Natalie Portman & Kristen Stewart top Forbes’ ‘Best Actors for the Buck’ list

Natalie Portman

As a companion piece to Forbes’ recent Most Overpaid Actors list, the financial magazine has released its annual Best Actors For The Buck list. It is based upon actors’ earnings as measured against box-office grosses and budget estimates from their last three wide-release films where they’ve played a lead. Thanks in huge part to Black Swan (which was made for $13 million and grossed $329 million) and (to a lesser degree) No Strings Attached, Natalie Portman leads the pack. Natalie’s always done pretty damn well at the box office, and she’s chosen her projects wisely over the past handful of years, so it’s no surprise to see her at the top of this list. She’ll probably be back next year thanks to Thor as well.

Next up? Kristen Stewart. Not only did she score big time with The Twilight Saga movies, but she also lucked out with Snow White and the Huntsman (which was made for $170 million but grossing $400 million). Let’s face it though — nobody went and watched SWATH because of KStew. They went for Charlize Theron as a badass-looking villain, Chris Hemsworth as the strapping Huntsman, and the special effects. Kristen was really just a lip-biting placeholder. Even though KStew has a really bad attitude and it’s hard to root for her continued success, I will say that it’s pretty awesome that the top two slots on this list are occupied by females. Not bad, right? Here’s the top ten:

Kristen Stewart

1. Natalie Portman: Returns $42.70 for every $1 paid.
2. Kristen Stewart: Returns $40.60 for every $1 paid.
3. Shia LaBeouf: Returns $35.80 for every $1 paid.
4. Robert Pattinson: Returns $31.70 for every $1 paid.
5. Daniel Radcliffe: Returns $30.50 for every $1 paid.
6. Taylor Lautner: Returns $29.50 for every $1 paid.
7. Bradley Cooper: Returns $25.00 for every $1 paid.
8. Dwayne Johnson: Returns $22.70 for every $1 paid.
9. Amy Adams: Returns $22.60 for every $1 paid.
10. Kevin James: Returns $22.70 for every $1 paid.

[From Forbes]

The only actors in the top ten who made this list without being part of a virtually fail-proof franchise are Natalie, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Adams, and Kevin James. Although the latter usually stars in movies that nobody should ever admit to enjoying, right? Everyone loves Amy Adams though, and I have a (very) soft spot for Dwayne Johnson. Dude has famously impregnated me through several of his movie ventures, including The Tooth Fairy. God, I am so ashamed.

My guess is that we won’t be seeing any of the franchise-based entrants on this list ever again. Well, Bradley Cooper will probably be back if The Hangover sequels keep happening, and KStew may land at the lower end of the top ten if she ends up doing a SWATH sequel, but sadly, Sparkles has probably had his last hurrah in blockbusters. Hopefully, he’ll fare well in those indies that he has lined up for the next few years, but man, poor Taylor Lautner. That kid is so over.

Kristen Stewart

Natalie Portman

Kristen Stewart

Natalie Portman

Photos courtesy of WENN

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72 Responses to “Natalie Portman & Kristen Stewart top Forbes’ ‘Best Actors for the Buck’ list”

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  1. Amelia says:

    Ohhh, it’s for box office returns!
    I looked at the title and wondered if I had a bit too much Christmas sherry for a minute, because those two are not worth the money when it comes down to talent.
    It is good to see two women at the top but I’m surprised to see Daniel Radcliffe on there. I love him to bits but Woman in Black didn’t do that well, did it?

  2. carrie says:

    how can Nathalie Portman be in the first in this list whereas she doesn’t release a new movie since almost 2 years?

    i’m looking THE ROCK’s last movie.
    … and Amy Adams was the supporting character in her last movies!
    Shia laboeuf was in a ganster movie with jessica Chastain and Tom Hardy but i don’t believe it was a success

    • Mel says:

      I don’t know (and don’t really care) how these returns are calculated, but I am sure the revenue from the highly publicised “Black Swan” is a big part of it.

      Also… Natalie Portman has a really, really, REALLY good PR. In my opinion, there can be no other reason for her winning an Oscar.

      Her acting talent is very modest, and even with a really good director and editor doesn’t always work well. (The “It tastes like heaven” line comeing from her mouth is one of the most cringeworthy wooden performances I’ve seen in my life.)

      I don’t think she is particularly attractive, either. She has regular features, but no perceivable sex appeal.
      In my opinion, obviously.

      I really don’t get her. I don’t.
      Nor do I understand how exactly she got herself such a fabulous PR machine; but she has.

