Actresses Who Discuss Being Paid Less Than Their Male Co-Star

Some stars make consistant blockbusters yet other a-list stars choose films for money rather than the script. Tom Hanks for example never commits to a sequel in the first contract and can ask for alot more money to star in the sequel…clever hey?

Some actresses are up there at the top of the most requested starsm but men dominate the film industry, will often fight for more money and have better star power and the worlds best agents, publictists and contacts.

With that said I still believe woman at the top of their game should be earning decent money but Scarlett Johansson who is no longer in favour would never get the fee that Tom Cruise would command and rightly so.

Should the stars all have an equal role with the same experience and star power then yes pay them the same but like footballers, you cannot compare Messi to Vardy. and pay them the same!

The gender pay gap is still a big issue around the world, this is no different in the entertainment industry. It’s not uncommon in the film industry for male leads to make more money than female leads. This has sometimes happened when the second billing male actor or supporting cast has made me more than the lead due to their gender.

Now in the post #MeToo world, actresses are speaking up about the pay gap, calling out studios and actors for making significantly more for less work. Even in 2022, actresses are still talking about being paid less, with pay inequality scandals linked to the Jurassic World franchise and Don’t Worry Darling (which director Olivia Wilde denies). So, what have some of the most famous actresses in the industry said about making less than their co-star.

17 Michelle Williams Wasn’t Surprised About Being Paid Less

On Equal Pay Day 2019, the Brokeback Mountain actress took to Capitol Hill to discuss the gender pay gap.

She was famously paid $1,000 to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million for reshoots of their film All the Money in the World. Wahlberg would later donate his compensation to a women’s organization in William’s owner.

“No one cared,” she said in regards to the Getty biopic in 2017. “This came as no surprise to me, it simply reinforced my life-learned belief that equality is not an inalienable right and that women would always be working just as hard for less money while shouldering more responsibility at home.”

Related: The Truth About Actress Michelle Williams’ Messy Relationship History

After the story gained traction in the press, she said, “I could tell my workplace was shifting. Rather than being grasped too tightly or hugged for too long as a morning greeting, my hand was shaken, and I was looked squarely in the eye, and I was welcomed to my Monday morning.”

“On the job I just completed two weeks ago, I have to tell you, I was paid equally with my male costar,” she added.

16 Jennifer Lawrence Didn’t Want To Seem Spoiled When Paid Less

After it was revealed in the 2014 Sony hack that Jennifer Lawrence had earned less money than her male costars in American Hustle, she reflected on why she hadn’t fought for more money in an essay for Lenny Letter.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being difficult or spoiled.”

She once again spoke about the pay disparity in 2021, after it was revealed she made $5 million less than Don’t Look Up co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Look, Leo brings in more box office than I do. I’m extremely fortunate and happy with my deal,” she told Vanity Fair. “But in other situations, what I have seen — and I’m sure other women in the workforce have seen as well — is that it’s extremely uncomfortable to inquire about equal pay. And if you do question something that appears unequal, you’re told it’s not gender disparity, but they can’t tell you what exactly it is.”

15 Jessica Alba Realizes Gender Wage Gap Is Not A Film Exclusive Issue

Jessica Alba has said that she identified with Jennifer Lawrence’s experiences of being paid less than her co-stars.

“Women don’t get equal pay,” she told Cosmopolitan. “There are not as many women in government positions or business positions. It’s just not equal. And until there is equality, you’re going to feel that, in any industry. But I was like, girls should have an equal seat at the table.”

“Take Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, she’s opening films – she’s the box-office draw just as much as any guy, if not more. She should be compensated for that.”

14 Ellen Pompeo Was Paid Less Than Patrick Dempsey

She may have been the lead of one of TV’s most iconic shows but Ellen Pompeo has been outspoken about being paid less than her on-screen love interest Patrick Dempset.

“At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me,” the actress told The Hollywood Reporter.

“And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted, but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.'”

Related: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Ellen Pompeo On The Sexist Reason Shonda Rhimes Invented ‘Vajayjay’

Once Dempsey left the show, Pompeo signed a deal in 2017 making her the highest-earning actress on a TV drama.

She made $575,000 per episode, along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the series, estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million.

13 Taraji P Henson Thought The Gender Wage Gap Didn’t Make Sense

In an interview with Variety, the Hidden Figures actress spoke about how she asked for $500,000 for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — a part that earned her an Academy Award nomination — but she was paid just $150,000.

“I’m number three on the call sheet. Does that make sense to you?” she told the publication.

She admitted she didn’t expect to make as much as Brad Pitt — “I don’t open movies like he does,” she explained — she did talk about a time she turned down work over stalled salary negotiations.

12 Octavia Spencer Was Helped By Jessica Chastain With Her Wage Gap

Octavia Spencer has spoken out multiple times about being paid less than her costars.

“I have to say, when I was negotiating my deal for Madam C.J., [executive producer] LeBron James had to intervene,” Spencer said in 2019 “So we need all our male counterparts to be in the fight with us.”

In 2018, Spencer revealed that her The Help costar Jessica Chastain helped her get paid five times more than originally quoted on a project they were starring in together by linking their salaries.

