It pays to be Iron Man.
Between June 2012 and June 2013, Iron Man 3 and Avengers star Robert Downey Jr. netted an estimated $75 million, nabbing him the No. 1 spot on Forbes‘ list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors. Unlike the Celebrity 100 List, this one is all about money, something that Downey knows a lot about recently. The Iron Man trilogy has grossed over $2 billion while The Avengers is now the third-highest grossing film ever.
A decade ago, if you had said that Downey would be King of Hollywood, you probably would have been met with laughter. Even though he appeared in some well-regarded projects — even receiving a Golden Globe for Ally McBeal and an Oscar nod for Chaplin — his drug abuse and erratic behavior was well documented and prevented studios from investing too heavily in his projects. He soon cleaned up, bounced back, and reinvented himself with his career-making turns in Iron Man and Tropic Thunder.
Downey Jr. reportedly earned $50 million for his role in The Avengers alone, which might seem like a lot. But just ask yourself the question: “Would I have seen it without Iron Man?” As Forbes says, “While the film was nominally an ensemble piece, there was no doubt about who was the real star of the show. As Tony Stark, Downey mixes arrogance, humor and a hint of vulnerability to create a modern-day superhero everyone loves. While it’s probably possible to replace Chris Evans as Captain America, no one else could possibly play Tony Stark.”
Rounding out the Top 5 on the list were Channing Tatum ($60 million, thanks to self-financing the unexpected blockbuster Magic Mike), Hugh Jackman ($55 million), Mark Wahlberg ($52 million) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ($46 million).
Leonardo DiCaprio collected $39 million in a relatively quiet year for him, and even after some major duds, Adam Sandler was able to snag the No. 7 spot with a cool $37 million. Last year’s champ Tom Cruise ($35 million), Denzel Washington ($33 million) and Liam Neeson ($32 million) complete the top 10. Not on the current list after recent misfires… Johnny Depp and Will Smith.