  3. Lulu says:

    I think you underestimate KStew’s fanbase. I am quite sure that Snow White and the Huntsman did very well because of KStew. Love her, or hate her, people want to watch her. That, and the rest of the cast of course. I haven’t seen it myself, but it’s definitely on my list for when it comes out on Netflix.

    • cr says:

      Having seen her in SWATH-and only SWATH-I can assure you I don’t want to see her in anything else.
      That movie looked good, but that was about it.

      • Mila says:

        Actually SWATH earn that much money because of Charlize and Hemsworth. All of my friends watched it because of them. And i also watched it because of them. Everyone i know found her annoying. Emily Browning would have been better choice for Snow white.

      • EmmaV1 says:

        Despite acting ability and unbelievable beauty, Charlize has absolutely no box office pull.

        Her best personal box office hit is Monster which made like 55 million at the box office.

        Let’s be real, Charlize did not pull in the audience for Hancock, Prometheus, etc….she bombed in Aeon Flux, Young Adult, and god knows what else.

    • HotPockets says:

      I thought SWATH sucked with or without K-stew. The best parts were shown in the previews. It was visually stunning, but the script was lackluster and boring.

    • T.C. says:

      IF Kstew had this fierce fanbase her film On The Road wouldn’t be struggling so bad right now. That film is going to flop. Most of the advertising for Snow White was with Charlize Theron’s evil queen character and the cool graphics. At the end it was a lot of Chris Hemsworth and Theron. When I saw the film, Kstew had the least lines of the big three. I don’t see her as the star of this film. Make the sequel with only her returning from the original and watch it do a belly flop.

      • Michele says:

        Same can be said of Pattinson. Cosmopolis and Bel Ami bombed terribly at the box office this year even though he has an even bigger, but also crazier, fanbase than Kristen. His fans get thrown out of Twilight movie premieres by security for threatening bodily harm to Kristen just for being his girlfriend.

    • anneesezz says:

      That’s idiotic. Love her or hate her, people want to watch her? NO! Actually, I will completely stay away from anything she is in because I want to punch her in the face.

    • Lamb says:

      Personally, I think Kristin Stewart is a horrendous actress and it pains me to watch her in movies. My problem is that she happens to be in a lot of the movies I want to see. I admit to watching the Twilight movies, but cringe at the acting. I wanted to see SWATH because it looked cool and again, Kristin was painfully bad. I really am looking forward to On the Road, which unfortunately KStew is in again. Into the Wild is one of my favorites movies and again, she pops up. My husband is positive that I love her, but the sad truth is that she is put in movies I want to see. I would prefer her to not be in them, but she is, which definitely ruins the movie for me a bit. Quit putting her in things and I bet even more people would see the movie!!

    • Emma says:

      The Hollywood Reporter released an article where they explained based on exit polls, people were turned off by Kristen and were there for special effects and Chris Hemsworth (I’m paraphrasing). That’s why I’m finding it hard to believe that a SWATH sequel with Kristen is going forward especially since that $170 million does not include the $100m spent on promotion. Kristen was the weakest link. No way Sanders is getting back his job but his special effects was one of the stronger points.

      Also, On The Road made very little money. They did many premieres and promotional appearances and nothing at the box office.

    • Ali says:

      ” Let’s face it though — nobody went and watched SWATH because of KStew. ” I did. Talk about a big generalization.

  4. Nola says:

    Come on, at least half the Snow white box office came from Kristen Fans. You might not care for her acting or personality but its clear she has fans.

    Plus, as amazing as Charlize is, she hasn’t been solid at the BO and Chris Hemsworth still has to prove his box office prowess.

    So few women are consider Box office gold, why put those few down?

    • rrose says:

      If her fanbase is that big, what’s about her indies ?

    • amy says:

      Most of her indies haven’t been wildly released though.

      When you consider a lot of Kristen’s fans are teens to early 20s, it makes sense that, unless the film has been wildly released, many did not have an opportunity to see it in theaters. Most would be students and so would not have the funds to travel. She’s got many young teen fans as well who would not be able to see some of her harder stuff due to ratings.

      • T.C. says:

        If you look on Twitter there is a whole lot of Kstew fans who travel to LA, London, Paris to see Twilight premieres. If they can travel out of the state or country for a Twilight premiere why can’t they drive an hour away to see her Indies?

        I think the sad truth is Kstew fans are really Bella Swan fans. The average Twilight fan is now age 25 according to stats from the releases of the last film. It’s the same fanbase from 2008 following these films with repeat viewings. If you were 13 in 2008, you are now 17 and can go see an R-rated film. If you were 18 you are now 22 and can drive a couple of hours to see your film. If Twilight was playing two hours away, a Twihard would get somebody to drive her to see that film. The motivation is not there for these fans when it comes to Kstew’s non-Twilight films. So fans of Bella Swan in my book.

