Academy Award-worthy salaries

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For a few years now, we’ve been making the salary comparison between Oscar nominated actors and actresses and the characters whom they play. And — as you probably guessed — the actors typically out-earn their characters by quite a margin.

By and large this year is no different — apart from one huge exception. We’re not sure exactly how much Jesse Eisenberg — the actor nominated for his portrayal of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network” — was paid when he signed his contract for the movie in 2009, but we’d bet it was quite a bit less than the $3 billion that the real Facebook founder pulled in that year.

If life really were to imitate art for these Oscar-nominated actors and actresses,  check out the pay cuts (or, for Eisenberg, pay raise) that they would have to take in order to spend a year in the lives of their respective characters.

1. Annette Bening, nominated for best actress in a leading role, “The Kids Are All Right”
Estimated net worth: $48 million*
Character: Nic Allgood, obstetrician
Character’s average annual salary: $323,413**

2. Nicole Kidman, nominated for best actress in a leading role, “Rabbit Hole”
Estimated net worth: $120 million
Character: Becca Corbett, former executive turned stay-at-home mom
Character’s average annual salary: If Becca Corbett had kept her job as an executive at Sotheby’s, she’d be making an average annual salary of $121,370.

3. Natalie Portman, nominated for best actress in a leading role, “Black Swan”
Estimated net worth: $32 million
Character: Nina Sayers, ballerina
Character’s average annual salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is hard to determine the average annual salary of ballerinas since both earnings and hours worked vary so widely. However, the BLS does say that the top 10 percent of professional dancers earn more than $27.26 per hour.

4. Michelle Williams, nominated for best actress in a leading role, “Blue Valentine”
Estimated net worth: $16 million
Character:Cindy Heller, pre-med student
Character’s average annual salary: When Cindy Heller graduates from med school, she’ll make around $188,065 per year as a physician.

5. Jeff Bridges, nominated for best actor in a leading role, “True Grit”
Estimated net worth: $18 million
Character:U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn
Character’s average annual salary: According to, the average starting salary for an entry-level U.S. Marshal is between $41,729 and $46,969.

6. Jesse Eisenberg, nominated for best actor in a leading role, “The Social Network”
Estimated net worth: $8 million
Character:Mark Zuckerberg, founder, Facebook
Character’s average annual salary: Zuckerberg’s estimated net worth is around $6.9 billion, according to Forbes.

7. James Franco, nominated for best actor in a leading role, “127 Hours”
Estimated net worth: $22 million
Character:Aron Ralston, former mechanical engineer
Character’s average annual salary: Before the accident that changed his life, Ralston worked as a mechanical engineer, a career that pays an average yearly salary of $88,987.

8. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for best actor in a supporting role, “The Kids Are All Right”
Estimated net worth: $10 million
Character: Paul Hatfield, organic food restaurant owner
Character’s average annual salary: $27,598, though the salary of a restaurant owner largely depends on the success of their venue.

9. Geoffrey Rush, nominated for best actor in a supporting role, “The King’s Speech”
Estimated net worth: $40 million
Character:  Lionel Logue, speech therapist
Character’s average annual salary: $77,853

10. Amy Adams, nominated for best actor in a supporting role, “The Fighter”
Estimated net worth: $8 million
Character: Charlene Fleming, bartender
Character’s average annual salary: $29,009

*Estimated net worth from

**Character salary information from, unless otherwise specified. Salary information is for present-day earnings, in the U.S.

  1. I find it absolutely incredibly how much we pay our entertainers. It’s really a bit disheartened to realize that they are exploiting the lives of less advantaged people and getting extremely rich off of it.

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  17. your comparing annual salary’s of tens of thousands to multi-million dollar net worths? talk about apples to shovels. Try an actual annual salary vs. an annual salary; you know an actual comparison…

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