Here's How Much Nathan Fillion Is Really Worth

Anyone reading pop culture tea leaves could never have guessed that Nathan Fillion would be a Hollywood star. For openers, he comes from a remote northern Canadian city called Edmonton, a community more obsessed with its professional hockey franchise than anything to do with the arts. Additionally, its frigid climate, where the mercury can drop to 40 below zero, hardly makes the place attractive to Los Angeles entertainment types. 

Then there's his personality that balks at anything close to Alpha Male, despite possessing a jawline that can cut glass. Yet, being laid-back works for him, whether playing a low-key space trucker with occasional anger management issues ("Firefly"), a cavalier mystery novelist ("Castle"), or a fish-out-of-water police officer ("The Rookie"). It's as if the same geek appeal that made "The Big Bang Theory" a Nielsen champ has cross-pollinated with Fillion's genes to make him a bona fide Tinseltown draw worth $20 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

"Dear Super Nerdy Nerd Dudes, Isn't it frickin' great being a nerd?" Fillion once asked on Twitter. To his core fan base, the answer would be a qualified "Yes!" To those who know him and are familiar with his geeky side, Fillion remains humble, polite, and grounded whether he's working in Los Angeles or visiting family and friends back in Canada, which he often does. Not bad for someone originating from a place Rolling Stone once called a "cultural deprivation tank."

Nathan Fillion started out as a singing telegram

While growing up, Nathan Fillion entertained the prospect of acting in the capacity of a drama teacher. It's in his lineage since his brother teaches, as did both his parents before they retired. That influence warranted Fillion to attend university in his hometown during the early '90s to pursue a degree in Education.

When he wasn't hitting the books, he managed to land a few odd jobs, including one part-time gig as a singing telegram dressed as Tarzan. "I've never had so much authority in a costume until 'The Rookie,' wearing a police uniform," he quipped on "The View." "You could do anything you wanted, dressed as Tarzan, [and] no one would stop you." 

He also waited tables at a local restaurant chain, where he was fired — twice. Back then, his take-home pay was minuscule, given that the minimum wage was around $9 an hour. Working around 20 hours a week for three years would have earned him roughly $3,000. He might have made more had he not decided to enroll in an improvisation acting class as a lark. Fillion did so well; he was asked to appear in theatrical shows around town, including a satirical soap opera called "Die-Nasty," where a talent scout in the crowd persuaded him to act in a real soap opera in New York.

Nathan Fillion left school to star in a soap opera

Nathan Fillion was in his final semester at university, studying to be a teacher about to enter his practicum phase, where he'd actually be a student teacher for a few weeks. But when the possibility of starring in a soap opera surfaced, Fillion played it safe by asking the university administration to alter his practicum schedule. "I asked, 'Can I put a hold on my spot? I'm going to New York to try this soap opera, but it might not pan out, and I might be coming back and picking up where I left off.'" he said to The Gateway. "They said, 'Yeah, go ahead, knock yourself out,' and they held my spot ... they were very cool to me."

Nathan never went back to school after he successfully landed the part of Joey Buchanan in "One Life To Live," a role he enjoyed for a few years. "Everything I do every day, I learned on that show," he said on "The View." "It was such a warm, kind place to be. I learned everything there." 

Besides learning a lot, he earned considerably more than when he was back home. According to human resources website Comparably, the average soap opera actor makes around $57,000 annually. Comparing today's pay to 1994, when Fillion's soap opera career started, the Average Wage Index reveals he would have made less than $30,000 a year and $90,000 during his tenure on the show.

He landed Firefly after a sitcom was canceled

After ending his run in "One Life To Live" and with experience in working in a legit series under his belt, Nathan Fillion moved to Los Angeles to try his luck in Hollywood. In 1998, he snared a recurring role in the second season of "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" and stuck with the show until its cancellation in 2001.

