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Actresses Who Were Paid Less Than Their Co-Stars

Updated March 1, 2021 54.4k views17 items

When you do a side-by-side comparison, actresses consistently earn significantly less than their male counterparts, making for an obvious gender pay gap in Hollywood (not to mention other industries). Patricia Arquette, in her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech for Boyhood, eloquently highlighted this discrepancy and called out Hollywood for not giving equal pay to women. Viola Davis has also been a vocal proponent, as well as Shonda Rhimes, and many, many other prominent women of Hollywood.

When the infamous Sony hack happened in late 2014, exposing the pay stubs of stars and Sony employees alike, the gender gap became glaringly clear. When Jennifer Lawrence discovered that she and Amy Adams were making less than their male co-stars (Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper) for their work on the film American Hustle, she penned an essay about it.

Charlize Theron was affected too, and was able to renegotiate her contract for The Huntsman: Winter's War once the Sony hack revealed that her co-star Chris Hemsworth was making a cool $10 million more than her. Little victories are everywhere, and the tide is starting to turn... yet Hollywood still has a long way to go toward achieving true gender equality when it comes to both available roles for women and closing the pay gap between the sexes. You might think, "What does it matter? They're making millions anyway." Yet this wage inequality, exemplified by women paid less than men in Hollywood, is symptomatic of a systemic problem, affecting women in various occupations across the board.
  • Photo: FOX

    Gillian Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter that she was offered “half” of what David Duchovny was offered to reprise her role of Scully on the reboot of The X-Files. It took her three seasons on the original The X-Files to negotiate her contract so that she was on par with Duchovny, so she initially turned down the first reboot offer. She's now being paid the same as Duchovny, but was taken aback that she had to negotiate for equal pay yet again.


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  • Photo: Universal Pictures
    Seyfried told The Sunday Times of her (it's speculated to be Mamma Mia) role: “A few years ago, on one of my big-budget films, I found I was being paid 10% of what my male co-star was getting, and we were pretty even in status,” she told the newspaper.

    “I think people think that just because I’m easy-going and game to do things I’ll just take as little as they offer … It’s not about how much you get, it’s about how fair it is,” she said, adding that actresses in particular “have to decide if you’re willing to walk away from something."

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  • Photo: Warner Bros.
    “I’ve been in films where I’ve found out my male co-star got paid double what I got paid, and it’s just a reality of the time that we live in,” she told the Guardian“To me, the thing that’s more unfair than the pay is the terminology that’s used to describe actresses who have a point of view, and want to have a voice in their life and their career, and what they choose to do,” she said. “I’ve been called horrible things. If a man was acting in the same way that I was acting, it would just be considered normal. To me, that’s the thing I find so frustrating is calling women spoiled brats and bitches. We just want to have a voice in our life, and I don’t think that’s anything that shouldn’t be encouraged in any human.”

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  • Adding insult to injury, it was for a two-person play. As Miller told British Vouge in September 2015, “It was a play with just two of us onstage and I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid. If it was two men, it wouldn’t probably happen. Sad, but I walked away... The only way is to make a stand. We are going to have to make sacrifices to make change. I want to turn up and feel dignified.”

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