Quote worthy

Top actress salaries continue to rise. But the price isn't always right.

When Cameron Diaz signed on to lend her voice to Princess Fiona in 2001's animated fairy tale "Shrek," she earned a modest six figures for the work. But after the third installment of the Paramount/DreamWorks Animation franchise earned more than $320 million domestically, Diaz saw her paycheck balloon to more than $30 million, thanks to her generous share of the film's backend.

But even though actress salaries seem to be bigger than ever, the news this year is not how large the paychecks of Hollywood's hottest female stars have become, it is how low they are prepared to go to fill in their schedules.

While Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon are now asking for $15 million-$20 million per movie, they frequently agree to "no-quote deals" -- deals in which the studios actually pay them far less than their usual fee.

Jolie, who is believed to have made more than $20 million (including backend) for pictures like 2005's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," earned the lesser sum of around $8 million for her latest release, "Beowulf" -- the reason being that she played a supporting role in Paramount's picture, involving only a few weeks of work. Similarly, Witherspoon took a major pay cut to star in New Line's "Rendition," but asks for -- and gets -- more than $15 million per picture when she toplines a comedy. (Sources strenuously denied reports that Witherspoon is being paid as much as $29 million for her next movie, Universal's "Our Family Trouble.")

While Hollywood's list of the 10 highest-earning actresses only includes names that have dominated the screen for several years, a few promising stars are climbing up the pay scale, including Katherine Heigl, Rachel McAdams and Jennifer Garner.

Click here to read our annual breakdown of the 10 highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.

(By Michelle Grabicki)