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Hollywood's most valuable actor? Robert Downey Jr., of course!

Matt Sayles / AP

Robert Downey Jr. is the most valuable movie star in Hollywood, combining box-office success in both action films and comedies with wide critical acclaim, audience likeability and studio-head bankability, according to Vulture's latest study. The “Iron Man” star’s Hollywood supremacy is the result of a recent, rather in-depth statistical study. While it may sound complicated, we're here to break it down for you.

Vulture, with the help of The Guardian’s statistician Harry Enten, set eight categories with which to quantify a star’s Hollywood value. This includes studio value (five top studio heads were asked who they’d cast with a sure-fire script in hand), which was given the lion’s share of importance in the calculations, but the study also factored in box-office numbers, Oscar wins and nominations, critics’ score based on Metacritic and appeareances on magazine covers.

Downey Jr., who has risen from substance abuse and prison time to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, has chosen his roles wisely. He staged his comeback by showing off mounds of charisma in 2008’s “Iron Man,” then cleverly followed the successful superhero film with his genuinely enjoyable performances in “Tropic Thunder,” “Due Date” and his pair of “Sherlock Holmes” movies. Since his dark days, he’s graced the covers of 12 major magazines (including GQ, Rolling Stone and Men’s Vogue), proving that moviegoers are genuinely interested in his personal life and success story.  

While Downey Jr. takes the top spot, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Brad Pitt round out the top five. (The highest ranking woman is Angelina Jolie, who comes in at No. 8 on Vulture’s list.) But it’s Will Smith who reigns supreme as the most likeable actor in Hollywood, according to Vulture’s audience polls, and he’s also the most consistent international moneymaker.

There are a few oddities in the rankings though. The relatively new Jennifer Lawrence is only 21 years old, but she managed to snag the No. 16 spot thanks to her brilliant mix of critically acclaimed films and box-office hits. “Winter’s Bone” earned her an Oscar nomination. “X-Men: First Class” and “The Hunger Games” put her in good graces with studio heads, affirmed her presence as a major box-office draw, and gave her two blockbuster series’ to bank on for years to come.


On the other side of the surprise spectrum is Ryan Reynolds. Even though he created a blockbuster romantic comedy alongside Sandra Bullock in 2009’s “The Proposal” and was People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2010, he still hangs out at No. 75, below even the 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone. The 35-year-old can thank his last two films -- the superhero box-office disaster “Green Lantern” and critical failure “The Change-Up” -- for this abysmal position. (Perhaps his A-list status was prematurely given.)

While Downey Jr. may not be the most respected actor in Hollywood (that’s Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep territory), the most likeable or even the most bankable, he’s still No. 1 when stats are crunched and polls are taken. The numbers don’t lie.

Do you agree that Downey Jr. is the most valuable actor in Hollywood? Which actor draws you to a movie? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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