Michelle Williams originally filmed her latest movie, “All the Money in the World,” with Kevin Spacey. After allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey came to light, director Ridley Scott replaced the embattled actor with Christopher Plummer.
Then, Scott got the cast — which included actor Mark Wahlberg — back together again to reshoot pivotal scenes. But the actors were compensated for their time very differently.
Wahlberg got paid millions for about 10 days of work, The Washington Post reported in November. Williams and others earned a fraction of that.
On Tuesday, USA Today reported some exact figures, revealing an enormous pay disparity between Williams, who is billed as the lead actress, and Wahlberg. Williams earned $80 per diem, adding up to less than $1,000. Wahlberg earned $1.5 million.
Williams earned a Golden Globes nomination for her role. Yet, the actress made less than one percent of her male co-star’s salary.
According to USA Today, Wahlberg’s team negotiated the reshoot fee. Reps for the movie studio, the actors and their shared agency did not comment to the outlet, nor did they months ago to The Washington Post.
Scott had previously told USA Today that the actors did the reshoots “for nothing,” and that he also didn’t get paid. Williams had also previously said she offered to be “wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me. And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”
This isn’t the first time an actress has been paid significantly less than her male counterpart. Most recently, former E! anchor Catt Sadler quit after finding out she made half as much as her male co-host. At the Golden Globes on Sunday, actresses Debra Messing and Eva Longoria questioned why the network didn’t pay up.
In fact, this is a sad Hollywood tradition:
The Sony hack in 2014 revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was paid far less than her male co-stars in the 2013 movie “American Hustle.” Lawrence had already become an international star, thanks to the 2013 movie “Hunger Games,” and she won an Oscar for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Bradley Cooper, who co-starred with Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook,” was nominated but did not win. When the two joined forces again for “American Hustle,” he still outearned her. So did actors Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner.
A year later, Lawrence wrote an essay for Lenny Letter directly addressing the pay gap, and in particular, drawing attention to the double-standards women encounter when negotiating pay. She said she was “mad at myself” because she “failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”
“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,” Lawrence 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.’”
Amy Adams also starred in “American Hustle.” She too made less than her male co-stars. In an interview with GQ, Adams said she knew about the pay discrepancy.
"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,” Adams said. “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.”
In her memoir, Taraji P. Henson wrote that she got paid “the equivalent of sofa change” compared to what costars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett received for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
At one point, Henson’s manager asked for “somewhere in the mid six figures — no doubt a mere percentage” of the millions Pitt got, but was denied. She also had to pay her own location fees while filming in New Orleans. Henson wrote:
“The math really is pretty simple: there are way more talented black actresses than there are intelligent, meaningful roles for them, and we’re consistently charged with diving for the crumbs of the scraps, lest we starve. This is exactly how a studio can get away with paying the person who’s name is third on the call sheet of a big-budget film less than 2 percent what it’s paying the person whose name is listed first. I knew the stakes: no matter how talented, no matter how many accolades my prior work had received, if I pushed for more money, I’d be replaced and no one would so much as a blink.”
Natalie Portman told Marie Claire last year that Ashton Kutcher, her co-star in the 2011 romantic comedy “No Strings Attached,” got paid three times more than her.
“I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ in Hollywood,” she said. “His [quote] was three times higher than mine so they said he should get three times more. I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy.”
She continued: “Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”
When discussing her role in “Battle of the Sexes,” Emma Stone revealed that in her career, male co-stars have taken a pay cut so that she can have parity with them.
“Hollywood works on quotes, so if somebody’s going to pay a huge actor $52 million to be in a movie or a franchise, he’s going to have a higher quote than anyone else,” Stone’s “Battle of the Sexes” co-star Andrea Riseborough explained in a 2017 Out magazine interview.
Stone continued, saying that her male co-stars voluntarily got paid, “something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily — that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.’ 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.”
In 2015, Patricia Arquette won an Oscar for her role in “Boyhood.” She ended her acceptance speech with a call-to-action that a cast a light on the pay gap across the country.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
The next year, Arquette said on the red carpet that since her speech, she has lost or had to walk away from roles.