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Biggest Actor Salaries 2021 + Their Underpaid Roles According to Movie Mike

Variety put together a list of the bigger movie star salaries. These are the amounts they each made on ONE movie which is insane. Some of these movies have already come out and others are coming soon. I wanted to take a look at the list to offer you the roles that I think they should have made more money for because of their performance.

10. Ryan Gosling: “The Grey Man” (Netflix) – $20-million

Role They Should Have Made More On: Drive - $1.5 million

Ryan Gosling is a fantastic actor and very particular about the roles he takes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad Ryan Gosling movie. My favorite of his is Drive (2011) where he plays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. It’s the perfect movie and one he should have made more on!

9. Sandra Bullock: “The Lost City Of D” (Netflix) – $20-million (April 15, 2022)

Role They Should Have Made More On: Speed $500k

Sandra Bullock is now a household name. However, her breakout movie role, Speed, paid her just $500,000! That’s crazy to me. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves took home $1.2 million for his role…granted he was a bigger name at the time. But still…justice for Sandra!

8. Julia Roberts: “Leave The World Behind” (Netflix) – $25-million (2022)

Role They Should Have Made More On: Pretty Woman - $300k

Julia Roberts was the highest-paid actress in the world throughout most of the 1990s and in the first half of the 2000s. However, in one of her early and most iconic roles..her fee was only $300,000! Later in 2003, she was paid an unprecedented $25 million for her role in Mona Lisa Smile. She now has a net worth of $250 million so she is doing pretty well for herself…I really think she’s going places!

7. Jennifer Lawrence: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) – $25-million (comes out on December 10th)

Role They Should Have Made More On: Winter’s Bone - $3,000 per week…about $12,000 total.

In her breakout role Winter's Bone…she was paid $3,000 per week and the movie took 24 days to film. Which isn’t much money…brining home around $12,000. But the role went on to be nominated for an Oscar for best actress. She then became the world's highest-paid actress in 2015 and 2016, with her movies making over $6 billion worldwide.

6. Mark Wahlberg: “Spenser Confidential” (Netflix) – $30-million

Role They Should Have Made More On: Boogie Nights - $1 million

In 1997, Mark Wahlberg starred in the drama "Boogie Nights," a tale about the adult film industry in Los Angeles in the '70s. He was already a rising star but this movie definitely elevated his career.The movie earned three Academy Award nominations and Mark walked away with $1 million dollars even though it was only his fifth movie. It’s on Netflix now if you haven’t seen it.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio: “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) – $30-million (comes out on December 10th)

Role They Should Have Made More On: What's Eating Gilbert Grape - $75,000

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my Top 5 actors and another who I will watch no matter what they are in. He’s been making top dollar for decades now. And when he’s in a movie…you get what you pay for with a performance only he could do. I had to go back to when he was 19 years old in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to find one in which he was underpaid. However, the 19-year-old Leo did get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor.

4. Denzel Washington: “The Little Things” (WB/HBO Max) – $40-million

Role They Should Have Made More On: Training Day - $12 million

For me, I think Denzel is hit or miss these days. But nonetheless, his name gets people in the seats to watch his latest movie. My favorite role of his was in Training Day. That movie would not have been the same without him. He did not need to go that hard for his salary of $12 million!

3. Will Smith: “King Richard” (WB/HBO Max) – $40-million (comes out on November 19th)

Role They Should Have Made More On: $10 Million

At this point in his career, he was already making $20 million dollars per movie. However, he took a payout to be in The Pursuit of Happyness.But he did end up negotiating a percentage of the film’s profits into his contract, so he ended up making more on the back end. But he gave such a powerful performance in this movie and I truly love the more emotional and dramatic side of his acting career. This is him at his best.

2. Dwayne Johnson: “Red One” (Amazon) – $50-million

Role They Should Have Made More On: Pain & Gain $1-3 million (reported)

It’s still crazy to me that Dwayne Johnson went from being one of my favorite wrestlers as a kid to one of the most profitable movie stars of all-time. A movie I loved of his was a Michael Bay action movie called “Pain and Gain” from 2013. The Rock, Mark Walhburg and Anthony Mackie all took a payout to get the movie made which was done in total for $26 million…which is pretty low for an action movie. The Rock got super jacked for this movie…like he does for all his roles. A very underrated performance I feel that goes overlooked but glad he and the other actors took the cut to get it made.

1. Daniel Craig: “Knives Out” sequels (Netflix) – $100-million ($50 million each)

Role They Should Have Made More On: None! I think he’s overpaid.

The reason he beat out Dwayne Johnson is because he is guaranteed $50 million for his next two movies. I liked Knives Out and his performance in that. But I can’t say that I’m at all a Daniel Craig fan. I never got into him as James Bond and find it hard to believe he makes this much per movie! Mad respect to him as an actor who made the majority of his money and hit his prime later in his career. But I can’t say that he should have earned any more for any of his prior roles and in my opinion…is overpaid!

To hear the full breakdown of this list….check out Movie Mike’s Movie Podcast!