    • starsh says:

      Here here! Hating on Stewart is popular on this site, but she does have a huge fan base – it cannot be denied. Also: she sucks in Twilight-type films (that includes SWATH) but is actually very good in indies like Welcome to the Rileys.

      • Cadence says:

        I’ve enjoyed Kristen’s acting since the Panic Room. You can tell the dislike for her on this site by the pictures chosen for this post. Kristen in that vampy dress, and Natalie looking tasteful and on a political podium. I’m sure there were plenty of more presentable pics of Kristen, but then that wouldn’t drive home the idea of how evil she is. Anyway, this list is about bang for your buck, not about taent for your buck. If that were the case, remove Dwayne Johnson asap.

      • c’est la vie says:

        I think Stewart actually posed that way (in effect, it was on purpose!) I don’t know if there are any shots of Portman wearing a sheer paneled dress, or posing like that. Just saying. Also, if you want to keep comparing these two (though its sort of like apples and oranges at this point) Portman graduated from Harvard and Stewart is a self described “girl from the Valley”. Both were in blockbuster series, so there is that similarity, though only Stewart is famous for maneuvering around a mini cooper with her married SWATH director while cheating on her partner from the same blockbuster series. And I’ll admit, the first time I heard of SWATH, it was because of Theron’s name being attached and subsequent pr. There’s also the matter of Portman winning an oscar for Black Swan, while Stewart has not. Like I said apples and oranges (well, sort of anyway). Did I mention that I loved Portman in V for Vendetta?

  5. Maria says:

    i dont have an insight but i just cant believe that they know exactly how much every actor made on a movie. do they really have every salary for every actor on all those movies? the BO numbers are all official but i doubt they really know the detailed salaries.

    (no, im not trying to take away anything from natalie or kristen, this obviously goes for everyone on the list)

  6. Tanguerita says:

    big bucks, maybe. But am I the only one to find it rather scary, how little talent is on this list? Apart from Amy Adams and (under reserve) Portman there are not good actors on it. It’s truly depressing.

  7. mln76 says:

    I cant stand either one of them but Natalie is at least a good actress. I think that from this list only Natalie,Amy,and Bradley Cooper are truly underpaid. The Twilighters will all be knocked down a few notches in the years to come. K-Stew may work but she is gradually going to see her star fade as her fanbase matures and her peers surpass her in acclaim.

  8. madpoe says:

    I’d like to concur, the only reason I went to see SWATH was Theron & Hemsworth, KStew only made me focus even harder on Hemsworth’s arms, well his everything, that and Theron’s Queens scared the be-jaysus outta me.
    I <3 the Rock movies, especially the funny ones. My mom probably keeps him and Kevin James afloat too.

  9. Jenna says:

    Well their paychecks also have to be looked at. They’re not among the most highest paid in Hollywood. They get what? MAYBE 5-7 million a flick I’m guessing?

  10. Meg13 says:

    I’ll just agree with the headline. They’re both worth about a buck (combined).

  11. FirstTimer says:

    These lists are ridiculous like the other lists they come up with. They usually include stats that came from rumor mills without any confirmation with the studios.

  12. pink giraffe says:

    I actually avoid both Natalie Portman (wayyyy overrated in my opinion) and Kristin Steward (ughhhh) like the plague. Even the promise of Chris Hemsworth could not get me to SWATH, although he did get me into Thor, where I ignored Portman, who was pretty forgettable anyway.

  13. Anname says:

    It’s apropos of the movie industry, which is not driven by “movie stars” anymore. More people tend to go to the movies because they like the story, not just to see the star. Lists like these really show how the trend has changed. Just putting a big name in the movie doesn’t guarantee success anymore.

  14. Zelda Fitzgerald says:

    How is Natalie Portman on this list for a movie she filmed over 2 years ago and Jennifer Lawrence is not for The Hunger Games?

  15. Elceibeno says:

    I can’t believe the trampire made so much money darn!

  16. Chordy says:

    I’m not too surprised women give the best returns. They aren’t paid as huge of salaries, so the returns on their salaries will be higher.

    • Elle says:

      THIS. This is what people are missing.

      Amy Adams is a rare talent but she’s also a FEMALE over the age of 30 who is probably severely underpaid for what she’s worth.

