Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO
Odds are that Reese Witherspoon won’t walk away with the Emmy award for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie on Sunday. According to the online gambling community and expert pundits, her costar Nicole Kidman has a one in four chance of winning the category. But while Witherspoon may not gain the prestige of a trophy, she does have something else–a full bank account.
A number of the stars nominated for Emmy Awards have appeared on FORBES’ Celebrity 100, our annual list of highest-paid entertainers, in the past, including Kidman. But Reese Witherspoon has made more than any other actor nominated, with a total of $198 million in earnings, pretax, since FORBES first calculated her income in 2002 (that year’s total included hefty earnings from 2001’s Legally Blonde). When Witherspoon’s earnings from her film roles prior to 2002–including her star-turns in Election and Cruel Intentions–are taken into account, the tally is much higher. The Oscar-winner who is beloved by fans can pull in mid-seven-figure checks for a starring role, as well as hefty percentages of backend.
While the role that she’s nominated for—Madeline in HBO’s Big Little Lies—added less than $5 million to her bank account, it was a big hit with critics and audiences, and the show garnered 16 Emmy nominations.
“It’s really remarkable, I think it’s hit some sort of chord. I think it will take a minute for me to figure out what it is exactly. But no, I’ve never seen so many people stopping me,” Witherspoon told Vogue.
The actress, who has been active in films since she was a teenager, had her first breakout television role as the type-A and strong-willed yet vulnerable Madeline on the miniseries. Witherspoon—who is returning to television alongside Jennifer Aniston in an upcoming series about morning talk show hosts—also served as one of Big Little Lies’ executive producers through her production company, Hello Sunshine, which is dedicated to telling female-driven narratives starring multidimensional characters.
“It was borne out having two teenage kids and seeing the way they consume content and how women consume content,” Witherspoon told FORBES. “So many women feel completely invisible.”
In terms of nominees’ earnings, Witherspoon is followed by her costar Kidman, who has banked over $150 million since FORBES started keeping tabs in early 2002. Like Witherspoon, Big Little Lies was Kidman’s largest TV job to-date, though she has also recently picked up a leading role in BBC’s critical hit Top of the Lake.
“The thing I love about television is that you are in people’s lives regularly. And the connection that way is intense, and it makes me feel very much a part of the world—far more connected to the world than in a film,” Kidman told Variety.
But while these miniseries may make way creative connection and prestige, they don’t pay the same way film work does for Kidman, who can get hefty checks—up to eight figures—for star roles in commercial hits like The Stepford Wives, The Golden Compass and Australia.
Robert De Niro leads the male actors nominated. The Wizard of Lies star has made well over $100 million since 2002 thanks to various movie roles. Television, though, may turn out to be quite a lucrative endeavor for the high-profile actor, as he is reportedly going to receive $775,000 per episode for an upcoming Amazon series. Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin have also appeared on our Celebrity 100 list, and their earnings since 2002 have tallied well into the seven-figures.
To compile data on the top-earning Emmy nominees, we looked at historical pretax figures previously published by FORBES. We only considered nominees in the main acting categories; directors and producers were not eligible.
Had other categories been taken into account, MasterChef Junior host Gordon Ramsay, who was nominated for the Outstanding Reality Competition Series Host presented at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards last weekend, would have easily been the highest-paid nominee, with career earnings of at least $266.5 million. The money keeps rolling in for the chef and TV host, who currently hosts five shows and owns a slew of successful restaurants.
More Info: www.forbes.com