If you ask anybody to name who they think the richest actors in the world are, you would probably hear a list of household names from Hollywood films.
While a few major actors do make the list, a lot of the richest actors are names you may have never heard of before. Some are TV actors, others belong to a different kind of “wood”: Bollywood. But no matter where they live or what they do exactly, all of them have one thing in common: they are all super rich.
Here’s a list of the top 10 richest actors in the world as of 2021.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Net worth: $2.6 billion
The Queen of Media grew her hit talk show, which ran for 25 years, into a media and business empire, with profits estimated to be around $2.6 billion.
At the age of 19, she became a news anchor for local (WLAC-TV) CBS television station. She later became a reporter and coacher for the ABC news tie, and the next year, she became co-host of the Baltimore morning show, People Are Talking. She then moved to Chicago to host a 30 minutes morning talk show AM Chicago. Roger Ebert then convinced Winfrey to license her show for national audiences throw syndication. The show renamed to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and would become the best-rated TV talk show in the United States, and earn several Emmy Awards.
2. Jami Gertz
Net worth: $2 billion
Jami Gertz is an actor and producer known mostly from her role in Crossroads, which grossed $5.8 million. She featured in TV series such as The Lost Boy (grossed approximately $32.2 million), Less Than Zero (grossed around $12.4 million), and Quicksilver (grossed $7.2 million). Her husband is the co-founder of Ares Capital, an LA investment firm with over $40 billion in assets.
Gertz and her husband have a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team worth $1.7 billion. They are also the majority owners of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. They have donated more than $10 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
3. Jerry Seinfeld
Net worth: $950 million
Comedian and TV star Jerry Seinfeld is one of the highest paid actors in the world thanks to his namesake show – the famous 90s sitcom, Seinfeld. The actor earned $20,000 per episode during the first season, but by season 9, his salary was a staggering $1 million per episode. By the end of the series, he had netted $60 million in salary alone.
But Seinfeld’s biggest earnings didn’t come from his acting but from owning a percentage of the show’s backend equity points. Both he and Larry David (the head writer and executive producer of the show) own 7.5%. This means that every time the show is syndicated or licensed to companies like Hulu or Netflix, both of them earn millions. The first syndication sale, back in 1998, earned each of them $255 million, with an extra $75 million when Netflix bought the rights to stream the show.
Seinfeld also owns one of the largest private car collections in the world (around 150 cars, including about 50 Porsches) and a number of luxurious properties in NYC, Colorado and California.
4. Shah Rukh Khan
Net worth: $600 Million
Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan has more than 80 movies to his name and is known around the world as “The King of Bollywood.” Though much of Khan’s money comes from his acting, he’s also the co-chairman of a production company and co-owner of the cricket team, Kolkata Knight Riders.
A large portion of Khan’s net worth comes from endorsements, and he often works as a stage show performer, adding on additional millions to his yearly earnings. In addition to real estate in India, Khan also owns a $20 million apartment in London and an ultra-luxurious Signature Villa in Dubai.
5. Tyler Perry
Net worth: $600 million
Tyler Perry is an American actor, director, and producer. His successful debut was in 2006 with his second film Medea’s Family Reunion, which grossed $65 million. Perry is able to take the most significant shares of his films profits since he writes, directs, and produces all of his movies.
He has 13 prominent films that have grossed above $600 million, whereby each film cost was less than $10 million to make. Perry has produced more than 30 movies, 20 stage productions, and eight TV shows. He earns $100 to $150 million annually through his entertainment empire.
6. Tom Cruise
Net worth: $570 Million
Cruise earned only $75,000 for one of his earlier films, Risky Business, but his earnings shot up like a rocket from there. Just a few year later, he was already commanding $2 million for movies like Top Gun. By the time the Mission Impossible movies came around, Cruise was not only acting but also producing the films – which means he earned an impressive $70 million on the first Mission Impossible. Mission Impossible 2 and War of the Worlds earned him $100 million each.
Cruise has also invested in a number of luxurious real estate properties throughout the years, including an $11.4 million dollar Hollywood Hills property, a $3-million NYC condo, and a Beverly Hills mansion that he later sold for $40 million.
7. George Clooney
Net worth: $500 Million
George Clooney might not be as active on the silver screen as he once was, but his work as an actor, director and producer has earned him enough millions to keep him high on this list of the richest actors in the world. Clooney earned over $10 million for his work in the TV drama ER, and at least $10 million for each movie he has appeared in since then. His highest paycheck was for $20 million for the movie, Ocean’s Eleven.
Clooney’s net worth is comprised of a lot of real estate ownership, including a $30 million villa in Lake Como, Italy. Since marrying human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, the couple has purchased properties in California, London and New York City. Another good move for Clooney’s net worth was selling his tequila company, Casamigos. The company was founded in 2013 by Clooney, businessman Rande Gerber (Cindy Crawford’s husband) and real estate developer Mike Meldman. The company sold in 2017 for a whopping $700 million.
8. Mel Gibson
Net worth: $425 Million
Before Mel Gibson’s controversial behavior caused him some issues in Hollywood back in 2006, the actor was earning millions per year. In fact, he earned a $1 million paycheck very early on in his career for his role in Mad Max.
Since then, a large number of his films have been major blockbusters, including the Lethal Weapon movies, Braveheart, The Patriot, and M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs (for which he earned a $25 million salary). Gibson made a small fortune with The Passion of the Christ, a film he funded, wrote, and directed because nobody wanted to touch it. It ended up earning $370 million at the box office, plus an additional $75 million from DVD sales.
Gibson owns properties all around the world, including his own private island in Fiji, which he purchased for $15 million.
9. Adam Sandler
Net worth: $420 million
Comedian Adam Sandler got his start as a Saturday Night Live cast member and eventually transitioned to the big screen. Mostly known for his comedic roles, Sandler is also a screenwriter and producer. Although Sandler commands high pay upfront for his movies, he usually also negotiates a cut from the earnings, which oftentimes doubles the original pay he receives as an actor.
In 2014, Sandler signed a four-movie deal with Netflix for $250 million. In 2020, he signed a second deal with Netflix for an undisclosed amount for an additional four movies. It’s probably safe to say, he made even more than that on the second deal.
10. Amitabh Bachchan
Net worth: $400 million
One of India’s biggest film star is not only an actor but also a film producer, TV host (of the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), and TV presenter. He’s also done voice acting and even had a brief stint as a politician. In addition to his high earnings from acting and producing, Bachchan is also an investor, holding equity in a number of companies, including Meridian Tech, Just Dial, and Stampede Capital.
Bachchan is very active in social issues and has donated much of his fortune to humanitarian causes, including paying off the debts of poor farmers, helping India’s polio Eradication Campaign, and supporting tiger conservation and protection.