Jessica Chastain once lost a huge Hollywood role for asking for equal pay with her male co-star

"I’m not allowing that in my life"

Jessica Chastain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Hollywood wage gap has been a huge talking point recently, with a string of major Hollywood actresses addressing the issue and speaking out about their own personal experiences.

Jessica Chastain was one of the first A-listers to make her voice heard all those years ago, shedding some much-needed light on the gender pay gap in Hollywood.

The Academy Award winning actress, now 46, used her voice to address the issue, once revealing to Variety that she lost a major film role by demanding the same pay as her male co-star.

"It was an old-fashioned problem of the wage gap", Chastain explained to Variety. "I turned it down, and they didn’t come back."

She continued: "Afterwards I was like, 'What did I do? Maybe it was a mistake?' But it wasn’t, because everyone in the studio system heard what I did. What you’re doing is creating a reputation – 'Don’t bring Jessica something where she’s not being fairly compensated compared to the male actor.'"

Chastain went on to state that she asks for fair pay in comparison with her male counterparts before agreeing to work on a project, explaining why she won’t work for less than them.

"I’m not taking jobs any more where I’m getting paid a quarter of what the male co-star is being paid", she explained. "I’m not allowing that in my life. I ask what they’re offering me in comparison to the guy. I don’t care about how much I get paid – I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do. But I don’t want to be on a set where I’m doing the same work as someone else and they’re getting five times what I’m getting."

Jessica Chastain’s opinion on sexism in Hollywood proved popular with most people rallying behind her, but according to the actress, one director who she admired said quite the contrary.

"I had one male director say to me that I talk too much about all of this 'women stuff'", Jessica told in-flight magazine American Way. "This is a person I love, and maybe he was concerned I would hurt my career."

She continued: "I’m not attacking anyone. I’m trying to create more inclusiveness, compassion and empathy – which in turn makes better movies, better art. I just don’t know why it’s not changing. I’m doing my part to make the change, so why isn’t everyone else?"

We will continue to update this story. 

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.