The following year, Fillion finally managed to grab a lead role as space-faring privateer Malcolm Reynolds in "Firefly," a drama that combined the high-tech otherworldliness of a sci-fi show with the grittiness of a traditional Western. The Joss Whedon creation quickly garnered a cult-like following but with poor overall ratings, the Fox network axed the program. "I had an amazing time on 'Firefly.' It was the best job I'd ever had," Fillion recalled to Esquire.

It also might have been his biggest series of paydays to date. While it's hard to obtain a figure for his salary back in the early aughts, Wrapbook notes that in 2021, for a one-hour series, a regular actor can be making "$4,302 per week for appearing in every episode." As for a minor character (such as his role on "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place"), Wrapbook reveals that the current rates are "$4,093 per week for appearing in more than half" of the episodes. While Fillion probably wasn't making that much for either show, he was still sitting comfortably while finding his footing in Hollywood.

Nathan Fillion lands his first lead movie role in Serenity

Due to fans clamoring for more "Firefly" content after Fox canceled the series in 2002 and feeling that the sci-fi show's saga was far from complete, producer Joss Whedon managed to film a show sequel in the form of a movie called "Serenity." After three years of planning, a seven-week shooting schedule, and a shoestring $39-million budget, "Serenity" tied up a few loose ends. A domestic box office flop when it opened in 2005, the flick barely nudged into profitability after bean counters tabulated the international receipts.

Nathan Fillion was thrilled to reprise his Malcolm Reynolds role, marking his lead debut in a major motion picture. "One of the real things I like about him is this is a man who won't lay down but just can't seem to get a break," said Fillion to Tribute

Fillion likely jumped at the movie out of love for the "Firefly" experience than for money, simply because there wasn't much to go around to pay a cast that included eight other principal characters. Film data researcher Stephen Follows has estimated that roughly 25 percent of a movie budget between $20-$50 million is dedicated to the cast. Out of that share, Fillion could easily have earned $1 million, and assuming camaraderie between the rest of the main characters remained high, it's likely they each received a pretty decent cut as well.

Castle remains Nathan Fillion's best-known role

While Nathan Fillion kept busy after the cancellation of "Firefly" with cameos in TV and movies, it took seven years for him to land another plum role in prime-time. This time, he struck paydirt with "Castle," in 2009, in which he played mystery writer Richard Castle tagging along with the NYPD to garner story ideas and even help officers solve murders. 

The show started with a more procedural premise towards crime-solving until the writing diverted towards an onscreen romance between Castle and Detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic. But behind the scenes, rumors of friction between Fillion and Katic started to percolate in the media. By the eighth season, the show began to tank in the ratings, leading to the firing of Katic and the show's demise immediately thereafter. 

If Fillion had any bittersweet feelings over the show's cancellation, he certainly didn't display them during an interview with TV Line. "We had eight years of a phenomenal television show with the amazing people that I loved so very, very much," he said. "I'll miss them dearly. I'll miss the characters they play." He might also miss the security the show provided, having been paid $100,000 for each of the 173 episodes that "Castle" ran, according to Celebrity Net Worth. That's $17.3 million to fall back on, folks — at least until the next project surfaces. 

Nathan Fillion's TV track record continues with The Rookie

After Castle, it didn't take long for Nathan Fillion to land another prime-time drama, this time as aging neophyte cop John Nolan in "The Rookie," which premiered in 2018 and is still going strong, as of this writing. Unlike Fillion's previous portrayals from the determined Malcolm Reynolds to the cocky Richard Castle, playing Nolan as an older character totally new to law enforcement made the actor stretch more than ever.

"Growing up, I was always sold the hero who was super cool, prepared for everything," he said on WKBW-TV Buffalo. "There's no challenge for that hero. He can handle anything. John Nolan has ... the courage to drop everything he knows, drop everything that's comfortable and safe, and start brand new in something that's actually terrifying."

