First, the top dog has not yet been dethroned: for the third year in a row, veteran actor Robert Downey Jr. has held onto the number-one spot, bringing in a reported $80 million. He has a certain superhero to thank for that, as much of the monies can be attributed to his colossal paycheque for playing the title character in the Iron Man movies, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, which itself grossed $240 million.
The top dog has not yet been dethroned: for the third year in a row, veteran actor Robert Downey Jr.
The actor in second place might surprise you, simply because he hasn’t been as active in Hollywood as he was in the past. But Jackie Chan, perhaps best known in North America as one-half of the Rush Hour movie comedy duo, is still a fixture in Hong Kong, and brought in a cool $50 mil.
Part of the reason that there are plenty of newcomers this year is that it’s the first year that Forbes extended the list to not only include foreign actors who appear in Hollywood films (like Liam Neeson, who’s from Ireland, Hugh Jackman from Australia, and Daniel Craig from England) but also foreign actors who may not have made the crossover to American film, but still rake in the big bucks.
In total, 12 new names made the list of 34 actors this year (filling 25 spots due to nine ties), five of which hail from the juggernaut that is Bollywood – India’s form of Hollywood. And clearly Bollywood is on the rise: three of those five not only made the list, but cracked the top 10: Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, and Akshay Kumar. The first two tied at $33.5 million to tie for seventh spot, and the third just under at $32.5 million in ninth. It seems that along with their long careers on the big screen, all three men bolster their salaries by hosting popular game/reality TV shows: Bachchan with India’s version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, Khan with Big Brother, and Kumar with Dare to Dance.
The other six entries rounding out the top 10 are all staples in Hollywood, and a few may surprise you. Vin Diesel fell comfortable into third place with $47 million, thanks, of course, to Furious 7, which grossed a massive $1.5 billion worldwide. In fourth is an expected face: Bradley Cooper is one of Hollywood’s latest “it” guys, and it shows in his supposed paycheque, which reached a reported $41.5 million, thanks to box office successes like American Sniper. And, of course, drunken Vegas antics from the Hangover series have also helped pad his pocketbook.
Despite not having any box office hits, and a recent flop with Pixels, Adam Sandler’s big four-film deal with Netflix helped catapult him to the fifth position with $41 million. In fact, that figure amazingly put him a slot above A-lister Tom Cruise. But with Cruise’s $40 million to occupy the sixth spot, it’s clear the mission is possible.
Finishing off the top 10 is Boston strong: Mark Wahlberg, who managed to use a vulgar, talking teddy bear named TED to help amass a fortune totalling about $32 million. Okay, so he obviously got some help from movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction, and let’s not forget that it’s his company that produced the Entourage movie, based on the popular show (which was also loosely based on his own life). The former Calvin Klein model and rapper’s company also has a hand in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s comedy, Ballers.
Speaking of which, Johnson also made the list, coming up on Wahlberg’s heels in spot 11 with a comfortable $31.5 million. That’s pretty impressive for a man who used to make his living on the wrestling stage, and still dabbles there now and again. Apparently, Hollywood smells what The Rock is cooking, and likes it.
Looking at the remaining entries, there are a few surprises. For example, it appears a set of killer abs and hot dance moves can translate to big bank, as Magic Mike XXL’s Channing Tatum made the list at lucky number 13 with $29 million. Jokes aside, the male stripper-inspired follow-up flick has already grossed $167 million. And – get this – it only cost $7 million to make. That said, Tatum has also lent his acting talents to more serious roles, such as his work in Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher.
Ever wondered who makes more between the friendly duo: Matt Damon or Ben Affleck? It appears that Damon brought in bigger bucks at $25 million versus Affleck’s paltry (sense the sarcasm?) $19.5 million. But with the latter’s role as Batman in the upcoming Suicide Squad on the horizon, chances are they may trade places for 2016. That said, Damon’s upcoming reprisal as Jason Bourne in the popular Bourne Identity series might make it a tight race. They’ve come a long way from Good Will Hunting.
Perhaps more puzzling than the fact that funnyman Seth Rogen made the list, is that he also pulled in more than A-list actor George Clooney, at $17 million versus $16.5 million. What makes it all the more mind-boggling is that 2014 was rife with controversy for Rogen with all of the hoopla surrounding the movie The Interview – which got pulled from theaters – and the massive Sony hack. Guess the upfront $6.5 million paycheque helped secure his spot over the charming leading man.
Talk about a turnaround: Jonah Hill started out as the chubby sidekick in funny flicks, but demonstrated some serious acting chops in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street. That credibility boded well for him in the finance department, helping the young actor bring in $16 million.
The sheer number of actors who play superheroes on the list is indicative of our continued obsessions with comic book culture: Chris Hemsworth (Thor) made the list at $27 million, Hugh Jackman (X-Men’s The Wolverine) at $23 million, and Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, at $13.5 million. If the previous decade was all about book adaptations, this year, the comic book world is taking Hollywood by storm.
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