Kristen Stewart: Forbes Highest Paid Actress

Studios are notoriously stingy when it comes to paying young actors for the first film in a planned franchise. Forget about the $10 million they would have had to shell out to get a big name — an up-and-comer is lucky to get $800,000.

That changes dramatically when it comes to the third and fourth films in a series. Suddenly, the star becomes indispensable and the studio has to pay up. And that’s why Kristen Stewart has vaulted to the top of our annual list of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.

At this point, could anyone else play Bella Swan in Twilight? Probably not; if the studio tried to switch in another actress, fans would revolt. So for the last two Twilight films, Stewart has been able to demand an estimated $12.5 million per film, plus a share of the profits.

Her two co-stars, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, get paid the same, but Stewart earned more than them this year because of Snow White and the Huntsman. Stewart’s earnings between May 2011 and May 2012 totaled $34.5 million, helping her rank 43rd on our Celebrity 100 list. (The list measures a combination of money and fame.)

Women are still paid less than men in the movie business. The 10 actresses who make up our list earned a total $200 million compared to the $361 million brought in by our top 10 men.

10. Jennifer Aniston

$12 million
9.Kristen Wiig

$12 million
8. Meryl Streep

$12 million
7. SJP

$15 million
6. Julia Roberts

$16 million
5. Charlize Theron

$18 million
4. Angelina Jolie

$20 million
3. Sandra Bullock

$25 million
2. Cameron Diaz

$34 million
1. Kristen Stewart (fml...)

$34.5 million