Eddie Murphy and Katherine Heigl top most overpaid actors list, and Reese is third

Murphy and his new girlfriend

Forbes has released their list of most overpaid actors, calculated based on the cost of the celebrity’s salary in their last three films compared to how well those movies performed at the box office. The top (under)performers were Eddie Murphy and Katherine Heigl, unsurprisingly. What is surprising are the following actors, at least based on their reputations. The number three slot is occupied by none other than Reese Witherspoon, who had the recent bombs How Do You Know and This Means War. Number four is poor Sandra Bullock, weighed down by All About Steve and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Number five is Jack Black. I guess he had a movie in 2011 called The Big Year in 2011 that cost $41 million and only brought in $7 something million. I don’t remember ever hearing about that film, they must not have promoted it at all. Then in number six we have my favorite whack job, Nicolas Cage. He should occupy a higher spot, but he’s in there and that’s something. Here’s the full list:

1. Eddie Murphy: Returns $2.30 for every $1 paid.
2. Katherine Heigl: Returns $3.40 for every $1 paid.
3. Reese Witherspoon: Returns $3.90 for every $1 paid.
4. Sandra Bullock: Returns $5 for every $1 paid.
5. Jack Black: Returns $5.20 for every $1 paid.
6. Nicolas Cage: Returns $6 for every $1 paid.
7. Adam Sandler: Returns $6.30 for every $1 paid.
8. Denzel Washington: Returns $6.30 for every $1 paid.
9. Ben Stiller: Returns $6.50 for every $1 paid.
10. Sarah Jessica Parker: Returns $7 for every $1 paid.

[From Forbes]

A $5 return sounds decent to me, but this isn’t calculating the other massive production costs, or the cost of the other actor’s salaries. I guess we should rejoice that there will be less crappy movies starring Eddie Murphy, Katherine Heigl, or Adam Sandler. Still, there are actors on there that I love like Denzel and Sandra Bullock. I don’t want their careers to suffer because they made some lousy choices over the past couple years, but it’s not like this list is going to change that. We already voted at the box office and the damage is done.

Also, it’s not like these celebrities aren’t feeling the pinch, very relatively speaking. Both Katherine Heigl and Reese Witherspoon are currently selling their homes, and Eddie Murphy recently joked that he’s retired.

Photo credit: WENN.com and PRPhotos

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

52 Responses to “Eddie Murphy and Katherine Heigl top most overpaid actors list, and Reese is third”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. marie says:

    this is a list I would hate to make if I were them, and I think Eddie has made it 2 yrs in a row? maybe I’m wrong..

    any who, Katherine’s hair looks good there, she should wear it like that more often..

    • RocketMerry says:

      Agreed, totally the worst list to be on top of EVER (for actors).

      I’m disappointed by Katherine’s career, I must admit: she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, the camera loooves her and she is a decent actress (at least on tv). Why the eck is she not working constantly?! I miss her on tv.

      • Sweet Dee says:

        Rumor has it people hate working with her because she’s a super diva bitch. Also, not a good actress.

      • holly hobby says:

        Katie Heigel burned too many bridges to ever resurrect her career in Hollywood. You can be a strung out recovering drug addict and Hollywood would forgive and forget. However, if you are a super opinionated b—ch and basically an ungrateful whiner, you can forget your career.

        Alex Pettyfer is a perfect example.

  2. TheOriginalKitten says:

    LOL @ Eddie Murphy’s “girlfriend”.

    Katherine Heigl actually looks decent in that pic.
    I used to love Adam Sandler but the dude needs to stop making god-awful movies.

    Sorry, I know this is the Bullock Fanclub here at C/B but she is a very VERY mediocre actress. She seems like a nice lady and all but she’s of average talent at best and yes, I saw Crash and The Blindside and I hated both of them.

    *runs and hides*

    • LadyMTL says:

      ITA about Sandra Bullock. She seems like she’s a really fun and nice person but as an actress, I never found her to be all that amazing. Yes, she got good comedic chops but that’s about it, IMHO.

      As for the rest of the list, the only entry that surprises me is Denzel.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Totally agree about her comedic timing-that’s really her strength right there. It also shows in interviews-very sharp/funny woman, she’s just not very good at dramatic roles.

        I too am shocked about Denzel being included.

    • Chatcat says:

      I agree. I think her appeal though isn’t that she is a great actress but that she can entertain. She is fun and has good screen chemistry with whomever she is working with, and sometimes that is enough.

  3. Suzy from Ontario says:

    I’m surprised that Sandra Bullock is so high on that list, especially over some of the ones lower down. I think she’s a good actress and has had some amazing hits. Maybe it’s getting older, although the Proposal and The Blind Side wasn’t that long ago.

    I think getting older has hurt Reese. Her younger films were much more successful but the last few were cringe-inducing as far as casting imo. I think she needs to re-think her game plan.

    I think the other definitely belong on that list.

    • Jayna says:

      I agree about Reese. I did enjoy the Water to Elephants movie, but more so because I thought Rob Pattison was excellent and so was the abusive husband.

