Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix"
Warner Bros.

It's rare for actors to rake in huge salaries today, at least compared to the days when audiences were drawn to a movie primarily based on its leading star.

Years ago, if a certain actor's name were attached to a movie, it was almost a guaranteed success. Stars like Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Jim Carrey were paid big bucks in the 1990s because they attracted a crowd.

For instance, Carrey was paid $20 million (R291 million) - a rarity today - for "The Cable Guy" in 1996, because it was expected that he could deliver a $20 million (R291 million) opening weekend at least.

Now, audiences are more attracted to a franchise than a star. "Avengers: Endgame" is a box-office sensation, for instance, breaking the records for the biggest domestic and worldwide openings of all time.

But some big name actors have the recognition and leverage to still strike gigantic deals. Ryan Reynolds is making $27 million (R393 million) for his upcoming Netflix movie, "Six Underground," according to Variety.

Below are 17 of the highest paid movie roles of all time, ranked:

17. Emma Stone as Mia in "La La Land"

Summit Entertainment

$26 million (R379 million)

Source: Forbes

Stone topped Forbes' list of the world's highest paid actresses in 2017 with $26 million (R379 million), most of that coming from her Oscar-winning role in the 2016 film "La La Land."

16. Ryan Reynolds in "Six Underground"

Getty Images

$27 million (R393 million)

Source: Variety

The release date is yet to be determined, but Reynolds is set to make $27 million (R393 million) for this Michael Bay-directed Netflix action movie, about six billionaires who turn into vigilantes.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"

Warner Bros.

$29 million

Source: Slate

Schwarzenegger promised that he'd be back for a third Terminator movie under some pretty specific circumstances, including a $29.25 million "pay or play" fee, which he would receive even if the movie wasn't made.

14. Jim Carrey as Carl Allen in "Yes Man"

$30 million (R437 million)

Source: Forbes

Carrey reportedly exchanged his salary for "Yes Man" for an ownership stake in the movie, which paid off.

13. Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller in "Saving Private Ryan"

Paramount Pictures

$40 million (R583 million)

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Hanks has struck "act now, get paid later" deals on multiple films, in which he would receive a portion of the box office earnings. That got him at least $40 million (R583 million) for "Saving Private Ryan," but it's not his most lucrative deal.

12. Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey in "Bad Teacher"

'Bad Teacher'/Sony Pictures

$42 million (R612 million)

Source: Yahoo Finance

Diaz was paid a mere $1 million (R14.5 million) to get "Bad Teacher" produced, but received a portion of box-office earnings, which secured her over $40 million (R612 million) for the movie. It's known as one of the most "legendary" deals in Hollywood history.

11. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "The Avengers"

Marvel Studios

$50 million (R729 million)

Source: GQ

It should come as no surprise that Downey gets paid a lot for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he's confirmed that he got paid $50 million (R729 million) just for the first "Avengers" movie.

10. Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb in "Inception"

Warner Bros.

$50 million (R729 million)

Source: Forbes

DiCaprio earned at least $50 million (R729 million) for Christopher Nolan's 2010 film "Inception" just from box-office earnings, but his deal also included home video and television sales. According to Forbes, he took a pay cut because the movie was so "risky," but he and Nolan agreed to split first dollar gross points.

9. Jack Nicholson as The Joker in "Batman"

AP Photo / Warner Bros.

$50 million (R729 million)

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Though Nicholson was paid $6 million (R87 million) up front for his role as the villainous Joker in the 1989 "Batman" film, he reportedly secured a lucrative deal that included box-office earnings and merchandise sales from its sequels - that he didn't even appear in.

8. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"


$55 million (R802 million)

Source: Forbes

Forbes reported in 2010 that "On Stranger Tides" - the fourth "Pirates" movie released in 2011 - was the most expensive movies ever made, with production costs of over $410 million (R5.9 billion). A large portion of those costs were due to paying staff and actors. Depp alone made $55 million (R802 million) for the movie.

In 2011, Depp admitted that he was "overpaid" for the "Pirates" movies, for which he has reportedly made over $300 million (R4.3 billion) combined.

7. Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in "Forrest Gump"


$60 million (R875 million)

Source: Entertainment Weekly

The box-office hit "Forrest Gump" is another case in which Hanks opted for performance-based pay, in which he received an estimated $60 million (R875 million).

6. Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

$65 million (R948 million)

Source: Forbes

To get Ford back for a fourth "Indiana Jones" movie, Paramount agreed to a deal that split a large portion of the film's earnings between him, director Steven Spielberg, and producer George Lucas.

5. Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland"

$68 million (R991 million)

Source: The Telegraph

According to the Telegraph, Depp earned 50 million pounds for "Alice in Wonderland," which was about $68 million (R991 million) in the US.

4. Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone in "Gravity"

$70 million (R1 billion)

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Bullock was paid $20 million (R291 million) up front for "Gravity," which is an impressive number on its own. But her deal also included 15% of box office revenue, which got her at least $70 million (R1 billion).

3. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol"


$75 million (R1 billion)

Source: Forbes

Cruise earned $75 million (R1 billion) from the fourth "Mission: Impossible" movie, "Ghost Protocol," which allowed him to top Forbes' most powerful actors list in 2012.

2. Will Smith as Agent J in "Men in Black 3"

Sony Pictures / Wilson Webb

$100 million (R1.4 billion)

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Will Smith's performance-based pay for the third "Men in Black" movie got him $100 million (R1.4 billion) of its $624 million (R9.1 billion) gross.

1. Keanu Reeves as Neo in "The Matrix" trilogy

Warner Bros.

$250 million (combined) (R3.6 billion) 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Between all three "Matrix" films, Keanu Reeves' combined pay was $250 million (R3.6 billion). 

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