DiCaprio, Depp, Sandler Top Forbes List of Highest-Earning Actors

In a curious twist that certainly differs from the typical results, its turns out that two actors who are well-respected for their respective talents — Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp — top this year’s list of highest-earning Hollywood actors, according to Forbes.  The list covers the estimated earnings of the actors after consulting “agents, lawyers, producers and other industry insiders to come up with an estimate for what each actor earned between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2011.”

DiCaprio — who ranked #5 on the list last year — swiped the top position from Depp, who topped the list last year, at $77 million and $50 million respectively.  DiCaprio’s top spot is cemented by appearing in two major hits, Inception and Shutter Island. DiCaprio has yet to appear in a film in 2011 (his only 2011 film is October’s J. Edgar), so it’s unlikely he will be in the top spot again next year.
Meanwhile, in 2010 Depp appeared in The Tourist and lent his voice to Rango.  The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie was not released until the end of May 2011, so it’s likely that this year’s list doesn’t account for much of the earnings Depp received from that movie.

Coming in third is Adam Sandler ($40 million), who appears nearly every year on this list on the strength of popular comedies like Grown Ups and Just Go With It.  Curiously, while a lot of people give Sandler flak for primarily appearing in sophomoric comedies, the Forbes article points out that his more “serious” films like Funny People tend to underperform, so you can’t blame him for making movies like the upcoming Jack and Jill.

I was somewhat surprised to see Will Smith ($36 million) on the list since he actually hasn’t been in any movies since 2008.  However, the article mentions is that most of that cash is entirely Smith’s upfront Men In Black III salary.  Holy crap!  That’s some early paycheck.

Coming in fifth is Tom Hanks ($35 million), who like Will Smith sat out of 2010 except for lending his voice to Toy Story 3, the highest-grossing film of 2010.

As DiCaprio’s rise and Depp’s fall demonstrates, a year can make a major difference in a major Hollywood actor’s earnings.  Nonetheless, I am sure all of us would love to have made only $50 million in the last year!

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