Skip to main content

Hollywood paychecks don’t always make sense. Some actors make a killing on movies that ultimately turn out to be flops, while others take home smaller amounts for movies that turn out to be sleeper hits. It might not be fair, but that’s show business.

Still, the most underpaid actor might surprise fans, considering he’s led movies to numerous award nominations and even some wins. Ryan Gosling, of La La Land fame, is actually the most underpaid actor in Hollywood, based on data from CashNetUSA

Ryan Gosling poses for a photo
Ryan Gosling attends the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival | Toni Anne Barson/FilmMagic

Ryan Gosling makes an average of $2 million per movie 

Despite being one of Hollywood’s biggest names, Gosling makes an average of $2 million per movie. Compare that to Adam Sandler, one of Hollywood’s most overpaid actors according to the same study. Sandler makes around $20 million per movie, with much smaller returns in terms of ratings. 

The study looked at the ratio of profit to dollars spent on movies. The ROI is an indicator of how well the movie did, and therefore how much money the actor made a studio.

Gosling had one of the highest rates of return of all the actors in the study, despite his relatively low average salary. For every dollar studios spend on Gosling’s movies, they make an average of $636 back.

Sandler, on the other hand, gets a paycheck that’s 10 times higher than Gosling. But his return is more than 60 times lower. For every dollar studios spend on Sandler’s movies, they get back an average of about $10. 

Some stars are compensated fairly

While the study was a stark look at Hollywood’s unfair payment practices, there were some stars who were earning their keep. Some stars have fair pay in comparison to the ROI of their movies, according to the study.

Tom Hanks, for example, earns around $29 million per movie, and he earns the studio $714 per dollar spent. He has one of the fairest average salaries in Hollywood, and one of the highest. 

Interestingly, actresses seemed to be underpaid in the study. Most of the highest-paid stars were men, even though there were a fair amount of women pulling their weight in the ROI department.

Jennifer Lawrence, for example, had one of the highest ROIs in Hollywood, at $738 per dollar spent. But her average salary is only $10 million per film. She’s bringing in a bigger check than Gosling, but she’s also making more money for studios. 

Despite the fact that he is underpaid, Ryan Gosling’s net worth isn’t suffering 


Ryan Gosling Was Almost Cast on ‘Gilmore Girls’: Why Didn’t It Work Out?

There are more factors that go into salary that the study does not take into account. The study only looked at reported salaries, which may not include money earned from back-end points.

Gosling could just be setting up his contracts differently from other actors, and requesting more profit split from producers. Back-end points mean that part of a movie’s earnings are split with stars, based on how many points they negotiate.

Gosling’s movies do well, so it would be in his best interest to negotiate a smaller salary for a bigger portion of the profits. He could end up earning more that way per movie than other actors who take big up-front salaries. 

Gosling doesn’t seem to be doing too bad, so it’s likely his low average salary isn’t the whole story of his Hollywood compensation. He has an estimated net worth of around $60 million.

That might not sound too bad to the average person, but Sandler has a net worth of around $420 million. Of course, Sandler also writes, produces, and stars in his movies.