Britain has produced some of the most iconic films of all time - from the multi-billion pound Bond and Harry Potter franchises to screwball comedies like Mr. Bean and Borat. But the UK is responsible for some of the world's greatest (and highest paid) actors too.
British cinema continues to grow year on year, and new stars are coming up the ranks with every new release, and so the highest earners in the UK is set to change in the months, years, and decades to come as younger British film stars like John Boyega, Taron Egerton, and George MacKay supplant the old guard.
Although talent doesn't necessarily always translate into big money, it's hard to earn millions as an actor if you don't pull in audiences. With a combined net worth of around £1 billion, these are the top 10 richest British actors as of 2023:
Sacha Baron Cohen: $170 million (£134 million)
Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is a surprising name to top the list of richest British actors, given that he found fame on his cult comedy series Ali G, and movies like Borat and Brüno. However, his films, despite being made on relatively low budgets have proven to be huge hits.
Borat grossed more than $262 million globally off an $18 million budget, and the sequel, Subsequent Moviefilm was watched by an estimated 6 million people within a week of its release on Amazon Prime Video. He also appeared in the popular Madagascar film series which has grossed more than $1.5 billion at the box office.
According to Parade, Cohen was paid $4.25 million for Borat, $8.47 million for Brüno, $17 million for The Dictator, plus 30 percent of box office gross - and he reportedly made an eye-watering $80 million for the Borat sequel, almost 20 times his pay for the first film.
Sir Anthony Hopkins: $160 million (£129 million)
One of three ‘Sirs’ on this list, Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins has amassed a fortune from an acting career that has spanned seven decades. It is believed that Hopkins now generally commands a rate of $20 million per film, but lowered this to $10 million for the role of Odin in the Thor franchise because he wanted to be involved in the films.
It’s unknown how much he made for his now most iconic role as Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar, despite appearing for just 16 minutes in the 2-hour film. We do know that he was paid a handsome $15 million for reprising the character in the sequel Hannibal, and a further $20 million for the prequel film Red Dragon.
Rowan Atkinson: $150 million (£121 million)
Rowan Atkinson is best known for his comedy roles, having become famous for his roles as Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and Johnny English, and these projects have served him well. The star made around £9 million from Mr. Bean through the success of the 1990s series which was sold internationally, as well as the animated show and films.
He also owned a 1997 McLaren F1 which he crashed twice but still managed to sell for a cool $12 million in 2015. Whilst not appearing in films as frequently, Atkinson hasn’t left the screen entirely - last year he starred in Netflix comedy Man Vs. Bee, which saw more than 18 million hours streamed across its opening weekend. He also has more of Mr. Bean in the pipeline, with as yet untitled new series currently in pre-production.
Hugh Grant: $150 million (£121 million)
The original British fop, Hugh Grant became famous in the ‘90s for his roles in a string of romantic comedies including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Mickey Blue Eyes. Though he was paid just $100,000 for Four Weddings in 1993, by the end of the decade his status had grown and he commanded $7.5 million for Notting Hill.
Now something of a silver fox, Grant has appeared in several similar roles, playing an eccentric millionaire in Guy Ritchie flicks The Gentlemen and Operation Fortune. The star is now reckoned to earn around $10 million for leading roles and $5 million for supporting parts - though he reportedly took in $300,000 for his latest film appearance in Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.
Daniel Radcliffe: $120 million (£96.5 million)
Still best known as the Boy Who Lives more than a decade on from the last Harry Potter film’s release, it was the Wizarding World franchise that made Danielle Radcliffe most of his fortune. Though still nowhere near as rich as Harry Potter author JK Rowling (whose net worth is estimated at £800 million) Radcliffe’s pay rose from just under £1 million for the first film to £40 million for the two-part finale - he is estimated to have made around £80 million from the franchise.
However, in the years since The Deathly Hallows, he has continued to add to his fortune with leading roles in The Woman in Black, Swiss Army Man, Imperium and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Additionally, his theatre production film Gilmore Jacobs is worth over $10 million, and Radcliffe also has an extensive property portfolio, including three New York homes, valued at over $11 million.
Christian Bale: $120 million (£96.5 million)
Christian Bale is best known for his role as superhero Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy. He made $9 million for Batman Begins, $30 million (including a $20 million performance bonus) for The Dark Knight, which is widely considered to be the best superhero film ever made, and $15 million for The Dark Knight Rises.
Since then the star pivoted from DC to Marvel, taking $10 million for his role as villain Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder. However, big paydays weren’t always guaranteed for the star - he revealed that for his lead performance in 2000 horror thriller American Psycho he was paid ‘the bare minimum’ - less than his makeup artists - because no-one other than the director wanted him to take on the role.
Robert Pattinson: $105 million (£84.5 million)
The Twilight star has done a lot to shake his sparkly image in the years since appearing in the franchise which he apparently hated, but there’s no doubt that the movies made him a lot of money. He made $2.5 million plus box office bonuses for the first film, which eventually grew to $25 million for later instalments, and again to $40 million each for the final two films. This means that Pattinson made more from Twilight than Radcliffe did from Harry Potter.
And Pattinson also made money off Harry Potter himself, having appeared as Cedric Diggory in the fourth film. The actor now flits between major blockbusters like 2022’s The Batman, for which he was paid $3 million, and low budget independent films like Good Time, which had a total budget of less than Pattinson’s Batman salary.
Sir Michael Caine: $85 million (£68.5 million)
An icon of 1960s and ‘70s British cinema, Michael Caine has starred in classics including Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job, Battle of Britain, and Get Carter. As Zulu was Caine’s breakout role it’s not surprising that he didn’t earn all that much from it, but his $4,000 salary comes as a shock considering how big a star he became. Later in his career he was able to wrangle much higher salaries for a lot less work - he took $1.5 million for the schlocky horror sequel Jaws: The Revenge, for which he spent just one week shooting.
Caine also starred alongside Bale as Alfred in the Dark Knight films, though his pay for the role is unknown. The 90 year old actor announced in 2021 that he was retiring from acting but seems to have had a change of heart - he starred in historical drama Medieval last year and has two upcoming projects - The Great Escaper, and Now You See Me 3 - in the works.
Jude Law: $78 million (£63 million)
The role that put Jude Law on the map was that of Dickie in Matt Damon drama The Talented Mr. Ripley, and he banked $745,000 for it, but this sum is peanuts compared to the star’s later earnings. He took home $10 million for the American Civil War drama Cold Mountain and around $9 million for playing Watson in the first Sherlock Holmes film.
Law made his debut into the Wizard World, playing a young Dumbledore in the third Fantastic Beasts film, for which he will have been paid several million. A planned fourth and fifth film are yet to be confirmed but if they go ahead and Law returns as Dumbledore they will add even more to his fortune. He is also due to appear in a third Sherlock Holmes film and is unlikely to make less than the $9 million he took for the first movie.
Sir Ian McKellen: $75 million (£60.5 million)
Forever associated with the Lord of the Rings for his definitive performance as the wizard Gandalf in the Peter Jackson trilogy and Hobbit prequels. He earned around $14 million for the first two Lord of the Rings films and an unknown amount (likely several million) for Return of the King. Ten years later he added around $8 million to his fortune for the Hobbit trilogy, which he filmed over a year.
Other big money roles for the star include the X-Men franchise in which he played supervillain Magneto, Mr. Holmes, and The Good Liar. As well as making money from movies, McKellen also owns a pub, The Grapes, in London, and Gandalf’s staff hangs behind the bar.