Imagine getting paid millions of dollars to pretend to be a superhero, travel to exotic locations, affect public opinion on a myriad of subjects, be surrounded by good looking people all the time, and have people adore you. Sounds like a pretty good gig, no? Well, acting involves a little more that what I have listed above like talent, but it still is a pretty good gig and a great way to earn a living.
There are actors or actresses who not only earn a living acting but have gained plenty of power doing it. By power I don't only mean money but these guys and gals can pretty much write their own ticket. Any movie they are attached to gets green lighted and any role they want comes their way.
Here is my list of the most powerful actors and actresses in Hollywood today in no particular order:
1) Johnny Depp: Depp has been in the game a long time and it has been an unconventional trip. Never one to do the parts that are expected of someone in his position, he has chosen to play misfits and oddballs over his career. There seems to be no interest for him in playing the action hero or romantic lead. For him this non-traditional path has worked quite well. Depp can have any role that he wants but will always keep you guessing as to what that is. Career box office: $5.9 billion
2) Will Smith: Will Smith is one of the most popular actors and his popularity translates worldwide. His reputation is untarnished and he is the master of his own destiny. Is well respected for his tireless work ethic. Career box office: $5.3 billion
3) Robert Downey Jr.: His Iron Man series has completed one of the greatest comeback stories in Hollywood history. Iron Man combined with Sherlock Holmes has given him what few actors have: two concurrent action franchises. Career box office: $2.9 billion
4) Sandra Bullock: She starred in two of last year's biggest films in The Proposal and The Blind Side, went through the awards season with plenty of aplomb and has handled the recent scandal involving her ex-husband with such grace that if weren't firmly in her corner before you are now. After a slow period in her career Bullock is once again calling the shots. Career box office: $ 2.7 billion
5) Leonardo DiCaprio: After shooting to stardom with the mega film Titanic he refused to cash in on its success and take roles in blockbusters. Instead DiCaprio has chosen to make films with the best directors around (Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Danny Boyle, Steven Speilberg) in prestige pictures like Gangs of New York, The Beach and Catch Me If You Can. He has proven that you can at the same time be artistic as well as a success commercially. Career box office: 4.9 billion
6) Ben Stiller: You might be surprised by this one but let me explain…Stiller has two major film franchises (Meet the Parents, Night at the Museum) that have been hits worldwide. He is also a smart producer (Dodgeball: A True Underdog, Blades of Glory) and a successful writer/director (Tropic Thunder, Zoolander). All this makes him the most successful triple threat in all of Hollywood. Career box office: $3.4 billion
7) Angelina Jolie: Jolie is about the only female star who regularly stars in films that bring in $30 million plus on opening weekends Besides being not hard on the eyes and exuding intelligence in whatever she does, the lady is the only legitimate female action star. Career box office: $2.5 billion
8) Brad Pitt: Throughout most of his career Brad Pitt has made choices that are not typical of someone with his good looks. That has resulted in him gaining plenty of street cred in the industry and gotten him two Oscar nominations to boot. While his films do not always do well at the box office in the United States he makes up for that with his successful overseas numbers. Pitt also produces films like Eat Pray Love. All this plus he is one half of the most famous couple in the world with Angelina Jolie. Career box office: $5.1 billion
9) Adam Sandler: Though the critics do not love his films the ticket buying public does and that is really what counts. Sandler has a success rate at the box office that other actors would die for. His films are consistently over the $100 million mark. Career box office: $2.7 billion
10) Meryl Streep: The best actor of them all has to be on the list to have it taken seriously. Hollywood's "greatest living actress" also has been doing well at the box office. Her talent plus her range – she has proven she can do anything from drama to musicals to romantic comedies – equal a box office pull that actresses half her age would die for. Career box office: $3.1 billion