Some of history’s top-grossing actors ground out big returns slowly over the course of long careers. Others scored huge hits with recurring roles in franchises early on. Regardless, the actors and actresses who bring home the big bucks are all but guaranteed fame and fortune in return.
From Oscar-winning performers to blockbuster action stars, learn about the actors and actresses whose films have made the most money of all time at the worldwide box office.
Last updated: Feb. 10, 2021
15. Paul Bettany
Voicing JARVIS in the original “Iron Man” film turned out to be a lucrative role for Paul Bettany. He reprised the voice role for “Iron Man 2,” “Iron Man 3” and “Avengers”– all of which earned over a half-billion dollars at the worldwide box office. His movies have grossed a total of $4.27 billion domestically and an iron-clad $9.9 billion worldwide.
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14. Idris Elba
Idris Elba’s movies have earned $9.95 billion at the worldwide box office. As it stands, his biggest movie is “Avengers: Infinity War” — which earned $2.04 billion worldwide and $679 million domestically — though “The Jungle Book (2016)” and “Zootopia” are no slouches, either.
13. Alan Rickman
Acting great Alan Rickman, who died in 2016, racked up a total box-office gross of $10.28 billion worldwide. Only a dozen other actors have broken into 11 digits. His memorable films include “Die Hard,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and “Galaxy Quest.”
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12. Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel’s biggest movies include the “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Fast and the Furious” franchises. In total, the action star’s movies have grossed more than $10.3 billion at the worldwide box office.
11. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman’s legendary resume includes critically acclaimed titles like “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Lean on Me.” His $10.37 billion worldwide box-office total, however, has a lot to do with his role in the franchise blockbuster “Dark Knight” and its sequel, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
10. Johnny Depp
A longtime fan favorite, Johnny Depp has been a reliable hitmaker since he first appeared in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. The biggest source of his $4.3 billion box-office total, however, comes from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and “Alice in Wonderland,” which are among the top-grossing films of all time. In total, Depp’s films have earned nearly $10.44 billion worldwide.
9. Bradley Cooper
A quirky breakout role in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers” launched Bradley Cooper into a decade-plus run that included critical and commercial smashes like “The Hangover” movies, “American Sniper,” “American Hustle” and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. In all, his movies have brought home nearly $11.06 billion worldwide.
8. Dwayne Johnson
The man known as “The Rock” is quickly cruising toward 100 credits, many of which are among the biggest blockbusters in history–not bad for a crossover actor who’s a wrestler by trade. Thanks to the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, as well as blockbusters like “Moana” and “San Andreas,” Dwayne Johnson’s movies have earned nearly $11.09 billion worldwide.
7. Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle’s most critically acclaimed works — including “Hotel Rwanda,” “Boogie Nights” and “Crash” — earned low- to mid-eight-figure box-office receipts. But in total, his movies have brought in more than $11.09 billion worldwide.
If you’re wondering how that’s possible, note that Cheadle starred in three movies that pulled in more than $400 million each domestically — “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” — between the years 2015 and 2019.
6. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt has starred in three of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time: “Avengers: Endgame,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Jurassic World.” With an average gross of $171 million per movie, Pratt’s films have grossed a total of $11.29 billion worldwide.
5. Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana had a starring role in “Avatar,” the second-biggest movie of all time. That, along with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, helped her over 30-strong film resume gross almost $11.59 billion worldwide.
4. Scarlett Johansson
The silver screen’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has a long, impressive resume dating back more than two decades. Her nearly $12.11 billion in worldwide box-office receipts, however, has largely been accumulated over the last few years. Her roles in “The Jungle Book,” “Sing” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise earned more than $200 million each. She’s one of only four actors to break the $12 billion mark.
3. Andy Serkis
Andy Serkis lays claim to a portfolio of films that has earned nearly $12.57 billion worldwide. The “Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Star Wars” franchises have done the bulk of the heavy lifting for Serkis, whose films average an imposing $189 million each.
2. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. broke out with ’80s cult classics like “Less Than Zero” and “Weird Science” — but his massive $12.79 billion worldwide box-office returns can largely be credited to his career’s second act. His role as Iron Man, as well as the success of the “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, make him one of history’s highest-grossing actors — as well as one of the richest.
1. Samuel L. Jackson
Although he is not the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson — whose 112-film-strong resume includes “Pulp Fiction” and “A Time to Kill” — blows away every other actor’s worldwide gross receipts by a mile. Roles in film franchises that include “The Avengers” and “Star Wars” have lifted Jackson’s tally to nearly $17.33 billion, more than $4.5 billion more than the next highest-grossing actor.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.