So far, no reports of cast fighting or scandals have surfaced on the drama. Additionally, what's also not been made public is Fillion's salary, but here's a clue: In a November 2021 article, Celebrity Dig estimated the actor was worth around $18 million as of "early 2020." Between the time of that estimate and the end of the third season in May 2021, ABC had broadcast around 20 episodes. With Fillion's current worth pegged at $20 million, that's a difference of $2,000,000. Rounding off the figures would bring Fillion's pay per episode to be around $100,000 — the same as what he earned per installment of Castle.

Nathan Fillion had pivotal roles in a few movies

Before Nathan Fillion first became a soap star, he landed spots in two Canadian-made movie shorts, which helped provide him with some on-set experience. Once in Hollywood and between TV series, he's managed to grab a few awesome roles to fatten his resume. He shared scenery with the likes of Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan," Keri Russell in "Waitress," and even grabbed lead roles in such suspense flicks as "Slither," "Water's Edge," and "White Noise 2: The Light."

Probably the movie that garnered the most attention for Fillion of late was his role of supervillain T.D.K. in the summer 2021 release of "The Suicide Squad," yet another addition to the expanding DC Comics saga. "T.D.K. has powers, but he's not powerful," said Fillion to ET Canada when sizing up his character. "I think his powers lead to his vulnerability."

According to ABS Payroll, the basic Screen Actors Guild rate for a week of work in 2020 was $3,575.00. While this number was probably smaller during Fillion's more formative years, his more recent offerings like the T.D.K. role would have resulted in a hefty paycheck. Still, from the time he first hit L.A. to his breakthrough in "Castle," those smaller acting roles were critical in keeping Fillion in the game.

Nathan Fillion has contributed a great deal of voicework

One thing that springs out from Nathan Fillion's body of work is that he does a lot of voicework. And why not? After all, in voicework, he doesn't have to memorize a script, endure hours of hair and makeup or wait forever in a trailer while the film crew sizes up the next shot. Considering he now has his own home studio, too, he doesn't even have to drive to one to contribute his larynx to a project.

Fillion also has the vocal chops to get the job done, with a deep voice that can sound pensive one moment and outrageous the next. His disembodied narrative can be heard in outings like "Cars 3," "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Robot Chicken," "American Dad!," and "Family Guy." He's also been a prolific contributor to video games like "Halo 3" and "Jade Empire."

Voiceover resource site Voices estimates that experienced practitioners in the field can earn up to $10,000 a gig. For someone established like Fillion, it's an opportunity he jumps at regularly.

Nathan Fillion has dropped in on other shows

With millions of TV viewers now familiar with Nathan Fillion's face and name, no doubt a few of them wondered where they had seen him before. The most likely answer? Probably in scores of TV shows where he had bit roles and short story arcs. Some of those early efforts took place after "Firefly" tanked, such as an appearance in "Lost," a handful of cameos in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and 11 episodes playing a doctor in "Desperate Housewives." He also enjoyed more recent roles playing weather announcer Rainer Shine in "Modern Family" and as himself in "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Housewife."

"I'm a version of me that I think people imagine me to be," Fillion said to TV Insider about his "American Housewife" appearance. "Personable, but a little Hollywood."

Personal finance website Sapling quoted Screen Actors Guild rates citing that a TV appearance would enable an actor to pocket at least $4,500 per episode, as of 2011. No doubt Fillion would be asking for a bit more than that.

Nathan Fillion is one rather charitable dude

Nathan Fillion comes across as about as humble and grounded as a celebrity can get, qualities he attributes to his upbringing. "Canadians aren't afraid to be kind," he remarked to The Gateway. Those same attributes extend to his charity involvement, which includes Charity: Water, an initiative to provide clean water to citizens in Africa. He managed to convince donors like actor Alyssa Milano to contribute to the drive, raising just over $60,000 in the process.

But one campaign that's close to his heart is Kids Need To Read, an organization he co-founded in 2007 to provide literary materials to children in areas where libraries and schools are too underfunded to get those resources themselves. To date, they've managed to service more than 500 communities across the U.S. with books and other reading material.

