The 10 Highest Grossing Actors of All Time

From left to right: Hawkeye, War Machine, Iron Man, Captain America, Nebula, Rocket, Ant-Man and Black Widow standing together out of uniform in Avengers: Endgame.
(Image credit: Marvel)

Records were made to be broken and it is no secret that Hollywood, especially, loves to break them at the box office. Being the highest grossing film of all time – a record still currently held by 2015’s revival of the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, according to Box Office Mojo – is an honor beyond words, but only for the people involved since a feature film does not have the capacity for feelings. Thus, I consider holding the record for highest grossing actor of all time to be an even more honorable feat, securing the individual with the notion that audiences love to see their face on the big screen.   

According to The Numbers, the leader of the pack right now is Samuel L. Jackson, which is not hard to believe, considering the Academy Award nominee has been in Star Wars movies, is a staple of the best Marvel movies, and plenty more. However, which movies specifically have assured him this honor and who else can say that their movies have raked in a gargantuan amount of dough throughout their careers? We will answer those questions in our following breakdown of who are the 10 highest-grossing actors of all time, specifically counting movies in which the person appears in a major role and taking their domestic grossing into account.

Still from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

10. Harrison Ford

This spot was previously occupied by former Captain America actor Chris Evans, until Harrison Ford came back to play one of his most iconic characters (out of many) a fifth time in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which would surpass its reported budget in worldwide grosses in 2023. Of course, what earned the Academy Award nominee the top spot on this list at one time was his tenure as heroic Star Wars outlaw, Han Solo, which could have ended with Return of the Jedi had Ford's wish to kill him off been granted then. Now that he has been been added to the MCU as the new Thunderbolt Ross, we expect that the acting veteran will only continue rise in box office glory.

Highest Grossing Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Chris Hemsworth in Thor

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

9. Chris Hemsworth

Fitting how it took playing a god for a man with godly attributes to become a box office god. After making a financially successful debut with a small role in 2009’s Star Trek, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth just needed a blonde wig to resemble Marvel Comics’ depiction of Thor as if ripped straight from the page and implanted into the MCU, leading to an enduring career as an action star.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame.

Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

8. Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is one of the many actors whose biggest financial successes are the Marvel movies (in which he voices Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket Raccoon), but that is not necessarily the role he is best known for. Leading the surprisingly successful R-rated comedy, 2009’s The Hangover, skyrocketed him to the A-list and helped him make box office hits out of films that earned him Academy Award nominations, such as 2014’s American Sniper and his directorial debut, A Star is Born, from 2018.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame.

Tom Cruise's Maverick in Top Gun: Maverick

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

7. Tom Cruise

The story of Tom Cruise is one of redemption, only he had the added benefit of having already been a sensation before his career hit a rough patch in the mid 2000s. However, the daredevil star of popular action thrillers like the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise, especially, would go on to be credited as a savior of the box office with the release of his most successful film to date, 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick – the sequel to one of his previous hits from the mid-1980s.

Highest Grossing Movie: Top Gun: Maverick

Zoe Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: Beyond

(Image credit: Paramount)

6. Zoe Saldaña

Only a handful of actors can claim to be a part of four of the most popular cinematic franchises in history, such as Zoe Saldaña. The Geek Goddess had a small, but memorable, role in 2003’s Pirates of Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, joined J.J. AbramsStar Trek reboot as Uhura, was cast as Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar (whom she would reprise in 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water), and has starred in several Marvel movies as cosmic outlaw-turned-hero, Gamora.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame.

Tom Hanks starring in Forrest Gump, which Robert Zemeckis directed. He will be directed Pinocchio.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

5. Tom Hanks

The everyman actor, Academy Award winner Tom Hanks began his career in offbeat comedies during the 1980s but eventually proved his immense dramatic chops in other great films like Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. It’s his ability to convey pathos and tragedy whilst remaining endlessly lovable that has allowed him to remain one of America’s most beloved actors for the last three decades. I mean, the man can carry an entire movie while talking only to a volleyball. That is acting.

Highest Grossing Movie: Toy Story 4

Chris Pratt in Avengers: Infinity War

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

4. Chris Pratt

Zoe Saldaña’s Guardians of the Galaxy co-star, Chris Pratt, is a celebrity of humble beginnings – having previously been best known for his role in the Parks and Recreation cast as Andy Dwyer. Now, much like Saldaña, he is a key factor of multiple hit movie franchises, which also include the Jurassic World movies (a continuation of Jurassic Park), The LEGO Movie and its sequel, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, for which he voiced the role of Mario in 2023.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

3. Scarlett Johansson

While she had never made a movie that surpassed $100 million domestically before she was cast as Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff in Iron Man 2 in 2020, Scarlett Johansson at least had the advantage being one of the most acclaimed and sought after actors of her generation in the years leading up to landing that iconic role. She also voiced the slithery Kaa in Disney’s live action remake of The Jungle Book from and Ash in Sing and its sequel – accumulating into one of the most successful careers in cinematic history, and not just counting box office returns.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame

Robert Downey Jr. in Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

2. Robert Downey Jr.

This is probably the greatest tale of redemption on this list. Bouncing back from years of addiction and criminal activity, Robert Downey Jr. funneled equal amounts of charisma and real-life tragedy into his portrayal of Iron Man, which ended up making him a household name. The actor’s work outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has cemented the fact that he has an inherent gift for his craft, but it’s the role as genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark that has made him a box office sensation as well as one of the highest paid actors in the world.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame.

Nick Fury in Iron Man End Credits Scene

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

1. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson has been active in Hollywood ever since 1972, but it wasn’t until his role as Jules Winnefield in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction cast that he became THE Samuel L. Jackson. He has made a career out of being endlessly prolific in his work, which has allowed him to involve himself in many great movies and numerous franchises, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars – usually as the chief badass among whatever ensemble he is working with. His absurdly colossal filmography has served him well as the reigning box office champ.

Highest Grossing Movie: Avengers: Endgame.

It’s interesting how the majority of actors on our list can call Avengers: Endgame their highest-grossing film. Of course, when you consider the fact that said 2019 hit is the biggest money-maker in the MCU, and how said franchise is the most popular in cinematic history, it is not much of a stretch.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.