Robert Downey Jr. to Chris Pratt, these are the best paid TV stars in Hollywood

Best paid TV actors

The biggest names in Hollywood command some pretty big salaries when it comes to the movies, but what about the small screen. Well, if Variety’s reporting is correct, and we’ve no reason to think it isn’t, it seems there’s plenty of moolah to be made by appearing on television.

According to the esteemed Hollywood trade, Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr. are among the best-paid TV actors. Pratt’s earning an astounding $1.4 million for his Amazon Prime series The Terminal List. HBO, meanwhile, is rumoured to be paying Downey Jr. $2 million for his appearance (and his work as producer) in the Vietnam War series The Sympathizer. Don’t worry, you’ve not missed them. Neither of these TV series has actually aired yet.

Pratt and Downey Jr aren’t the only people laughing all the way to the bank. Downey’s MCU co-star Jeff Bridges reportedly earns $1 million per episode to star in FX’s spy series The Old Man. Kate Winslet, meanwhile, was paid $650,000 per episode for Mare of Easttown, which makes Henry Cavill’s Witcher fee of $400,000 an episode seem kind of paltry. Maybe he needs a new agent?

Here is Variety’s list of estimated star salaries (note these may include a producers fee):

  • Sara Gilbert (The Conners) – $400K/Episode
  • John Goodman (The Conners) – $400K/Episode
  • Laurie Metcalf (The Conners) – $400K/Episode
  • Alec Baldwin (Dr. Death) – $575K/Episode
  • Viola Davis (The First Lady) – $600K/Episode
  • Michelle Pfeiffer (The First Lady) – $600K/Episode
  • Gillian Anderson (The First Lady) – $600K/Episode
  • Pedro Pascal (The Last of Us) – $600K/Episode
  • Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown) – $650K/Episode
  • Ted Danson (Mr. Mayor) – $400K/Episode
  • Jeff Bridges (The Old Man) – $1M/Episode
  • Steve Martin (Only Murders in the Building) – $600K/Episode
  • Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building) – $600K/Episode
  • Angela Bassett (9-1-1) – $450K/Episode
  • Sarah Jessica Parker (And Just Like That…) –  $650K-$750K/Episode
  • Cynthia Nixon (And Just Like That…) – $650K-$750K/Episode
  • Kristin Davis (And Just Like That…) – $650K-$750K/Episode
  • David Harbour (Stranger Things) – $350K-$400K/Episode
  • Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) – $350K-$400K/Episode
  • Brian Cox (Succession) – $400K-$500K/Episode
  • Jeremy Strong (Succession) – $300K-$350K/Episode
  • Kieran Culkin (Succession) – $300K-$350K/Episode
  • Sarah Snook (Succession) – $300K-$350K/Episode
  • Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) – $400K/Episode (Season 1)
  • Chris Pratt (Terminal List) – $1.4M/Episode
  • Jude Law (The Third Day) – $425K/Episode
  • Henry Cavill (The Witcher) – $400K/Episode
  • Bryan Cranston (Your Honor) – $750K/Episode

So what’s the reason for these mega salaries? Well, it’s all to do with streaming services. As every studio tries to launch their own Netflix competitor, there’s essentially a bidding war going on for A-list talent, and those with the deepest pockets get the biggest names.

More interestingly, though, streaming services have actually changed the landscape of TV and film. In the old days, stars could be convinced to take a lower paycheque on the promise they’d receive more money through syndication/home entertainment releases. As streamers have disrupted the DVD market, and TV schedules are a thing of the past, this has led to stars asking for more money upfront to ensure they’re fairly compensated.

Tom Percival

Editor

Updated: Aug 20, 2021


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