One incident that sparked a huge drive occurred when Fillion mused to Entertainment Weekly about how he'd try to revive the "Firefly" series. "If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to 'Firefly,' make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet," he said.

Thinking Fillion was serious, several fans started a fund drive on social media to help bring the show back. Instead, the actor told the sci-fi activists to cease and desist, suggesting the cash already raised be diverted to his charity instead. "It's beautiful to dream of more 'Firefly,' but PLEASE DON'T SEND ANY MONEY," he tweeted.

Nathan Fillion has never forgotten his hometown

Many Canadian celebrities who relocate to Los Angeles, like Jim Carrey and William Shatner, don't bother going back home unless it's work related. But Nathan Fillion makes it a point to visit his birthplace as often as he can. Granted the pandemic has since sidelined those sojourns, but when away from the cameras, he's been a common sight on Edmonton streets.

Sometimes, he visits his old thespian pals and even performs at a live improv to a surprised audience. But it was while back in the U.S. in 2015 when Fillion made his biggest impact on the city's theater community. Actors and administrators were fundraising to complete reconstruction of their Varscona Theater, one of Fillion's old stomping grounds. He chipped in with a raffle to offer a winner a chance to dine with him in L.A., a venture that raised more than $90,000, according to CBC. "Many places I can say I got my start, this was probably the first place I got my start," said Fillion in a video. "They made life easy and wonderful for me."

The most touching example involved his mother, having problems paying for gas with her credit card at a Costco, only to have the attendant pay for it himself. Fillion responded by thanking the attendant on social media and providing a nearby senior citizens home with iPads and headphones. "You restore my faith in humanity, sir," said Fillion on Facebook.

Nathan Fillion's lifestyle is relatively spartan for a celebrity

Despite being a huge TV draw, Nathan Fillion is hardly lavish, with no known massive car collection or mansion to his name. The only vehicle he owns that he's public about is an Arcimoto electric motorbike, retailing for $17,000. 

Fillion's also pretty quiet about Castle's castle. In September, he showed a few Instagram images inside his abode with floor-to-ceiling windows and a stylish vaulted ceiling with the rafters visible, a sure sign he's not holed up in a tenement. But if fans were expecting extravagant things, they were sorely disappointed. Instead, they were treated to a few shots of his cat and sole housemate Bowie lazing on a counter near where Fillion was making breakfast. Apparently, anything in his dwelling has to be functional in some way, such as the studio he built during the pandemic. "This is the first thing I did in lockdown in March," said Fillion in his completed project on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." "This is my guestroom that never gets used." 

Those anecdotes provide little detail on the value of Fillion's home, although Forbes estimates that the average celebrity pad in Los Angeles is between $3.5 million and $20 million. If we prorate what we know about his financial profile with a celeb like Matthew Perry, who is apparently worth $120 million and owns a $15-million home, Fillion's place would probably be worth about a million.

Nathan Fillion makes most of his money from TV

Nathan Fillion's humility belies his stature in Hollywood, with fans finding the actor relatable, down-to-earth, and to more rabid followers, easy on the eyes. He's still single, despite some romances with the likes of "General Hospital" star Vanessa Marcil and "Entourage" actor Perrey Reeves, although he's rarely transparent about his relationships.

Ditto for his nest egg, which might likely be around Celebrity Net Worth's magic number of $20 million if we add up his earnings over the years. That said, he's never revealed the value of his home or any other exorbitant assets and investments. But, having been born in 1971, Fillion already has a good idea of what his retirement plan might look like. "I'm from Canada, western Canada," he said on Michael Rosenbaum's podcast. "I'd like to retire with a place there, but I'd also like a place off in Europe, somewhere a little warmer. I'd like a place somewhere south where I could do some easy scuba diving. I would like to have little places that I frequent and just go between." 

And who knows? If retirement puts him back in his hometown, maybe for kicks, he'll once again don that Tarzan costume.