Fuelled by tequila, George Clooney tops list of highest paid actors

Star earns $233m from Diageo deal; Scarlett Johansson only woman in Forbes top 10

Highest-paid actor: George Clooney earned $239 million in 2017-18. Photograph: Emma McIntyre/Getty for Turner

Between June 1st, 2017, and June 1st, 2018, George Clooney made more money than any other actor has ever earned in a single year, Forbes magazine has found. The star's film-based enterprises accounted for only a fraction of his income, however, with most coming from the sale of his spirit company, Casamigos Tequila.

Clooney founded Casamigos with Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman in 2013, initially as a way to supply them personally with sufficient quantities of high-quality liquor. The trio are believed to have invested $600,000 (€520,000) each to set up the business. Last year the drinks company Diageo bought the brand in a deal worth up to $1 billion, which Forbes says accounted for $233 million of Clooney’s $239 million (€206 million) income over the 12 months.

"If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion-dollar company, I don't think we would have said yes," Clooney said when the deal was announced, in June 2017. The 57-year-old, who also became the father of twins that month, is best known in the drinks world for his endorsement of Nespresso coffee capsules.

Clooney's booze jackpot bumped Dwayne Johnson, who frequently tops the chart, into the second spot. Johnson, aka the Rock, doubled his earnings year on year, making $119 million (€103 million) from his involvement in multiple blockbusters, including Skyscraper and Rampage. This is the most an actor has ever earned from front-of-camera roles, according to Forbes' estimates, "thanks to giant upfront paychecks and a cut of profits on blockbusters including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A huge social following allows him to negotiate an extra seven figures atop his standard contract for promotion, helping nearly double his 2017 earnings."


Johnson earned almost three times as much as the world's highest-paid woman actor in 2017-18, Scarlett Johansson, whose $40.5 million (€35 million) total Forbes believes derives largely from her involvement in Marvel titles. She is the only woman who would make it into the overall top 10, tying for seventh place with the Bollywood star Akshay Kumar.

Forbes points out that the 10 highest-paid men earned $748.5 million (€647.5 million) between them, before fees and taxes, compared with just $186 million (€161 million) – a quarter of their male colleagues’ income – for the 10 highest-paid women.

Highest-paid woman: Scarlett Johansson earned $40.5 million in 2017-18. Photograph: Krista Schlueter/NYT

Forbes’ list of the world’s best-paid male actors 2018

George Clooney $239 million
Dwayne Johnson $119 million
Robert Downey jnr $79 million
Chris Hemsworth $64.5 million
Jackie Chan $45.5 million
Will Smith $42 million
Akshay Kumar $40.5 million
Adam Sandler $39.5 million
Chris Evans $34 million
Salman Khan $33.5 million

Forbes’ list of the world’s best-paid women actors 2018

Scarlett Johansson $40.5 million
Angelina Jolie $28 million
Jennifer Aniston $19.5 million
Jennifer Lawrence $18 million
Reese Witherspoon $16.5 million
Mila Kunis $16 million
Julia Roberts $13 million
Cate Blanchett $12.5 million
Melissa McCarthy $12 million
Gal Gadot $10 million
– Guardian