The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Shocking news: Will Ferrell named most overpaid actor in Hollywood

November 4, 2010 |  5:45 pm

Will_ferrell I've never met Will Ferrell, so I don't know if he's a wonderful humanitarian or a world-class jerk — though he certainly knows his college football, since he correctly picked my beloved Florida Gators to beat Georgia when he was on ESPN's College Gameday show last weekend. But does he really belong at the top of Forbes' new list of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actors?

Look, the real truth is that all actors are overpaid, just like baseball players and hedge fund managers. But even if we were grading on a curve — which would put Forbes' list up against any of the Hottest Under-40 Actors-type lists that Entertainment Weekly churns out every few weeks — the Overpaid Actors list seems totally out of touch with Hollywood reality. Six of its top 10 actors, for example, are comedians, which seems really clueless, since comedy is easily the most commercial genre in showbiz.

I have no argument with Eddie Murphy holding down No. 2 on the overpaid list, since he probably deserves a lifetime achievement award when it comes to being overpaid, but Forbes also has Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler on its list. Adam Sandler?? The guy who cranks out $100-million box-office movies every year, movies that now make just as much money overseas as they do at home? Just because Sandler (and Rogen) were in one dud, Judd Apatow's "Funny People," does that make them overpaid? No way.

Sandler's last film, "Grown Ups," made $264 million around the globe, which puts him in pretty rarefied territory as a comedian. Forbes doesn't include it in its calculations, since the list had a June 1 deadline, which makes the list seem even more lame, since — well — it's already November, so surely they could've figured out a way to at least include the entire summer movie slate. If Sandler belongs on a list, it would be the Most Reliable Box Office Stars, not the Most Overpaid ones. In fact, after Will Smith, it's hard to imagine a more consistent box-office performer than Sandler, no matter how many bad reviews his films get.

And what's Denzel Washington doing at No. 3? Of his last three studio films, two were hits ("American Gangster" and "The Book of Eli"), and one was a flop ("The Taking of Pelham 123"). And what's Matt Damon doing at No. 7? No one's saying "The Informant!" wasn't a clinker, but Damon is at the top of the heap in Hollywood when it comes to hiring an action/thriller star. Which leaves me with only one more question: If you're putting together a list like this, where the heck is Russell Crowe? 

Photo: Will Ferrell at the premiere of DreamWorks Animation's new film, "Megamind." 

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Image.