“I think my goal is to make sure that all women of color get equal pay, and all women get equal pay,” Spencer explained. “The only way to do it is to have these conversations, to talk numbers with your costars. Jessica and I stood together, and that was interesting that she would take that position — well, I mean, she is Jessica Chastain — but we also need advocates and allies in negotiating.”

11 Emma Stone Needed Men To Have A Pay Cut Amid Gender Wage Gap

In an interview with Out Magazine, the Oscar winner spoke out about the gender pay gap in the film industry, and how some of her male costars have been willing to help out. “In my career so far, I’ve needed my male costars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” she explained. “And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair.”

She added, “If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life.”

10 Sandra Bullock Thinks The Wage Gap Is “Bigger Than Money”

The Oscar-winning actress sees the issue of wage inequality as “bigger than money” but rather an entire system of discrimination.

“I know we’re focused on the money part right now. That’s just a by-product,” Sandra Bullock told Variety. “I keep saying, ‘Why is it that no one is standing up and saying you can’t say that about a woman?’ We’re mocked and judged in the media and articles.”

“Really, how men are described in articles versus women, there’s a big difference. I always make a joke: ‘Watch, we’re going to walk down the red carpet, I’m going to be asked about my dress and my hair while the man standing next to me will be asked about his performance and political issues.’ ”

“If you want a discount performance, go get it,” she added. “They’re out there. But you’re not getting it from me. I deliver, and I have the track record to prove it.”

9 Meryl Streep Thinks Men Are Ashamed At Being Paid More

The iconic actress candidly spoke about the gender pay gap in Hollywood in a 2016 interview with Time, saying, “Men are ashamed that they’re getting that money. It used to be, everybody didn’t say anything about it, so it was kind of fine. Now they’re a little more nervous that somebody will find out what they make vis-a-vis their co-star.”

“That’s the best vigilance: the vigilance of privilege,” she added. “People will always be battling and whining about it. When the other side says, ‘You know, I think that sucks’—that’s great.”

8 Natalie Portman Was Angered At Getting Paid Less Than Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher made triple Natalie Portman’s salary for the rom-com No Strings Attached.

“I wasn’t as p***** as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy,” Portman said to Marie Claire U.K. “Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”

Portman became a vocal supporter of Time’s Up, speaking up about inequality and sexual violence in the industry.

7 Dakota Fanning Finds The Gender Wage Gap Frustrating

Dakota Fanning spoke to Elle Canada about the gender wage gap in the entertainment industry.

“It’s frustrating that you still have to talk about it,” she explained. “As part of my school, I’ve studied lots of different periods, and if you go back to, like, The Taming of the Shrew, it’s talking about the disparity between genders, and it’s crazy that we still haven’t cracked that.”

6 Emmy Rossum Fought For Equal Pay on Shameless

Emmy Rossum made headlines after she fought for equal pay while working on Shameless. She believed her pay should be higher than her male co-star William H. Macy.

“She works as hard as I do . . . she deserves everything,” Macy Tweeted.

After the hacked Sony emails revealed pay disparities in Hollywood in 2014, Charlize Theron fought for the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman.

“I have to give them credit because once I asked, they said yes,” she told Elle UK. “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.”

“I am in a position where I could put my foot down and say, I want equal pay to my male co-star, who I had billed another movie with,” she said in regards to being paid the same as Chris Hemsworth.

4 Viola Davis Advocates For Women Of Color

Viola Davis has been a vocal advocate for equal pay for women of color.

“I have to be honest with you. I believe in equal pay, first of all,” she explained. “I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That’s just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? ‘You’ve got to just understand that you’re a girl. You have a vagina, so that’s not as valuable.’ What are you telling her?”

Related: Fans Side With Emily Ratajkowski As She Calls Out Megan Fox’s Sexist Role

The actress added, “But at the same time, with me as an actress of color, I have to say to probably contradict myself, that’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Because the struggle for us as women of color is just to be seen the same as our white female counterparts.”

3 Bryce Dallas Howard’s Co-Star Helped Her Renegotiate Wages

Bryce Dallas Howard revealed that she was paid “so much less” than Chris Pratt for the Jurassic Park films.

But in 2018, Variety reported that Howard was paid $2 million less than Pratt for the second movie, Fallen Kingdom, but she later revealed the difference was much more.

She added that she discussed the pay gap with her co-star Pratt, and that the Guardians of the Galaxy actor pushed for Howard to receive equal pay on other franchise opportunities that were not already contractually binding, for example spinoff video games and theme-park rides.

“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,'” Howard said.

2 Patricia Arquette Demands Equal Pay

Patricia Arquette used her 2015 Oscars acceptance speech to demand equal pay.

“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 our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said to a thunderous applause.

Arquette still finds herself fighting for equal pay in her acting work, admitting that she’ has “walked away from several jobs” because she was offered lower pay than male costars.

1 Gillian Anderson

When The X-Files originally aired, the studio made Gillian Anderson stand behind David Duchovny on camera, so that they wouldn’t appear side-by-side, she told The Daily Beast. When it returned in 2016, she was offered half of Duchovny’s pay.

“I’m surprised that more [interviewers] haven’t brought that up because it’s the truth,” Anderson told the Daily Beast in 2018. “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.”

Her fight paid off in the end: She eventually took home the same amount as Duchovny for the new episodes of the show, sources told the Daily Beast in 2017.

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Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email

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