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Johnny Depp Is Hollywood’s Most Overpaid Actor For the Second Year in a Row

Jason Merritt, Getty Images
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Every year, Forbes releases rankings of the highest-paid and highest-grossing actors around the world, but their most interesting list comes a little later in the year when the publication unveils their annual rundown of the most overpaid actors in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, Johnny Depp’s name tops the list for the second year in a row — and yet, sadistic Hollywood executives just keep right on putting him and his big dumb hats in big budget blockbusters.

For those of us (okay, me) who consider Depp to be among the worst actors — if not the absolute worst — in Hollywood, Forbes’ ranking of the most overpaid stars is incredibly validating. The problem with Depp, of which there are many, is that he’s a character actor who became a leading man based entirely on his looks and early career charisma. But he’s still a wacky character actor who should be playing supporting roles, not headlining blockbusters. A little quirk goes a long way, everything in moderation, etc.

So it’s not surprising that Depp, whose sleazy-eccentric aesthetic and compulsive accessorizing has gone long past the point of overexposure, is the most overpaid actor in Hollywood. And it’s hardly shocking that, in recent years, the most successful films featuring Depp have given him smaller roles — like Into the Woods and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (David Yates, it’s not too late to course-correct this casting in the sequel).

To compile their annual list of overpaid actors, Forbes takes the last three films an actor starred in prior to June 2016 (sorry, Fantastic Beasts), with the exception of animated films, movies in which the actor had an “insignificant role,” and films that were released on fewer than 2,000 screens. They subtract the budgets of each from their respective worldwide box office gross for an approximation of the film’s income, then divide that amount by the actor’s reported pay to find the return investment — or how much a film made at the box office for every dollar the actor was paid.

For Depp, that’s an average of $2.80 for every dollar he was paid. Alice Through the Looking Glass earned about $300 million worldwide and just $77 million domestically on a $190 million budget, while Black Mass made about $99 million worldwide on a $53 million budget. Interestingly, Depp’s returns were higher than last year, when he topped the list with $1.20 for every dollar he was paid on films like Mortdecai and Transcendence — and yet, even with $1.60 increase in returns, Depp still managed to top the list again this year.

The top 10 also yields a few surprises, including Channing Tatum, who ranks third despite the major success of Magic Mike XXL; he has Jupiter Ascending to thank for his inclusion on the list this year. Then there’s Julia Roberts, who notably makes far less than her male counterparts, but disappointing returns on Money Monster and Mother’s Day earned her a spot — though she’s much farther down the list than Money Monster co-star George Clooney. (It’s also interesting to note that Roberts is the only woman on this list because even in Hollywood, women earn much less than men for the same work.)

Perhaps most surprising is the inclusion of Leonardo DiCaprio, whose huge salaries drive down the return investment numbers on hit films like last year’s The Revenant. At least DiCaprio, a noted philanthropist and outspoken environmental advocate, is using a hefty chunk of his paychecks for good.

Here’s the full list from Forbes, accompanied by the return amount for every dollar each actor was paid:

  1. Johnny Depp — $2.80
  2. Will Smith — $5.00
  3. Channing Tatum — $6.00
  4. Will Ferrell — $6.50
  5. George Clooney — $6.70
  6. Adam Sandler — $7.60
  7. Mark Wahlberg — $9.20
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio — $9.90
  9. Julia Roberts — $10.80
  10. Bradley Cooper — $12.10

Johnny Depp’s Dumb Hats, Ranked

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