CareerBuilder Menu Search Search

Oscar-Worthy Salaries

Kate Lorenz, Editor

  • Email

Julia Roberts may not have starred in a movie in 2005 -- her last film appearances were in 2004's "Ocean's Twelve" and "Closer" -- but she remains the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, commanding $20 million a film, according to the Hollywood Reporter's annual list of top-earning actresses. And she's not the only one to rake in the big bucks for as little as a few weeks' worth of work.

What are other Hollywood A-listers bringing in? Chew on this:

  • Lindsay Lohan collected $7.5 million for the 2006 romantic comedy "Just My Luck."

  • Nicole Kidman pulled down $16 million for this year's sci-fi release "The Visiting."

  • Johnny Depp reportedly netted $17.5 million for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and will also earn $20 million each of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels.

  • Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx are rumored to be receiving up to $20 million each for the upcoming big-screen version of the 80s TV hit "Miami Vice."

  • Tinseltown's elite can earn multimillion-dollar paychecks, but their on-screen counterparts don't make nearly that much. This year's Academy Award nominees portrayed people working in jobs ranging from part-time store clerk to veteran CIA agent -- not really the jobs that can support the glamorous and fabulous life of a celebrity.

    Here's a look at what the people portrayed in Oscar-nominated roles would earn in present day America:*

    Nominee: George Clooney
    Movie Character: CIA operative Bob Barnes in "Syriana"
    Character's Salary: In 2000, entry-level pay for "clandestine service" ranged from $31,000 to $38,000.

    Nominee: Matt Dillon
    Movie Character: Police Officer Ryan in "Crash"
    Character's Salary: $46,600 annually (average)

    Nominee: Paul Giamatti
    Movie Character: Boxing trainer Joe Gould in "Cinderella Man"
    Character's Salary: $35,880 annually (average)

    Nominee: Philip Seymour Hoffman
    Movie Character: Writer Truman Capote in "Capote"
    Character's Salary: $52,150 annually (average)

    Nominee: Terrence Howard
    Movie Character: Aspiring rapper DJay in "Hustle & Flow"
    Character's Salary: The bottom 25 percentile of earners in this group bring in $9.64 per hour. Hours worked can vary and many jobs may be for the duration of just one day and it is extremely rare for a performer to have guaranteed employment for a period that exceeds three to six months.

    Nominee: Heath Ledger
    Movie Character: Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain"
    Character's Salary: $19,940 annually (average)

    Nominee: David Strathairn
    Movie Character: Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night, and Good Luck."
    Character's Salary: Those in the top 90 percent of earners in this profession bring in an average of $68,880.

    Nominee: Charlize Theron
    Movie Character: Iron miner Josie Aimes in "North Country"
    Character's Salary: $43,700 annually (average)

    Nominee: Michelle Williams
    Movie Character: Housewife and part-time store clerk in "Brokeback Mountain"
    Character's Salary: $11.00 per hour (average)

    Nominee: Reese Witherspoon
    Movie Character: Singer/musician June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line"
    Character's Salary: $1 million-plus. Country singer Faith Hill, whose other half is crooner Tim McGraw, sold 1.5 million copies of her latest album in 2005. The couple, who plans to tour together in 2006, grossed nearly $50 million from their 2000 tour.

    *Sources: BLS; Billboard;; Variety; Forbes.

    Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

    What should you be making? Find out with our Salary Calculator >>

    Last Updated: 22/02/2008 - 1:54 PM

    Article Reprints
    Permission must be obtained from to reprint any of its articles. Please send a request to