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Ever since he got his big break on the '80s hospital soap St. Elsewhere (Dr. Phillip Chandler was the OG McDreamy, jsyk), Denzel Washington has been making *bank.* Last year alone, he starred in two major films—The Little Things (which was a v profitable flop) and The Tragedy of MacBeth (which earned him Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards noms)—and it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon. Ofc, the question begs: Just how massive is Denzel Washington's net worth? Answer: Pretty damn massive. Let's take a lil journey through how Denzel amassed his full-on fortune, shall we?
First of all, he’s been in the biz for decades
After a few bit roles and TV movies, Denzel landed his breakout role on St. Elsewhere in 1982, and a star was born. There’s no solid intel on what his St. Elsewhere salary was exactly, but the series was a six-season hit with 137 episodes/paychecks to slide into Denzel’s bank account, so chances are that he made a good amount of dough.
After its initial run, reruns of St. Elsewhere aired in syndication for a while, which no doubt earned Denzel even more $$$ in royalties. And FYI, all six seasons of the series are available to stream on Hulu rn so...get on it.
He started earning big paychecks in the ’90s
After his six-season run as Dr. Phillip Chandler, Denzel began his domination of the big screen. His first huge payday came in 1995 for the sci-fi movie Virtuosity (no, don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it). The movie wasn’t a box-office smash, but Denzel reportedly took home $7.5 million to star in it, and his paychecks only got more impressive from there. The following year, he pulled in $10 million to star in Courage Under Fire, and by 1998, he was commanding $12 million for The Siege and Fallen. Not! Too! Shabby!!
After his Oscar win, he joined the $20 million club
He was still earning $12 million per movie when he made 2001’s Training Day, which earned him his Best Actor Oscars win and his membership card to the $20 Million Club (aka the elite ranks of actors who earn $20 million per movie) for movies like 2003’s Out of Time and 2004’s Man on Fire.
Other members of the $20 Mil Club include Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Angelina Jolie, among other big names. No surprises there.
He got paid twice to make American Gangster
Earning $20 million to make a movie is an achievement, but how many actors could make the $20 million without actually making the movie—and then later make an additional $20 million to make the movie after all? That’s reportedly the story of how things played out for Denzel when it came to making 2007’s American Gangster.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Universal signed Denzel to star in the movie in 2004 when, as we’ve established, the going rate to get Denzel Washington to star in your movie was a cool $20 million. Behind-the-scenes issues and studio differences with Antoine Fuqua (who was originally slated to direct the movie) eventually led to the film's cancellation, but Denzel—savvy businessperson that he is—had a contract that guaranteed his paycheck whether the movie got made or not. Genius.
Fast-forward a few years and Universal decided it *still* wanted to make American Gangster after all with director Ridley Scott. And ofc, the studio still wanted Denzel to star in it...which he did, under another contract for another $20 million, technically bringing his total salary for the movie to $40 million. Luckily, the gamble paid off for Universal, and the movie was well-received, grossing almost $270 million worldwide.
Oh, and he also earned $40 million for The Little Things
Most recently, Warner Bros. paid Denzel a whopping $40 million (!!) for his work in 2021's The Little Things. According to Variety, the $40 million payday for the movie—which was part of the studio’s COVID-19-driven experiment to make new movies available to stream on HBO Max the same day they premiered in theaters—was due to a deal Warner Bros. reached with Denzel to "account for diminishing box office in light of streaming premieres," implying that his original contract for the movie included backend bonuses based on ticket sales.
As it turns out, the detective drama (which also starred Rami Malek and Jared Leto) wasn't exactly a hit with critics. It didn't even manage to recoup its $30 million production budget...but fortunately, that didn't affect Denzel's major earnings on the film. Cha-ching!
He's also branched out into directing and producing
Clearly, Denzel earns *plenty* as an actor, but he also has a bit of a side hustle as a director and producer. He made his directorial debut in 2002 with Antwone Fisher and also directed 2007’s The Great Debaters, 2016’s Fences, and 2021’s A Journal for Jordan, as well as a 2016 episode of Grey’s Anatomy, just because. When it comes to producing, Denzel has even more experience, with 13 credits that include a mix of movies and TV shows.
And he has some impressive real estate
Denzel and his wife of nearly 40 years, Pauletta Pearson, own some pretty gorge properties. They've got their 29,000-square-foot Beverly Park mansion, which they bought for less than $2.7 million from Michael Eisner back in 1992 (and which is now worth a WHOLE lot more). According to Zillow, it's now worth almost $32 million, sooooo you could say it was a decent investment.
And let's not forget their $13 million Central Park West apartment in Manhattan, which they've owned since 2006, as well as their most recent purchase: a $10.9 million Century City condo in Los Angeles.
He's passionate about giving back
Ya, he may be mega-rich, but Denzel doesn't just keep his wealth to himself. The actor is actively involved in philanthropy, especially when it comes to helping out Historically Black colleges and universities. In 2021, the Denzel Washington Family Foundation pledged $1 million to Wiley College, and he's also worked to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America for years, among other endeavors. Oh, and fun fact: He even covered the late Chadwick Boseman’s tuition at a prestigious summer theater program at the University of Oxford.
So...what *is* Denzel Washington’s net worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Denzel’s net worth in 2022 is a whopping $280 million. Oh, and he reportedly pulls in a salary of anywhere from $60 million to $80 million every year, so expect that total to keep on climbing. Keep up the good work, Denzel.
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