  4. Amy says:

    Reese is at an awkward age. She’s too old to be considered for the Natalie Portman-age roles, but too young for the Meryl Streep/Goldie Hawn set. She’s also not sexy or particularly beautiful, which is how I would explain Jessica Chastain (35 years old) or Diane Lane. As a result, her romcoms are really, really bad. I think her career is almost over.

    • Nola says:

      You’re correct, except her male comtempories don’t struggle with this issue. Why is it so hard to make movies about women in their mid 30’s. All these actresses in there 30’s and early forties struggle to find there niche and are shoved to the side for 20 somethings. Jennifer Lawrence shouldn’t be the love interest for Bradley cooper in SLP. Kristen stewart shouldn’t be in talks to be Ben Afflecks girlfriend in Focus. Emma stone and Ryan gosling “-no. Shaileen woodley and Andrew Garfield-heck no. There are so many actresses who could play the love interests to these 30+ actors.

      • lucy2 says:

        You make a great point. There’s sort of a weird limbo for actresses that age, and it doesn’t seem to happen for the men.

    • Christina says:

      I think Reese’s problem (and we’d all love to have her problems!) isn’t so much her age – there are successful actresses in their 30s such as Jessica Chastain or Charlize Theron – but the fact that she’s based her career on a cutesy girl next door image which doesn’t age well. And it’s debatable if she’s a talented enough actress to progress to more serious dramatic roles.

      • kibbles says:

        Some of Reese’s early films are pretty amazing. Back then, she took some creative risks and starred in less mainstream films that have gone on to become some of the most memorable on her resume. I think she became so comfortable after her Oscar win and automatic high salary that she ended up selling out and settling and ultimately being typecasted into silly romcoms. It was her choice. She could have gone the other route and chosen independent or lower budget films that are more critically acclaimed. She chose a higher salary over quality scripts.

      • LAK says:

        Any actresses that get stuck in the ‘cute’ or ‘bombshell’ or ‘girl next door’ slot have difficulty transitioning their careers.

        I have to say that i am disappointed with Reece’s career choices given that she was a very good drama actress the first few years of her career. i thought that pink barbie film was a genius move because it showed she had comedy skills and i think she was really great in it. i never thought she would get stuck in that mould. or that she would continue along that path. However, her problem appears to be money over quality so the good scripts may not be making their way to her.

        I am still mad at Heigl for ruining my favourite pulp fiction series with the risible ONE FOR THE MONEY which she didn’t just star in but also insisted on a producer’s chair so yes, all on her.

        maybe it will be reborn on TV…like BUFFY.

    • stellalovejoydiver says:

      If you look at her Imdb at least 2 out of 5 films seem to be pretty promising, “Mud” the new film from the director of “Take Shelter” with Matthew McConaughey and Micheal Shannon and “Devil´s Knot” with Colin Firth and Dane de Haan. I don´t think it is that she couldn´t get good roles, but that she sold out.

  5. Kim says:

    This list changes every year Drew B and Will F topped the list last year.No. biggie

  6. Dahlia Verlaine says:

    This list is BS. As if it was only the lead actors/actress fault that a movie bombs. How about FORBES does a list of “Most overpaid managers”…yeah, that’s what i thought, they’re too sissy to do that!

    • mercy says:

      Agreed. There are a few names on there that don’t belong, starting with Denzel. He always gives a good performance and he’s more than earned his large salaries over the years.

      • LAK says:

        the list isn’t a judge of talent.

        It’s a judge of financial performance based on last 3 films.

        Just like you would evaluate the stock market.

        If you were a stock market trader, based on that financial information, would you buy, sell or hold his stock?

  7. Sal says:

    “This Means War” technically wasn’t a bomb. Made almost 100 million in profit.

    • Erinn says:

      This Mean War was on Time’s worst movies of 2012 list.

      As someone who was drug to that movie, I agree that it should have been. SO CORNY and predictable; even for RomCom standards. It was rough. But it didn’t do awful at the box office.

  8. CC says:

    Not surprised. A few of those actors seems to play the same part over and over and over and over again.

  9. Kiki says:

    I love Sandra Bullock but “All About Steve” was horrible! I didn’t even finish it… Seriously, it was bad!

  10. Jenna says:

    At least ‘This Means War’ wasn’t a total flop globally. It made up what it needed to and then a little over. But that just makes me happy for Hardy. Ahem.

    But oh my gosh, that movie was terrible. Oy. And why is Denzel up there? Was it because of ‘Safehouse’? I actually liked that movie.

    • mercy says:

      Safe House was one of Denzel’s highest grossing films to date. It was near the 200 mil mark before the DVD was released. He’s been a consistent performer at the box office throughout his career. I can’t figure out why he made this list. Maybe his salary is so huge it works against him?

      • LAK says:

        @mercy – Denzel seems to only make big studio films with budgets that eat into the profits even if said profits look impressive at first glance.

        We could argue that as an actor he isn’t solely responsible for the film BUT the fact is that studio wouldn’t have spent the kind of budget they did without his attachment.

        This list isn’t a comment on his talent.

