Thursday, April 22, 2021

Fun with Top-Grossing Actors

My source of information may not be very reputable: It was the answers to a Sporcle quiz on which I scored only 26 percent. The object was to name, in something like 15 minutes, as many as you can of the top 300 money-earning actors in the first 100 years of the film industry – between 1911 and 2011 – in gross, non-inflation adjusted dollars. Even dispensing with the dollar amounts, which are considerable (ranging from almost $1.3 million to over $5 million per actor), I found the answers to be an interesting mix of people I'd expect to see there and names whose presence really surprised me. So, just for the fun of it...

These people you'd pretty much expect to find high on a list like this, right? (1) Samuel L. Jackson. (2) Tom Hanks. I mean, these are blockbuster stars. But already (3) is Frank Welker. I mean, who? Frank Welker, the voice actor best known for playing Fred on Scooby-Doo. He's been in a bunch of other stuff. I mean, like, 860 credited roles, including characters in the Transformers franchise. Though he's had a few live action roles, he's mostly a voice actor. And he's grossed almost $4 million. How about that? Those ads showing up on Facebook offering careers in voice acting are starting to look good, aren't they?

(4) is John Ratzenberger, whom many of us still remember as Cliff on Cheers. More recently, he's been serving as voice talent in pretty much all of the Pixar animated features.

We go back to a couple more that are no big surprise: (5) Harrison Ford. (6) Eddie Murphy. And then there's (7) Warwick Davis. The little guy makes it to the top 10! Davis, of course, played multiple magical characters in the Harry Potter films and was also the hero Ewok in the Star Wars movies.

(8) is Hugo Weaving – also not a big star, really, but he's been a principal cast member in several blockbuster franchises, including the Lord of the Rings and Martix trilogies.

(9) Tom Cruise is no shocker. But the fact that (10) is Alan Rickman kind of blows me away. Best known as a villain in Die Hard and Snape in the ensemble cast for Harry Potter, he crushed his D.H. co-star (14) Bruce Willis in these rankings. Does this mean nice guys really do finish last?

(11) Morgan Freeman, (12) Gary Oldman and (13) Robin Williams clearly deserve to be high on this list, even without having played action heroes. (15) Johnny Depp is the sort of celebrity who just has to be up there. But then you get good old (16) Robbie Coltrane, a.k.a. Hagrid from the Harry Potter films. (17) James Earl Jones, a.k.a. voice of Darth Vader. (18) Maggie Smith, a.k.a. Prof. McGonagall. That's six Harry Potter stars in the top 20 (counting Fantastic Beasts as an extension of the franchise).

(19) Owen Wilson and (20) Cameron Diaz represent comedy. Just think about it: A guy in the top 20 list of top-grossing actors tried to kill himself.

(21) John Cleese is there, probably mostly because of Monty Python but a touch of Harry Potter doesn't hurt. (22) Timothy Spall – a.k.a. Harry Potter's Wormtail. (23) Tom Felton - a.k.a. Harry Potter's Draco Malfoy. We're up to nine Harry Potter castmates now, kiddies.

(24) Matt Damon. (25) Helene Bonham Carter - a.k.a. Bellatrix LeStrange. (26) Kathy Bates. She's in this league? She's done quite well. Off the top of my head I can think of The Blind Side, Fried Green Tomatoes and Misery for her career. Respectable work. But wow!

(27) is Michael Gambon, a.k.a. Dumbledore from the third Harry Potter movie on. (28) Ben Stiller. (29) Robert De Niro. (30) Frank Oz. Yes, Miss Piggy! (31) Jim Carrey. (32) Dustin Hoffman. (33) Julia Roberts. (34) Liam Neeson. (35) Jason Isaacs – who now adds Star Trek stardom (Capt. Lorca from Discovery) to his Harry Potter creds as Draco's dad. (36) Will Smith. (37) Willem Dafoe. (38) Devon Murray. That's Harry Potter's roommate Seamus to you. My running count of Harry Potter cast members on this list reaches 13.

