Actresses Who Were Paid Less Than Their Co-Stars
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.
Michelle Williams Was Paid Less Than 1% Of Mark Wahlberg's Wage For 'All The Money in the World'
A mini-controversy erupted in January 2018 over the pay gap between Michelle Williams and her All the Money in the World co-star Mark Wahlberg. During re-shoots for the 2017 crime thriller All the Money in the World, Williams received less than 1% of Wahlberg's wages. To make amends, Wahlberg announced he would donate his $1.5 million re-shoot fee to the Time's Up legal defense fund in Williams's name. Williams later made a statement expressing gratitude to Wahlberg, as well as all the men and women who had spoken out about sexism and sexual harassment in Hollywood.
- Photo: Jurassic World Dominion / Universal Pictures
According to at 2018 Variety report, Bryce Dallas Howard earned $8 million for the 2018 film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (second in the Jurassic World trilogy) while her co-star Chris Pratt earned $10 million. But in a 2022 interview the year its sequel, Jurassic World Dominion, was released, Howard told Insider the pay gap was even larger:
The reports were so interesting because I was paid so much less than the reports even said, so much less. When I started negotiating for Jurassic, it was 2014, and it was a different world, and I was at a great disadvantage. And, unfortunately, you have to sign up for three movies, and so your deals are set.
Howard said Pratt supported her, pushing for her to earn more on financial opportunities outside the contract:
What I will say is that Chris and I have discussed it, and whenever there was an opportunity to move the needle on stuff that hadn't been already negotiated, like a game or a ride, he literally told me: “You guys don't even have to do anything. I'm gonna do all the negotiating. We're gonna be paid the same, and you don't have to think about this, Bryce.”
- Photo: YouTube
In 2016, Robin Wright finally negotiated for equal pay on the critically acclaimed Netflix drama House of Cards. In 2014, Kevin Spacey, who plays Wright's calculating husband Frank Underwood on the show, made $500,000 per episode. That made him one of the highest paid actors on TV. Wright, however, was not paid as much, despite winning a Golden Globe for best actress that year.
When salary negotiations began for the 2016 season, Wright threatened to go public with the pay inequality if her earnings did not mach Spacey's. It helped that she'd recently learned that her character (Claire Underwood) was as popular with viewers as Frank. "I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” she explainnd. "And they did."
Disney insiders reported that Harrison Ford earned between $10 million and $20 million to reprise his famous role as the swashbuckling hero Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a reported 50 times more than co-star, Daisy Ridley, who only received between $100 to $300,000 for her starring role in the film.
When Sony was hacked, it was revealed that Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner received a 9% cut of profits from American Hustle, while Lawrence and Amy Adams took just 7%. Lawrence famously penned an essay, "Why Do I Earn Less Than My Male Co-Stars?" for Lena Dunham's online magazine, Lenny Letter. “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d*cks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote. “I got mad at myself… I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”
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 X Files to negotiate her contract so that she was on par with Duchovny, so she initially turned down the first reboot offer. She was then paid the same as Duchovny, but was taken aback that she had to negotiate for equal pay yet again.