  11. KellyinSeattle says:

    I can understand Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller being on the list. Jennifer Anniston “SHOULD” be on the list; yes, she brings in the money, but I hate her movies. My 16 year old boy loves all of their movies (barf); their movies are incredibly immature. Eddie Murphy sure is clinging to his “girlfriend”. He does need to “retire” his ego. I’m ambivalent about the Reese, but I love Sandra Bullock. Go Louis!

  12. Apsutter says:

    Eddie Murphy could actually still have a great career if he’d pick some decent projects. He hasn’t been in a good movie in over a decade. Nic cage is on here because of the sheer volume of material he puts out. When you open 50 movies a year there are bound to be a couple flops.

    • & says:

      Actually, Tower Heist was pretty funny. It had the old school, funny, Eddie Murphy though, and not the leaves-falling, tree-talking, whatever he deafulted to over the last decade, Eddie Murphy.

    • holly hobby says:

      Eddie hasn’t been good since Dream Girls. Tower Heist is pretty good but that was an ensemble and he didn’t have to carry it.

      He can do drama. He needs to focus on that.

      • LAK says:

        DREAMGIRLS is the only good film in Eddie’s career since the early 90s.

        In his own words he is not interested in the scripts, only money. And makes his decisions that way.

  13. Babs says:

    I’m quite surprised that Jennifer Aniston isn’t named. Although, I guess this year was lacking in Aniston-heavy films… she would be directly under Eddie Murphy on my list.

    • mln76 says:

      She’s never pulled in a huge paycheck from the studios and has recently taken pay cuts. Back when she was called the highest paid actress she was doing 2 or 3 movies a year to get what others were making on one film.

    • EmmaV1 says:


      Reese/Julia/Sandra make about 15 million a film.

      Jennifer makes 6-8 million, and no way in hell do the above 3 have movies that make twice as much money as Jennifer’s. Their movies make more, but only slightly.

      Plus although they adjusted and did not count ensemble movies (so Horrible Bosses didn’t count for Aniston), Aniston still has enough hits where she plays second fiddle to the real draw of the movie.

  14. tina d says:

    I love 27 Dresses. Yeah, I can only contribute that.

  15. anneesezz says:

    I’d like to see a list of who gets the most bang for their buck.

  16. Ms Kay says:

    Er… Denzel Washington????????

    *scratches head*

    • EmmaV1 says:

      Denzel gets paid about the same as Angelina Jolie….~20 million these days.

      Yet none of his movies in the past 3-4 years have made more than hers with similar budgets. The Tourist, a supposed flop, made more than Safe House.

  17. Diane says:

    Jack Black is on the road to change with his latest movie Bernie. He was spectacular and there are talks about awards. He’s starting to make better choices a la Robin Williams.

    • Apsutter says:

      Good for him! I just watched The Holiday the other night and was thinking that I like when he’s in movies where he can be silly but also sweet and not the typical over the top Jack we usually see.

  18. florencia says:

    fair list.

  19. lucy2 says:

    Kind of surprised by Sandra’s inclusion, though her one recent movie (Extremely Loud) didn’t do well, I doubt she got paid a huge sum for it. Funny that her costar, Tom Hanks, has had a few other low grossing ones in the same time frame, but he’s not on the list?
    Also surprised by Denzel, Adam, and Ben, thought their stuff always did pretty well. They must have HUGE salaries to be dragging the percentage down.

    Reese needs to step away from the rom coms and go back to more serious stuff. She’s a good actress, it would be nice to see her transition back to better things.

    Eddie Murphy’s been riding this list for a while.
    Heigl too. I unfortunately saw that Stephanie Plum movie she did – horrible.

  20. darth says:

    Katherine Heigl is over. Stop paying her. She had more than enough chances to catch on with audiences, but they’ve all sensed her bitchiness through the screen. Give that money to starving children.

    • Jayna says:

      I love Katherine in rom-coms, one of the best out there. Eddie, I haven’t seen a movie of his in ages. Reese doesn’t have the sparkle she used to have as a twenty-something and many of her more recent movies have been a bore. I did like that Water to Elephants or whatever it was called.

  21. DreamyK says:

    Remember when Eddie was a funny, charming guy? Yeah.

    Now when I think of Eddie, I remember him jumping up out of his seat at the 2007 Oscars like his ass was on fire when he lost and leaving.And then pulling a diva after he was supposed to host the Oscars.

    Go back to picking up Strange, Eddie. He likes him some cross dressers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  22. LeslieM says:

    I LOVE The Big Year! It’s too bad it wasn’t well promoted. It wasn’t the usual Jack Black movie but Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson were great in it.

    • Just Jules says:

      I LOVED the big year too! So did my whole family. We are keen bird watchers here in South Africa and it was so cool to see Hollyweird do something completely different. Really enjoyed it. Did they not promote it because they thought the “masses” wouldnt like it? I think if people had given it a chance, they would have enjoyed it too. Had some good laughs too.

  23. anon says:

    Surprise at Sandra being there but not the others. Im not a Reese fan at all & have always thought she was more PR & Hype