      These women don’t have the same bargaining power as most of the men. Crazy as it sounds, even in the year 2012, women still don’t make as much money as the guys do. So it makes sense that a few of the women on this are fly under the radar talents like Natalie Portman or Amy Adams because audiences like them—they have mass appeal—and the studio gets away with short changing them in terms of pay.

  17. Lolitalola says:

    Having two of the most untalented and overrated actresses on the top of whatever list says a lot about what Hollywood actually is, today.

  18. annabelle says:

    I too have a soft spot for Dwayne Johnson. I love that man and have for years and years.

  19. Jeanette says:

    Yeah Shia LaBeouf! I know a lot of you hate him but I’ve loved him since Even Stevens and no amount of douchebaggery will ever change my love for him.

  20. Zelda Fitzgerald says:

    By this logic Chris Hemsworth should be number 1 since he was in The Avengers, Thor and SWATH. That’s almost $2 billion right there (and 3 separate franchises).

    • Mi says:

      Exactly,where’s Hemsworth?This list is ridiculous.

    • Reece says:

      I know, there’s something fishy about this list. And there’s no way RDJ shouldn’t be there for Avengers and Iron Man.

      • Elle says:

        Robert Downey Jr. as a white male actor also probably commands a HUGE salary which means they don’t make as much money because they have to PAY him more.

        This list is about actors who are good investments on your return.

        Downey Jr. made a fortune with Iron Man and Avengers but he also got paid a fortune. Less profit for the studio overall.

        Amy Adams is probably horrifically underpaid at this point which means that if a studio (like Warner Bros. for upcoming Mano f Steel) can get her in the film and then the film grosses a billion dollars….they make even more money.

  21. erika says:


    Don’t know enough of Nat’s roles to comment, except Dark Shadow but YE GAWDS!

  22. erika says:

    in regards to kstew ehhh… “quantity over quality” .

    come on? do they mean ‘best actor’ in terms of need a warm, live, body?

    kstew plays….kstew in EVERY single movie. -

    -lip biting
    -hair tossing out of face w/ hand running through it
    -open mouth when not speaking
    -dead eyes look
    -shrugging shoulders

    a movie starring kstew ‘priceless’? yeah….i’d say there’s not much of a monetary note you could put on it.

  23. KellyinSeattle says:

    I like Natalie Portman but not Kristen Stewart; Mostly, LOVEEEEEEEE Kevin James!!!!

  24. Lesble says:

    This list makes sense somewhat.

  25. Shy says:

    That list is so ridiculous. Lautner, Pattinson, Stewart? Where is Ashlee Green and Kellan Lutz then? Those “superstars” like Lautner and Stewart can’t find any job anymore. Kristen find some small budget movie and then Ben Affleck run away.

    Shia’s career if pretty much over too. Transformes ended. Lawless flopped. Nobody is asking Shia to star in a big movie anymore.

    List is stupid. Twilight actors should not be here. They are nothing without franchise and have zero power at the box-office.

  26. Amy625 says:

    These lists are meaningless. The timeline used is weird. I don’t know why 2011 movies are used for 2012. Also franchises and blockbusters really distort the numbers. Kristen Stewart has only one successful film outside of the Twilight series. She’s just not a draw or making movies that people want to see.

  27. Val5 says:


    yawnnn, another stupid fake list (aka Stew’s pr team move), to make people continue to talk about her and pretend that Stew still has any relevance in HL, who cares? she’s done. like twilight, she was just a phenomenon of mass hysteria without substance, but it’s over. now let’s wait and see how Rob will come out in turn.

  28. Caitlin says:

    Forbes manipulated the list last year in favor of Kristen. They counted two twilight movies for her and only one for Taylor and Rob. They didn’t count The Runaways, WTTR and The Yellow handkerchief for Kristen because they didn’t open wide. What kind of reasoning is that, they didn’t release two twilight films in the same year.

  29. Sofie says:

    I don’t think we have to worry because Kristen Stewart does not have a future in movies. It’s over for her because she has no talent nor charisma. Same for LaBoeuf. They both got lucky and are about to fade away….

    • Mi says:

      But she has strong PR team and good press.That’s the reason many people bought this scandal as”mistake”,because this quote was spread by her PR team.Do you remember this rumor that Kristen was attached to Lie Down in Darkness?It was all BS,but some reliable outlets repeated this as she was casted to play in this movie.

  30. Harry says:

    Forbes methodology is suspect, how come Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth aren’t on this list?

  31. aquarius64 says:

    Putting the Twilight Trio (or any actor in a franchise) on this list is ridiculous. The series is the pull, not so much the actors. I think a fair judgment is seeing if any of their movies make money without the franchise being around, or still fresh in people’s memory. That would determine if they are box office draws.