‘We Need To Be Made Equal’: From Meryl Streep To Ryan Reynolds, Stars Discuss The Hollywood Pay Gap

Stars speak out about the Hollywood pay gap.

Today we learned that UK companies failing to address pay differences between male and female employees will be highlighted in new league tables.

But the disparity in what is paid to men and women is an issue across the board, in work places around the country, the world,  and even in Hollywood.

From Gwyneth Paltrow to Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Lisa Kudrow stars have come out in their scores to address the issue, whereby women are often paid millions of pounds less than their male counterparts.

Check out these actresses (and actors) sticking up for women’s rights…

Sharon Stone has revealed that the issue has been around for years: ‘After Basic Instinct, no one wanted to pay me. I remember sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying I’m not going to work until I get paid. I still got paid so much less than any men.’ Sharon added that equal pay, ‘has to start with regular pay, not just for movie stars, but regular pay for the regular woman in the regular job.’

Gillian Anderson revealed she was initially offered half of her co-star David Duchovny’s fee for her work in the upcoming The X Files reboot. She said: ‘Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced. It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past, to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it. Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, “I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.” And my response always was, “That was then, this is now.” And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it.’

Meryl Streep, aka the most Oscar nominated actress (or actor) of all time, recently revealed she has been paid less than her male counterparts: ‘We have to be made equal. I will say that it [the pay gap] has to do with the distribution of films and how films are financed. The top ten buyers in the United States for films – for every territory – there is not one woman. Men and women have different tastes sometimes but if the people that are choosing what goes out into the multiplexes are all of one persuasion, the choice will be limited and then that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, you see?’

Gwyneth Paltrow hit back at the Hollywood pay gap after revealing that she earns substantially less than her Iron Man co-star Robert Downey Junior: ‘It can be painful,’ Gwynnie said. ‘Your salary is a way to quantify what you’re worth. If men are being paid a lot more for doing the same thing, it feels shitty.’ The actress qualified: ‘Look, nobody is worth the money that Robert Downey Jr is worth, but if I told you the disparity, you would probably be surprised.’

Lisa Kudrow said that the problem potentially stems from the agents: ‘An actor is not the one on the phone saying, “what’s he getting? I should get the same thing.”’

Chris Evans (the Captain America star rather not the Top Gear host) has said men need to pipe up as much as women about the Hollywood pay gap. Speaking to Chelsea Handler on Netflix, he said ‘you can’t stick your head in the ground like that. Being a guy, it’s a radically different landscape. I think there is a gender gap that is ubiquitous in Hollywood, and I think a lot of times it’s hard to even identify. It’s not even about the contracts [or pay]. If you look at that project there’s probably about nine roles guy roles and one girl role. So even before you get to the point of money there’s already an issue going on underneath.’

Amanda Seyfried revealed that she once found out she was being paid just a fraction of her male counterpart: ‘A few years ago, on one of my big-budget films, I found I was being paid 10 per cent of what my male co-star was getting, and we were pretty even in status.’ She continued: ‘I think people think because I’m easygoing and game to do things, I’ll just take as little as they offer. But it’s not about how much you get, it’s about how fair it is.’

In the latest issue of Marie Claire, Ryan Reynolds told us that he feels for his wife Blake Lively as she does not get the same benefits he does. He said: ‘It’s absolutely something that needs to be addressed. It’s a multi-faceted problem because it’s not just in film it’s in many industries. It’s frustrating. I watch my wife go through it, I watch her deal with that to a certain extent and I want for her what I’ve benefitted from for years. There needs to be some equality.’

Charlize Theron fought back when she found out that Chris Hemsworth was being paid more than her for the Snow White and The Huntsman sequel: ‘I have to give them credit because once I asked, they said yes,’ she said, ‘They did not fight it. And maybe that’s the message: That we just need to put our foot down. This is a good time for us to bring this to a place of fairness, and girls need to know that being a feminist is a good thing. It doesn’t mean that you hate men. It means equal rights. If you’re doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way.’

Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress at the 2015 Oscars to say that the pay gap needs to be addressed not just in Hollywood but across the United States: ‘To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.’

Keira Knightley says it’s not just about pay but about the lack of female-centric stories in Hollywood in general: ‘Where are the female stories? Where are they? Where are the directors, where are the writers? It’s imbalanced, so given that we are half the cinema-going public, we are half the people [who] watch drama or watch anything else, where is that? So yes, I think the pay is a huge thing, but I’m actually more concerned over the lack of our voices being heard.’

Carey Mulligan says she’s ‘sure’ her male counterparts are regularly paid more than her, adding: ‘It’s proven now, as opposed to just being a theory. We know that women are paid less. Our producer on the film talks about when she applied to be a dishwasher at her local restaurant and it was advertised as 50 pence for men and 30 pence an hour for women, and that was only in the ‘60s or ‘70s.’

She also spoke out about J-Law’s pay gap letter, saying ‘I think it’s a good thing for someone like Jennifer to speak out; it means an awful lot to women. Sure, there’s been cynicism toward her speaking out and the fact that she makes a lot of money, but she is completely and selflessly rising above that. [The discrepancy] is inherently unfair and she has an enormous platform to speak out against it. Men in Hollywood look up to her because she is powerful. She’s using that platform to correct something that isn’t right. It’s a long overdue conversation and it’s admirable what she has done. This is an age-old issue that’s in every part of society.’

In an interview with BBC World Service 100 Women, Hilary Swank said she’s ‘absolutely, absolutely hands down’ been paid significantly less than some of her co-stars. ‘Sometimes it’s shocking, it’s greatly shocking when you hear – you know, here’s the role, they’ve already cast the guy and this is the offer and you say “oh really” and they say and there’s nothing more, we can’t even negotiate,’ she said. ‘And then you know what they’re getting paid and that they got the money offer first, and usually they always cast the men first, and then they go to see how much money they have for the female role. And it’s astonishing.’ Talking about how to fix the issue, Hilary added: ‘I think, again, we continue to talk about it. I think people talked about it but we’re talking about it more and more and again that will always make change hopefully. I think it will be a fight but I think we can persevere.’

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