There was a time when acting on TV was looked down upon. Films were where real actors could be found, but now the landscape has changed. TV provides some gripping dramas and hilarious comedies which are watched by millions of viewers worldwide, largely thanks to on-demand streaming services which make viewing anytime, anywhere possible. And from the actors’ point of view it can be very financially rewarding indeed.
Big paydays nothing new
When the cast of Friends negotiated a reported salary of $1million each per episode it was seen as a ludicrously high amount by some and by today’s standards, considering the show finished a decade ago, it actually is an incredibly good payday.
There are actors today who are earning very well, but taking into account inflation nobody has yet met the dizzy heights of those who played Phoebe, Monica and Chandler yet.
The current top earners
In the field of comedy, sci-fi geek story the Big Bang Theory contains the highest earners. Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco all take a cool million per episode, which considering a season is over 20 episodes translates into quite a handsome annual salary.
The nearest to any of these is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who commands $400,000 per episode for his role in Ballers.
Moving into drama and the top earners are Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel who are paid $750,000 per episode for Gilmore Girls. Mark Harmon earns $525,000 each episode for NCIS and Kevin Spacey picks up half a million dollars for every episode of House of Cards.
It’s no surprise to see the cast of the popular Game of Thrones make the list of high earners either. Peter Dinklage, Lana Headey, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau all pick up a payslip for $500,000 each week. Although with Game of Thrones’ propensity for killing off major characters, the window of opportunity for earning this amount could be quite small.
Are these actors good value for money? We might think it’s an obscene amount of money to earn, but the high worldwide viewing figures of all of these shows tell us that the networks certainly think it’s justifiable and they are after all running their channels as profitable businesses. We all watch these shows and are thoroughly entertained by them.