Police say Jussie Smollett was unhappy with his salary on 'Empire' — here's how it stacks up against some of TV's biggest stars

  • “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after turning himself in to police on Thursday, was charged with making a false police report of a racist and homophobic assault last month.
  • Chicago police said Smollett staged the attack as a publicity stunt and that he was unhappy with his “Empire” salary.
  • He made $US65,000 an episode, a “well-placed source” told a HuffPost reporter. But The Hollywood Reporter reported on Thursday that he was recently making as much as $US125,000 an episode.
  • How does that stack up against some of the highest-paid actors on television?

The “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in to police on Thursday and was charged with making a false police report.

Smollett said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault last month. But Chicago police said he staged the act as a publicity stunt because he was unhappy with his “Empire” salary.

Smollett made $US65,000 per episode for the Fox show, according to HuffPost reporter Yashar Ali, who cited a “well-placed source.” But The Hollywood Reporter reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources, that he was recently making as much as $US125,000 an episode. Sources described it to THR as “three tiers of cast salaries,” and that stars Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson started out earning between $US110,000 and $US120,000 per episode, but were elevated to the $US225,000-$US250,000 range in 2016.

“Empire” has 18 episodes each season. A Fox representative declined to comment on Smollett’s compensation.

“Empire” is on its fifth season, and Smollett has been a member of the cast since the show’s beginning. How does his reported salary stack up against some of the highest-paid actors in television?

Norman Reedus is making $US1 million an episode for “The Walking Dead” after his costar Andrew Lincoln departed the show, according to Variety. The stars of HBO’s “Westworld” are getting big raises ahead of the sci-fi drama’s third season, The Hollywood Reporter reported in October.

And Jim Parsons of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” made headlines last summer for walking away from a reported two-year, $US50 million paycheck for two more seasons of the sitcom, which CBS subsequently decided to end this year.

Below are some of TV’s highest-paid actors and how much they make per episode:


$US1 million – Norman Reedus, “The Walking Dead” (AMC)

‘The Walking Dead’/AMC

Source: Variety(2018)


$US1 million — Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Hulu

Source: Variety(2018)


$US1 million — Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

HBO

Source: The Hollywood Reporter(2018)


$US1 million — Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

CBS

Source: Variety(2016)


$US650,000 – Dwayne Johnson, “Ballers” (HBO)

HBO

Source: The Hollywood Reporter(2017)


$US600,000 — Julia Roberts, “Homecoming” (Amazon)

Amazon

Source: Variety(2018)


$US575,000 — Ellen Pompeo, “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)

ABC
Source: The Hollywood Reporter (2018)


$US500,000 — Sean Penn, “The First” (Hulu)

Hulu
Source: Variety(2018)


$US500,000 — Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Source: Variety(2017)


$US375,000 — John Goodman, “The Conners” (ABC)

ABC

Source: Variety(2018)


$US350,000 — Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things” (Netflix)

Netflix

Source: Variety(2018)


$US250,000 — Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC)

NBC

Source: The Hollywood Reporter (2018)


$US250,000 — Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld” (HBO)

HBO
Source: The Hollywood Reporter (2018)

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