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Actresses Who Were Paid Less Than Their Co-Stars

Updated March 1, 2021 60.5k 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: NBC
    In an interview with Variety, Griffin said, “I had the second-lowest salary on the cast. Judd Nelson made four times what I made, and he ended up getting fired.” She went to the office of Warner Bros. TV chief Peter Roth to demand a raise herself. “It was an all-out brawl,” says Griffin. “I got a raise,” she says. “I still didn’t make equal to what the guys were making.”

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  • Photo: 20th Century Fox
    Jessica Chastain has said in interviews that she made “less than a quarter” of what the press reported as her salary on The Martian. The blog The Playlist did some digging - according to that math, she would have made around $1.75 million for the film. Sound good? Just compare that to Matt Damon's potential salary range of $15 to $25 million.

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  • Photo: Universal Pictures
    Even the legendary Meryl Streep has been paid less than her male co-stars, as she revealed in an interview with the BBC, fittingly enough at the premiere of The Suffragette. She's also famously spoken out about "women's issues being men's issues."

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  • Photo: Sony Pictures Studios
    Amy Adams, in an interview with GQ magazine, said that she realized that she was making less than Bale and Cooper on American Hustle, but took the job anyway. “Yeah, I did. I didn’t speak about it before and I’m probably not going to speak about it forever, because I disagreed with... not Jennifer per se, but people who had opinions on how women should go about negotiating. The truth is we hire people to negotiate on our behalf, men and women... I knew I was being paid less and I still agreed to do it because the option comes down to do it or don’t do it. So you just have to decide if it’s worth it for you. It doesn’t mean I liked it.”

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