Hint: It pays to be royalty.
In Westeros, it pays to be a King, a Queen, or a Lannister.
That’s the takeaway from new data Variety released this week estimating how much actors make for starring in some of television’s top shows. In fact, aside from Robert De Niro, who’s making $775,000 per episode for an untitled David O. Russell project, and Mark Harmon, who stars in NCIS on CBS and makes $525,000 per episode, several Game of Thrones stars are making more than their counterparts on other series.
According to Variety, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) all make $500,000 per episode starring in their roles in the hit HBO program. No other leading stars in the show were listed in Variety‘s list of top-paid dramatic television actors.
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At $500,000, the top Game of Thrones stars stand to have a nice payday this year. On Sunday, the seventh and final episode in Season 7 will air. All told, if Variety‘s data is correct, the stars all stand to make $3.5 million on the show this year.
But as nice as that might be, there’s still more money to be made elsewhere. Top stars in the comedy series The Big Bang Theory, including Kaley Cuoco and Simon Helberg, all make $900,000 per episode. Season 10, its latest, had 24 episodes.
Dwayne Johnson, who stars in the HBO series Ballers, is taking down $650,000 per episode for his work on the show.
When it’s all said and done, it’s best to be a show host. Ellen DeGeneres, who hosts The Ellen DeGeneres Show, makes an estimated $50 million per year, according to Variety. Judith Sheindlin of Judge Judy fame makes $47 million per year. Pat Sajak, best known for hosting Wheel of Fortune, makes a whopping $15 million per year for his role.