the franchise, along with a huge paycheck. He seems to love playing the role though, since, during the filming of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Ford insisted that he actually wield Indiana’s famous whip instead of it being computer generated.

7. Tom Hanks — $65,000,000

One of Tom Hank’s most famous and successful roles is that of Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name. It was later revealed that because of issues during the making of the movie, the actor paid for some parts of the production out of his own pocket.

6. Sandra Bullock — $70,000,000

Released in 2013, the sci-fi thriller movie Gravity starred Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone. To prepare for the film’s shooting that was supposed to be set in outer space, Sandra spent 6 months doing intense physical training while reviewing the script with director Alfonso Cuarón.

5. Robert Downey Jr. — $75,000,000

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe kicked off with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. With his deal with the studio, he took home $75 million in Avengers: Endgame, which is tied to his reported earnings in Avengers: Infinity War and in Iron Man 3.

4. Bruce Willis — $100,000,000

The director of the movie The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, created the role of Malcolm Crowe with Bruce Willis in mind. To keep the movie’s secret from being found out by eagle-eyed sleuths, Bruce Willis even learned how to write and draw with his right hand.

3. Will Smith — $100,000,000

Will Smith got the biggest haul when he reprised the role of Agent J in Men In Black 3. He also received top billing and surpassed co-star Tommy Lee Jones in the movie.

2. Tom Cruise — $100,000,000

The action-spy movie Mission: Impossible 2 saw the return of Ethan Hunt, portrayed by Tom Cruise. Cruise personally performed his stunts, including the rock-climbing scene at the start of the movie. The movie also became the highest grossing film of 2000, the year it was released.

1. Keanu Reeves — $156,000,000

Filmed back-to-back, the second and third Matrix films were also released in the same year. It was also announced that Keanu Reeves will be returning to reprise his iconic role as Neo in a fourth Matrix movie.

Have you seen all of these movies? What was the highest amount you earned in a single paycheck?

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