Some screenplays require actors to go above and beyond when it comes to delivering dialogue. The early films of Woody Allen or just about any episode of “Gilmore Girls” on television feature characters rattling off lines at a mile a minute, hardly stopping to take a breath.
Yet other movies require actors to rely less on dialogue and more on subtle, physical tools to portray their characters. Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent appearance as Hugh Glass in 2015’s “The Revenant” is one such example. With very few lines of speech, he managed to carry the two and a half hour film and win the Academy Award for Best Actor. These are the most popular Oscar winners of all time.
Saying little, however, does not prevent many of today’s most high-profile acting talent from collecting massive amounts of money. In some cases, Hollywood has doled out as much as $10,000 per word to its favored actors.
Some of these parts simply don’t require much dialogue, such as Johnny Depp’s largely silent character in “Edward Scissorhands.” Others might have more lines than that but collect similarly high pay – if not higher – such as Brad Pitt’s titular performance in “Meet Joe Black.” In both cases, the amount of money paid per word spoken is exceptionally high.
To determine the actors getting paid the most per word, 24/7 Tempo reviewed salary data and word counts for about 2,000 movies. Actors were ranked by the ratio of their total earnings to the number of words of dialogue written for their character or characters in a given screenplay.