If you've had an inkling for a while now that TV star salaries for A-listers like Jennifer Aniston are beginning to skyrocket, you're not wrong. As we step into a time when there are more and more streaming services competing with broadcast networks and premium cable channels, every new prestige show that's looking to build an audience for itself is signing on the biggest names to be found. And, the streamers / networks which host those shows are increasingly willing to pay some very pretty pennies to make sure those actors stay put.
Of course, Jennifer Aniston came close to getting $1 million an episode in the later seasons of Friends, and it's not unheard of for the core casts of other long-running, popular shows to get that million dollar payday. Norman Reedus, for example, has just moved up the ranks on The Walking Dead to get that magical pay raise. The big difference with all of the actors on this list is that we're seeing an influx of these major per episode pay checks for brand new, unproven shows that want top notch talent who will be an asset when it comes time to promote said freshman series.
So, without further ado, here are some of the big names getting $1 million (or more) for each episode of their sparkling new television shows!
Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Well, well, well! Look who's finally come back to TV over a decade after her run as Rachel Green ended on Friends. Apple TV+ entered the streaming game like gangbusters on November 1 with the debut of the service as a whole and The Morning Show, which features Aniston and several other big names in an inside look at those who work in morning television. Clearly, the new streamer was willing to put its money where its mouth was, and handed out big money (reportedly $1.25 million per episode) to bring the movie star / favorite Friend back to the small screen.
Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere)
Speaking of The Morning Show, it's no wonder the series will reportedly cost Apple TV+ around $300 million across two seasons, because Aniston's co-star, Reese Witherspoon got the same $1.25 million payday for her work on the show. And, it's no wonder. Witherspoon is an Oscar-winning name in film and has been for decades. Plus, she was recently on the HBO hit Big Little Lies, and with that show likely done after two seasons, Apple was probably hoping fans would follow her to the new series. The same can, no doubt, be said for Hulu, which is paying Witherspoon $1.1 million for the upcoming drama Little Fires Everywhere.
Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)
As Witherspoon makes out like a (hard-working) bandit on two different TV shows, we can now also count her Little Fires Everywhere co-star, Kerry Washington, among the members of the $1 million club. Washington, who wrapped up her time on the uber-popular ABC hit Scandal after seven seasons in 2018, is getting paid the same salary as Witherspoon. The duo will co-star as mothers who have to deal with some heavy secrets in the potential Hulu hit, and you don't get two stars this popular to headline and not give them the same pay, right?
Nicole Kidman (Nine Perfect Strangers)
Reese Witherspoon seems to be acting as a kind of conduit for cash on this list, as her Big Little Lies co-star, Nicole Kidman, has also gotten herself a big per-episode check for the Hulu drama Nine Perfect Strangers. According to Variety, Kidman will see $1 million for each episode of the drama, which is also based on a Liane Moriarty novel. It's no surprise that Kidman is pulling in such a payday. The Oscar-winning actress has been nominated three additional times, most recently in 2016, and she's been a popular film mainstay for decades.
Jeff Bridges (The Old Man)
You might not have heard of The Old Man, but FX and Hulu are betting that you've heard of Jeff Bridges, because the companies were willing to pay Bridges $1 million per episode to bring this tale to life. The seven time Oscar nominee (who won a trophy in 2010) will star as a man who abandoned his post at the CIA decades before who's been living off the grid, but will have to deal with his past once an assassin comes calling. This is the very first time Bridges has headlined a television show, so it makes sense that FX / Hulu would be willing to shell out major cash to get him on board.
Steve Carell (Space Force)
The only actor currently netting $1 million per episode for working on a comedy, The Office giant Steve Carell is bringing his wacky sense of humor to Netflix for Space Force. The workplace comedy likely can't go wrong in bringing Carell back to the format, as he leads a team of dedicated Americans who work to establish the sixth branch of the armed services. His time on The Office helped turn Carell into a comedy legend, earning him six Emmy nominations, while he's also managed to set himself up as a major film talent and nabbed an Oscar nomination in 2015.
Harrison Ford (The Staircase)
I mean...do we really need more the name of the legend himself for this entry? Joining Jeff Bridges in the first-time-leading-a-TV-show club is Harrison "Han Indiana Solo Jones" Ford for The Staircase, Annapurna Television's series about real life author Michael Peterson, who became the prime suspect in the death of his wife. Ford did appear on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but that was all the way back in 1993 And, while The Staircase is still being shopped to streamers and networks, it's obvious why Annapurna would want to shell out $1.2 million for Ford to headline the drama. You know it's hard to get more prestige than Harrison Ford when casting your show.
Well, while this list is pretty impressive already, there are plenty of other TV stars across streaming, networks and cable who are inching closer to the $1 million marker of per-episode pay. And, you can bet that as more A-list actors from the world of film, or those who helped make other television shows extremely successful, sign on for new series, that the number of those getting the big bucks for their weekly work will increase.