Every year, the list of the highest-paid actors in the world is released and it typically contains the usual suspects, like Robert Downey Jr. and Dwayne Johnson. Rarely, however, does this list dive into the wealthiest actors in the world. Anyone can have a blockbuster year (pun intended), but that doesn’t mean they will top the list of the wealthiest actors in the world. Obviously, actors like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Robert De Niro have been around for decades. Others, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Clooney, have also enjoyed lengthy acting careers but also have income from outside of the entertainment industry that contributes to their net worths. Who is the richest actor in the world? The answer might surprise you.
Jack Nicholson is about as old school Hollywood as anyone these days. He is not, however, the richest actor in the world. Despite his appearances in classics like The Shining, As Good As it Gets, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Terms of Endearment, Nicholson’s $400 million net worth falls about $2.6 billion short of being the richest actor in the world.
George Clooney is not just a successful actor, he’s also a savvy businessman. In 2013, George and entrepreneurs Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman founded Casamigos Tequila. The three originally launched the brand as a private label to give tequila to friends and family. They turned the brand into a public label in 2013. On June 21, 2017, Clooney, Gerber and Meldman agreed to sell Casamigos to alcohol conglomerate Diageo for $1 billion. They were paid $700 million in cash plus $300 million in bonuses that will be paid out based on future performance goals. Assuming a three-way split on the initial $700 million, George’s pre-tax cut would be around $230 million. After taxes, it would be around $150 million. This gives Clooney a net worth of $500 million, still $2.5 billion short of the richest actor.
Tom Cruise has been one of the highest-paid actors in the world since the 1980s. He was one of the first actors to regularly bring home $20 million or more per movie, starting in the 1990s. He’s starred in some of the most lucrative film franchises of all time. Cruise’s films all together have grossed more than $9 billion. Typically, Cruise gets a lucrative back end deal on his films, adding to his salary. With a net worth of $570 million, he is one of the wealthiest actors in the world, but he still falls a bit more than $2.4 billion short of the wealthiest actor.
The wealthiest actor in the world got her start in the 1980s sitcom Square Pegs. She also starred in Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, and Family Ties. In the mid-80s she became famous for her roles in Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys. In the early 00s, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Ally McBeal. The wealthiest actor in the world is none other than Jami Gertz.
In 1986, then 21-year-old Jami met Tony Ressler. Her publicist introduced them. Jami was at the height of her acting career and making far more money than he was when they met. When Gertz met Ressler, he was 27 years old and working at Drexel Burnham Lambert – the financial firm that collapsed four years later as a result of the havoc that junk bond king Michael Milken inflicted. The couple married in 1989. But don’t assume Gertz married the rich guy… it was actually Ressler who married the rich girl. After Drexel Burnham Lambert collapsed Ressler was fielding offers from Wall Street but decided to stay in L.A. for the sake of Gertz’s career. At the time, she was working a ton in both movies and television. It wasn’t long though before Ressler’s income caught up to and surpassed Gertz’s. In 1990 he co-founded the private equity firm Apollo Global. In 1997, he launched his enormously successful Ares Management.
As of this writing, Apollo has more than $300 billion in assets under management and Ares has more than $136 billion. Ressler owns an estimated 33% of the firm’s equity. Jami and Tony are part-owners of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team. They also own a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers and were once in the running to be majority owners of the Dodgers. Jami and Tony are extremely active philanthropists. They are consistently ranked among the most generous celebrities in the world and have at times been the #1 donor to charity out of any celebrity in the world. They are the founding members of Painted Turtle Camp, an organization that pays for children with chronic and fatal illnesses on camping trips. Jami Gertz and Tony Ressler have a net worth of $3 billion.