To compile our rankings of the hardest-working A-list actors, we considered all movies released between January 2005 and December 2009 that earned more than $20 million at the U.S. box office, based on data from Exhibitor Relations. Starting with a base of 559 films, we tallied which actors had the most starring or significant roles in those films, with ties broken by cumulative box-office totals.
1. Seth Rogen
Rogen is the hardest-working actor on our list, with 10 films that have earned at least $20 million apiece at the box office over the past five years, pulling in a total of $892 million. Known for his roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, which he co-wrote, Rogen got his start in show business as a teenager, moving to Los Angeles for a part in the short-lived TV comedy Freaks and Geeks. He has also made a fortune providing voices for characters in Shrek the Third, Horton Hears a Who! and Kung Fu Panda.
2. Morgan Freeman
Known to many as Lucius Fox, the man behind Wayne Enterprises in the Batman series, Freeman has been in nine films that grossed more than $20 million since 2005, including The Bucket List, Evan Almighty and Lucky Number Slevin.
3. Matt Damon
Damon has appeared in eight movies that earned more than $20 million in the last five years. They earned $696 million, including The Departed ($132 million) and Ocean's Thirteen ($117 million). Projects set for release in 2010 include the Coen brothers' remake of True Grit and the Clint Eastwood-directed Hereafter.
4. Will Ferrell
Ferrell is easily one of the most productive actors in Hollywood. Last year he did a flood of comedy show appearances and television specials. One highlight: eating reindeer eyeball with survivalist Bear Grylls on the Discovery Channel's Man Vs. Wild. He ranks fourth on our list, appearing in eight films earning a cumulative $607 million.
5. Robert Downey Jr.
It could be another big year for Downey when Iron Man 2 debuts--its first installment brought in $318 million for Paramount. That pushed the total take for Downey's seven $20 million-plus films since 2005 to $788 million.
6. Samuel L. Jackson
Seven of the films Jackson has made since 2005 have earned over $20 million domestically, for a total of nearly $700 million. His work includes the cult hit Snakes on a Plane, the animated blockbuster The Incredibles and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
7. Sandra Bullock
Reports of extramarital affairs by Bullock's husband, custom bike builder Jesse James, come on the heels of her Academy Award for best actress in The Blind Side, which brought in $241 million. She has appeared in seven movies over the past five years that earned more than $20 million for a total of $655 million.
8. Meryl Streep
One of only two women to make the list, Streep has an unequaled career in film, nominated for 16 Academy Awards, winning two. Her top-grossing seven movies since 2005 have brought in $547 million. Biggest score: Mamma Mia!, which made $144 million.
9. Shia LaBeouf
The youngest star on the list, Shia LaBeouf rose from the Disney Channel to action star in just a few years. LaBeouf has been in six films that made over $20 million, including Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Eagle Eye. Cumulative take: $1.3 billion.
10. Christian Bale
Bale's turns as Batman have given new meaning to the term blockbuster. The Dark Knight pulled in $533 million; Batman Begins $205 million. Bale has appeared in six movies that earned more than $20 million in the last five years, bringing in well over $1 billion.