Who Is the Highest Paid ‘Game of Thrones’ Star?
With all the chatter surrounding the premiere of Game of Thrones’ final season, there’s no doubt the show is popular. With great ratings and a strong follower-base, fans may wonder which actors behind their favorite characters make the most bank on the long-running HBO show.
Turns out there’s not one correct answer: there are five correct answers. And it literally pays to be a Lannister. Let’s take a closer look at the cast.
Which ‘Game of Thrones’ actors make the most money?
According to a rundown by Cosmopolitan, five actors each make $500,000 per episode: Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister).
Coming in at the second tier are the real-life BFFs Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, who play Sansa Stark and Arya Stark, respectively. They each make $175,000 per episode according to Business Insider. Also making that much is Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark).
The Game of Thrones clan is actually only about half as well paid as some of TVs other big names. Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead makes $1 million per show, and so do Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), and Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory.
What else do the ‘Game of Thrones’ actors do?
When they’re not wielding swords or dealing with dragons, the Game of Thrones cast is .. sometimes still dealing with dragons. Harrington performed in the latter two of the three How to Train Your Dragon movies, but he’s also known for his work in Pompeii. For his part, Coster-Waldau appeared in Oblivion and Gods of Egypt.
Clarke has appeared in several high-profile films, including Terminator: Genisys, Me Before You and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ditto Peter Dinklage, whose movies include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Elf. Heady is well known for the 300 movies and, like Clarke, she took a turn playing Sarah Connor in the Terminator TV series. Her most recent appearance was in the wrestling drama Fighting with My Family.
Turner followed in Dinklage’s footsteps by appearing in the X-Men movies, and in this summer’s Dark Phoenix, she’s front and center as the powerful but tormented mutant Jean Grey, Williams has appeared in The Falling, Cyberbully and The Book of Love. Hempstead Wright has performed in The Boxtrolls and The Awakening.
Is there a pay gap on ‘Game of Thrones’?
In the age of “Time’s Up” and “Me Too,” much has been made of closing the pay gap between male and female performers. Emmy Rossum of Shameless held out for a raise to get paid equally to William H. Macy, and she pulled it off –- with Macy’s support –- before leaving the show this year. Netflix’s The Crown gained notoriety because Queen Elizabeth herself (Claire Foy) was paid less than Matt Smith’s Prince Phillip. That’s not exactly mirroring real life.
Game of Thrones has had to contend with the gap as well, if less dramatically. Although Turner’s star is clearly rising, she was philosophical about getting less money than at least one of her co-stars.
She told Harper’s Bazaar: “Kit got more money than me, but he had a bigger storyline.”And for the last series, he had something crazy like 70 night shoots, and I didn’t have that many. I was like, ‘You know what? You keep that money.'”
Clarke was a bit more fortunate, telling Variety: “On Game of Thrones, I have always been paid the same amount as my male co-stars. It was my first job and I was not discriminated against because I was a woman, in my paycheck.”