'The Office' Star Revealed as TV's Highest Paid Actor
A star from The Office now commands TV's top salary. According to Puck News writer Matthew Belloni, "Most agents and lawyers I talk to believe that title goes to Jack Ryan star John Krasinski, whose acting (and executive producing) fee is believed to reach, or even top, $2 million an episode on the Amazon series' just-concluded 8-episode third season."
Belloni noted, "This is an inexact science," since many factors influence total compensation. He mentioned that "actors on 22-episode broadcast shows, like Mariska Hargitay on NBC's Law & Order: SVU, or the recently exited Ellen Pompeo on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, can make more money overall." But there are numerous other stars who have made $1 million per episode, especially on limited series (Michael Keaton on Hulu's Dopesick, Elisabeth Moss on Apple's Shining Girls) or ongoing series (Jason Sudeikis on Ted Lasso, Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren on 1923; Chris Pratt on The Terminal List), and this is especially true if producing fees are taken into account as well. Belloni also referred to the recent news that Zendaya had negotiated $1 million per episode on HBO's Euphoria.
"Having said all that," he added, "the post-Peak TV salary comedown is real. All the outlets (except maybe Amazon and Apple) are pushing back on even top tier talent. When I asked one big dealmaker which stars are commanding $1 million these days, he texted back: '$850,000 is the new $1 million.'"
A 2022 report by Variety echoed these sentiments, stating that "TV's great talent economic divide is only growing wider." According to the piece, once a rare occurrence, actors with $1 million-plus paychecks per episode are now commonplace for A-list talent, especially movie stars who have branched out into episodic television production. Variety spoke to a number of TV talent agents who have told them that it's not easy for the second tier players to command the same sums they might have been able to do just a few years ago, at the height of the streaming boom.
"It's taken a little bit of a hit," one insider said. "There's a much deeper and steeper sliding scale between No. 1 or 2 on the call sheet and 3, 4 and 5. I think that had to do a lot with the oversaturation of salaries on shows. I think a lot of places are realizing that you can pay the one big star, but you can't pay seven of them."
The $1 million per episode figure remains the magic number for top TV talent. With seemingly endless streaming show spending dwindling as companies such as Netflix and Warner Bros. try to reduce costs, Variety reported that many are trying to cap salaries at the same level.
"With fears of an economic downturn, and a bit of a question about the health of the streaming world, there's an overall sense that budgets are about to be scrutinized even more," the outlet explained. "According to talent reps, the top range of TV salaries has leveled off at $750,000 to $1 million per episode for the key player, with the next tier ranging between $600,000 and $800,000."