(39) Sigourney Weaver. (40) Emma Watson - Harry's friend Hermione. (41) Julie Walters – Harry's future mother-in-law, Molly Weasley. (42) Geraldine Somerville - you may not know it, but she played Harry's mum, Lily. (43) Michael Caine. (44) John Travolta. (45) Richard Griffiths – Harry's Uncle Vernon. (46) Daniel Radcliffe – at last, the Boy Who Lived himself! And only the 18th Harry Potter cast member from the top!

(47) Orlando Bloom, a.k.a. Legolas from the Lord of the Rings franchise. (48) Rupert Grint, a.k.a. Harry's pal Ron. (49) Josh Herdman. Who?! Well, he played Draco's crony Goyle in all eight Harry Potter movies. How could you forget? A tiny, almost silent role to be sure, out of a career that hasn't exactly stood out otherwise; but he's earned almost $2.4 million. It's good work if you can find it.

(50) Matthew Lewis, a.k.a. Harry's friend Neville. (51) James Phelps and (52) Oliver Phelps, actual twins who played Ron's older twin brothers Fred and George. (53) Bonnie Wright, as their sister Ginny. That's 24 of those Potter people so far.

(54) Kenny Baker was R2-D2 in the Star Wars films. He did pretty well for an actor known for neither his face nor his voice. (55) Geoffrey Rush. (56) Mel Gibson. (57) John Turturro. (58) Christopher Lee - my, aren't comics and character actors doing well! (59) Mark Williams - that's Molly's husband Arthur Weasley, you know; Potter 25.

(60) Nicolas Cage. (61) Clint Howard – Ron Howard's character actor brother, who hasn't had what I would exactly call a string of starring roles. (62) Dan Aykroyd. (63) Bonnie Hunt. (64) Whoopi Goldberg. (65) Jim Cummings. Who?! He's another voice actor, known for Pooh, Tigger and the Tasmanian Devil.

(66) Gene Hackman. (67) Jon Voight. (68) Anthony Daniels – that's C-3PO from Star Wars. (69) Steve Buscemi – doing better in real life than the characters he plays. (70) Mike Myers. (71) William Fichtner, a character actor you'd probably recognize if I showed you his picture but not the household name his placement on this list would suggest.

(72) Jack Black. (73) Ian McKellen, buoyed by both his X-Men and Lord of the Rings roles. (74) Brad Pitt. (75) J.K. Simmons, who only adds an Oscar statuette to what I said about #71. (76) Tommy Lee Jones. (77) Alec Baldwin. (78) John Hurt – who, besides many other great roles, played Ollivander in the Potter films; Potter 26.

(79) Jon Favreau, who's been in some blockbusters to be sure, but I wonder how they segregated his earnings as a director from his acting income? (80) Adam Sandler. (81) David Bradley - Filch (Potter 27). (82) Michael Clarke Duncan. (83) Ralph Fiennes - Voldemort (Potter 28). (84) Paul Giamatti. (85) Wallace Shawn - Vizzini in The Princess Bride and Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If it weren't for Jason Isaacs, I'd be able to say how appropriate it is that the top-earning Star Trek actor played a Ferengi.

(86) Shia LaBeouf. (87) Danny DeVito. (88) Chris Ellis. Who?! I don't know, but he's been in the cast of a lot of big movies, like My Cousin Vinny, Apollo 13, Con Air, Armageddon, October Sky, Catch Me If You Can, etc. (89) Julie Andrews. (90) Cheech Marin. Wow, there's a juxtaposition you don't see every day. (91) Adrian Rawlins. Who?! Why, that's Harry Potter's dad! (Potter 29).

(92) Alfred Enoch – Harry's roomie, Dean (Potter 30). (93) Cate Blanchett. (94) James Cromwell. (95) Bill Paxton. (96) Anthony Hopkins. (87) Elijah Wood. (98) Rob Schneider – whose appearance in the top 100 is proof that there's no justice in the world. (99) Christopher Walken. And (100) Natalie Portman. I'm not going to go through all the numbers from 101 to 300, and you're welcome. But I'll note, since I'm on a "Look how many Harry Potter cast members are on this list, I bet there's a connection" tear, I'll mention them as well as some miscellaneous "Who?!" names.

