Accomplishments and Records

Which Actor’s Words Are Worth the Most?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, movies, actors, salaries

We expect successful actors to be paid massive sums to star in our favorite films, but have you ever considered how much they earn, relative to the amount of dialogue they actually speak? Here are the top-earning actors, based on the money earned per word of dialogue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator — $30,687/word

While starring as the Terminator in the 1984 film by that name, Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back.” He made good on that promise in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and was paid $26,576,487.

He spoke 861 words in that sequel, coming out to $30,687 per word.

Each time the Terminator said, “I’ll be back,” Schwarzenegger earned $92,061.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter — $66,606/word

Johnny Depp is one of the most sought-after actors in show business. When he signed on to play the Hatter in the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland, he received $44,026,566.

He spoke 661 words, resulting in compensation of $66,606 per word.

The Hatter’s question, “Have I gone mad?” brought him $266,424.

Keanu Reeves as Neo — $159,393/word

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions both hit the screens in 2003. Keanu Reeves reprised his role as Neo from the first film the year before. He did not have a lot of dialogue between the two films: 638 per movie.

His salary for the two films broke down to $159,393 per word.

When Neo said, “Well, that didn’t go so well,” he earned $956,358 for his effort.

Jack Nicholson as the Joker — $166,101/word

No one can forget Jack Nicholson’s memorable role as the Joker in 1989’s Batman. Despite his relatively-short screen time and mere 585 words of dialogue, he stole the show.

Well, technically he didn’t steal the show — he was more than fairly compensated for his troubles. At $94,244,085 for the deal, Nicholson earned $166,101 for each word he spoke.

His line, “This town needs an enema,” earned him $830,505.


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