For some stars, winning an Oscar is like winning the lottery. Bagging that gold statue often means commanding better roles and bigger bucks. Here are 10 actors whose careers took off after their Academy Awards triumphs:
10. Kevin Spacey
Soon after Kevin Spacey won an Oscar in the supporting race for “The Usual Suspects” (1995), he earned fat paychecks like the $4.5 million he snagged for “The Negotiator” (1998) and the undisclosed fortune he certainly made for “Superman Returns.” But he also leveraged his victory to dig up more academy gold, this time in the lead category when he prevailed as Best Actor in “American Beauty.” It’s doubtful that he’d have the lead role in “House of Cards” today without those boosts from Oscar.
9. Marcia Gay Harden
Harden worked consistently during the 1980s and 1990s, but didn’t become a household name until the 2000 Oscar race when she upset frontrunner Kate Hudson (“Almost Famous”) to win Best Supporting Actress as artist Lee Krasner in “Pollock.” That win has paid off for Harden in another Oscar nomination (for “Mystic River,” 2003), two Emmy nominations (“Law & Order: SVU” in 2007, “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler” in 2009), and a Tony Award (“God of Carnage,” 2009). Plus a big salary leap.
8. Marion Cotillard
When the Oscars crown a new princess, the results can be unpredictable – Halle Berry and Reese Witherspoon‘s post-Oscar careers have been hit-and-miss – but for Cotillard that breakthrough success has paid off. She hasn’t been nominated again at the Oscars since her 2007 Best Actress win for “La Vie en Rose,” but she has put together a string of commercial (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises“) and critical successes (“Midnight in Paris,” “Contagion,” “Rust and Bone“). She earned $1 million for starring in “Inception.”
7. Daniel Day-Lewis
Day-Lewis gave a pair of critically acclaimed supporting performances in 1985 (“My Beautiful Laundrette” and “A Room with a View”), but it was his 1989 turn as a man with cerebral palsy (“My Left Foot”) that brought widespread international acclaim to his extreme brand of method acting. He won Best Actor and followed that with four more nominations and two more wins (“There Will Be Blood” in 2007, “Lincoln” in 2012), becoming the first man to win three Oscars in the lead race. He’s also earning lofty paychecks like the $8 million he scored for starring in “The Crucible” (1996).
6. Geoffrey Rush
Like Day-Lewis, Rush came to fame playing a troubled artist: in this case, pianist David Helfgott in “Shine” in 1996. His Best Actor Oscar would turn out to be the first of many accolades for the Australian actor, including three more Oscar nods and Best Actor prizes from the Tonys (“Exit the King,” 2009) and Emmys (“The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” 2005). He’s frequently cast in popcorn pix like “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Green Lantern” (2011) and those “Pirates of the Caribbean” flicks.
5. Billy Bob Thornton
Thornton rose to fame in 1996 for “Sling Blade,” for which he won Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Actor. That Oscar breakthrough launched his career, which has led to one other nomination (Best Supporting Actor for “A Simple Plan,” 1998) and several other noteworthy roles, including “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Bad Santa,” and the upcoming TV followup to the Coen brothers’ “Fargo.”
4. Angelina Jolie
Thornton’s ex-wife Jolie also has Oscar to thank for setting her career in motion. After a trio of Golden Globe wins for TV and film work, she won Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for “Girl, Interrupted,” and superstardom soon followed. The “Tomb Raider,” “Salt,” and “Maleficent” star now commands $20 million per film.
3. Sandra Bullock
Bullock was already one of Hollywood’s most successful stars when she won Best Actress in 2009 for “The Blind Side,” but for an actress in career transition it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Hollywood is inhospitable to many women over 40, and Bullock, now 49, has mostly grown out of the romantic comedies that were her bread and butter for much of her career. With “The Blind Side” she proved she could combine commercial success with prestige, which helps her earn paydays like the $10 million she received for the buddy-cop comedy “The Heat” and more prestige film roles like “Gravity.”
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman
The late Hoffman was a respected character actor in films like “Scent of a Woman,” “Boogie Nights,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Magnolia,” and “Almost Famous,” but it was his Best Actor-winning role in “Capote” that brought him to the forefront as one of Hollywood’s most admired leading men. He followed that with three more Oscar nominations, an Emmy nomination (“Empire Falls,” 2005), and a third Tony bid (“Death of a Salesman,” 2012) before tragically succumbing to heroin addiction at age 46.
1. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
Rarely do Oscar-winning writers rise to the level of stardom that Damon and Affleck have achieved. The co-stars, co-writers, and lifelong friends won for their original screenplay for “Good Will Hunting,” after which Damon went on to star in the successful “Bourne” franchise (payday for “Ultimatum” was $10 million), as well as the Oscar Best Picture of 2006 “The Departed.” He also earned a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for “Invictus” (2009) and has been nommed three times at the Emmys, most recently for “Behind the Candelabra.”
Affleck’s post-Oscar career was much rockier than Damon’s. He was a tabloid target during his relationship with Jennifer Lopez and won a Razzie Award for their on-screen collaboration, “Gigli” (2003), but he also received a nice consolation prize for the film – a $12,500,000 paycheck. Affleck recovered by going behind the camera, directing a pair of Oscar-nominated films (2007’s “Gone Baby Gone” and 2010’s “The Town”) before completing his comeback story by winning Best Picture in 2012 for “Argo.”