(101) Brendan Gleeson, a.k.a. Mad-Eye Moody. (104) Jim Broadbent, a.k.a. Horace Slughorn. (106) Kevin Dunn. Who?! Some guy who's been in a bunch of successful movies, like Dave and Transformers (playing Shia LaBoeuf's dad). (108) Keith David. Who?! He was the imam in Pitch Black and was also in Armageddon and a bunch of other stuff. (117) David Cross is known for TV's Mr. Show and Arrested Development. (127) Marton Csokas was Celeborn, Lady Galadriel's husband, in The Lord of the Rings. (129) Bill Nighy, a.k.a. Mr. Scrimgeour (Potter 31).

(130) Martin Klebba - he played a pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. (145) Bill Nunn, whose picture I'm gonna put right here because I don't know what to tell you. (153) Tracey Walter, a scruffy-looking guy who, like Steve Buscemi, has done better in life than the characters he usually plays. (160) Wayne Knight, a.k.a. Newman on Seinfeld. (163) Jamie Waylett, who I believe was Draco Malfoy's crony Crabbe (Potter 32).

(177) Philip Baker Hall – another character actor of whom I can only remind you by showing you his picture. (178) Fiona Shaw – Harry's Aunt Petunia (Potter 33). (181) Kevin McNally, also of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. (190) Bernard Hill was King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings movies. (191) Conrad Vernon is a voice actor known for roles in DreamWorks animated features, like the Gingerbread Man in Shrek. (212) Afshan Azad was one of the Patil twins at Hogwarts (Potter 34). (213) Katie Leung was Hogwarts student Cho Chang (Potter 35).

(228) Xander Berkeley played "Red John" (the serial killer nemesis of the title character) in TV's The Mentalist. He's also played roles on 24, The Walking Dead and in some pretty big movies. (239) David Thewlis was Prof. Lupin at Hogwarts (Potter 36). (244) Peter Mayhew was Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies. (246) Robert Pattinson, whose career has really taken off post-Harry Potter, did play Cedric Diggory and so qualifies as Potter 37.

(250) David Schofield is another Pirates of the Caribbean who, while not a household name, can probably afford multiple households of his own. (259) Harry Melling was Harry Potter's cousin Dudley (Potter 38). (260) Chris Rankin is best known as the Weasley brother Percy (Potter 39). Down in this region of the list, where we also find such names as (261) Bill Pullman, (262) John Malkovich and (263) Dwayne Johnson, here's (264) Verne Troyer, who appeared as both Dr. Evil's Mini-Me and a Gringotts goblin (Potter 40).

(276) Brian Doyle-Murray is a gravelly-voiced character actor who has frequently co-starred with his brother, (136) Bill Murray. (283) Richard Kind plays the quintessential sit-com nebbish in such shows as Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but has also starred in A Serious Man and voiced a number of Pixar animated characters. (284) David Wenham - Seriously! Who? - was Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and has scored roles in several other blockbusters, like Van Helsing, 300 and one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Finally, wedged between (298) Nathan Lane of The Birdcage and (300) Mark Hamill of Star Wars is (299) Imelda Staunton, who apparently hasn't suffered financially from playing the most hated character in the Harry Potter franchise: Dolores Umbridge. Unless I missed my counting, that makes 41 Potterites who made it into the top 300 gross-earning actors of all time. How do you like that, eh?

EDIT: I left off (205) William Melling, because I'm not sure, but he might be the kid who played Nigel in a number of Harry Potter films. If he is, it's remarkable that he's so high on the list considering that he plays a character who didn't exist in the books!


Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

You forgot that Whoopi Goldberg was in the Star Trek universe--behind Isaacs on the list, to be sure, but ahead of Wallace Shawn.

RobbieFish said...

Oops! Thanks!