Margot Robbie’s iconic performance in the lead role of Barbie has ensured that there is a place for a woman on the list of highest paid movie stars of 2023, the rest of which are, shockingly, all men!
The summer of 2023 has seen crowds return to the cinema in droves to watch Robbie star alongside Ryan Gosling in Barbie or to see Emily Blunt taking a starring role in the Christopher Nolan World War II film, Oppenheimer.
Both movies have been roaring successes at the box office, helping Hollywood’s recovery from the hammer blow that COVID-19 dealt to its coffers during the previous three years.
It is no surprise that millions of Hollywood dollars go to the world famous names who star in the biggest movies every year, but it is hard to believe that in this day and age the likes of Zendaya, Anya-Taylor Joy and Millie Bobby Brown are not earning salaries at least on a par with their male counterparts.
Even with the likes of Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Dwayne Johnson and Will Ferrell not included in this year’s list due to all four having been involved in significant 2022 releases, Robbie is the only woman to have grabbed a place on the list.
Let’s take a look at who else has been earning the big bucks in Hollywood in 2023 according to figures published in Variety magazine, plus more about the movies that got them on the gravy train.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – $30 million
It’s hard to imagine Hollywood without Leonardo DiCaprio in it after three decades of watching the Los Angeles-born actor star in some unforgettable movies. During that time, DiCaprio has starred in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Titanic (1997), The Departed (2006) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), climbing his way to the very top of the industry and becoming one of its best-paid stars. This year he appears in Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese and due for release in October 2023, landing DiCaprio, who is now 48 years old, a cool $30 million.
2. Brad Pitt – $30 million
Another Hollywood household name, Brad Pitt has been well known to movie lovers ever since his role as a convicted robber in legendary road movie Thelma & Louise back in 1991. Since then, he has landed roles in everything from epic family sagas like Legends of the Fall (1994), to spiritual travel movies like Seven Years in Tibet (1997), to romantic fantasy films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). These titles and more have helped boost Pitt’s earning power over the years and in 2023 he is pocketing a salary of $30 million for his role in Joseph Kosinski’s as-yet-untitled sports action drama film all about a Formula 1 racing driver.
3. Chris Hemsworth – $20 million
A role in Australian soap opera Home and Away was one of Chris Hemsworth’s early jobs in acting, but these days he is one of the best-paid movie stars on the planet and in 2023 his role in Extraction 2 has landed him $20 million. The Netflix production, directed by Sam Hargrave, follows Hemsworth’s character Tyler Rake on a dangerous commando mission to save the imprisoned family of a ruthless gangster. Hemsworth is no stranger to action films, having risen to global fame for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in 2024 he will be back amongst the action as he stars in George Miller’s prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa.
4. Vin Diesel – $20 million
Born Mark Sinclair and raised in California by an astrologer and a theatre manager, Vin Diesel has come a long way since his stage debut in the children’s play Dinosaur Door, when he was just seven years old. He landed his first role in a feature film as an extra in Awakenings in 1990, and five years later he wrote and directed his own short feature film, Multi-Facial, all about a multi-racial actor’s struggles to climb the industry ladder. His star truly began to rise in 1998 when he played Private Adrian Caparzo in the Steven Spielberg epic war film Saving Private Ryan, but it was after the turn of the century that Vin Diesel became the go-to guy in Hollywood for high-octane action movies like The Fast and The Furious, The Chronicles of Riddick and The Pacifier. In 2023 Vin landed $20 million for his role in Fast X, which is the 10th installment in the Fast & Furious franchise.
5. Tom Hardy – $20 million
Tom Hardy is only 45 years old and yet it feels like he has been around forever, perhaps because we can remember him appearing in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down all the way back in 2001 (which, let’s face it, feels like a lifetime ago!). In the last 20 years he has seemingly turned his hand to all manner of theatrical, televisual and cinematic production, winning awards for his theatre acting in the early 2000s, grabbing the attention of the nation in BBC productions throughout that decade, and then launching a wonderfully successful Hollywood career in films like RocknRolla, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Legend. His 2023 earnings of $30 million are down to his roles in Furiosa and Venom 3, both scheduled for release in 2024.
6. Joaquin Phoenix – $20 million
Fans of Joaquin Phoenix’s masterful method acting have two forthcoming pictures to look forward to as the Puerto Rico-born American actor takes the lead role in the biopic Napoleon and then reprises his depiction of Arthur Fleck in Joker: Folie à Deux. Phoenix has impressed critics with his acting range since his powerful performance as Caesar alongside Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator back in 2000. He played Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk The Line, and gave a moving performance as a man who fell in love with an artificial intelligence system in Her (2013). His exploits in 2023 are said to have earned him $20 million, and at the age of 48 he no doubt has a long and illustrious career ahead of him yet.
7. Denzel Washington – $20 million
With two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and a Tony Award to his name during a career spanning four decades, it is little surprise to see Denzel Washington on this list. Films like He Got Game (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), and Philadelphia (1993) thrust Denzel into the public consciousness of the 1980s and 90s before titles like Training Day (2001), Man on Fire (2004) and American Gangster (2007) earned him the respect of cinema-goers old and young alike in the 21st century. He first took up the role of vigilante Robert McCall in the film The Equalizer in 2014, and in 2023 he will earn $20 million for starring in The Equalizer 3, which is out in September.
8. Jason Momoa – $15 million
A relative newcomer to the upper echelons of Hollywood’s top earners, Jason Momoa got his first break in acting when he successfully auditioned for a role in Baywatch Hawaii, in which he played Jason Loane from 1999 to 2001. Movie roles followed, including the lead in Conan the Barbarian (2011) – a role previously played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 version. Momoa’s fame hit new heights when HBO television series Game of Thrones, in which he played powerful warlord Khal Drago, achieved worldwide success. Since then, he has established himself as an action movie expert, and his performance as Aquaman in 2017’s Justice League led to several spin-offs, including 2023’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which will pocket Momoa $15 million.
9. Eddie Murphy – $15 million
Eddie Murphy played his first solo leading role in the 1984 action-comedy film Beverly Hills Cop, which became the highest-grossing film of that year and the highest-grossing comedy of all time. Given the success of the film, it is little wonder that sequels followed in 1987 and 1994, and now Eddie is working on a fourth sequel slated to be called Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley. Reprising a role he first played at the age of 22 when he is now 40 years older might have posed Eddie a few challenges, but with a $15 million salary in the offing he will no doubt have risen to the challenge.
10. Ryan Gosling / Margot Robbie – $12.5 million each
It is hard to overstate how refreshing it is to see a 33-year-old woman mixing it up with the men on this list, and Australian actress and producer Margot Robbie has worked hard to get there. Another star with soap opera origins, Margot went from playing Donna Freedman in Neighbours to starring in Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy About Time (2013) in the space of just five years, and since then she has played Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, as well as appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. But 2023 has been Margot’s biggest year yet thanks to the spectacular success of Barbie, in which she took the lead role alongside her Ken, played by Ryan Gosling. The pair not only landed $12.5 million each for their performances but also widespread critical acclaim, and a claim to being part of a summer that has revitalised the fortunes of movie theatres the world over.