Wage disparities in the film industry happen all the time. Depending on the level of fame or influence someone has, they can demand more money for their roles. The gap is made even worse by the fact that women are usually paid less than men for any role, and top-billed movies can be the worst culprits. Almost every well-known actress, from Gal Gadot to Michelle Williams, has suffered from the cruel wage gap, and they often just have to deal with it in order to keep landing roles, but that hasn’t stopped them from speaking out about the grievances.
We all know that the wage gap exists in every industry, not just in Hollywood. Women are typically paid about 80 percent of what men are paid, according to the Pew Research Center. And actors of every gender often bring home large sums of money, regardless of the differences in pay between the men and women. However, it’s still pretty unbelievable that some of our favorite movies might not have paid their female leads what they deserved.
1. All the Money in the World
All the Money in the World received some heat in the height of the #MeToo movement because it originally cast Kevin Spacey in a supporting role. When Spacey was accused of sexual assault, the film’s director, Ridley Scott, decided to recast Spacey’s role and replace him with Christopher Plummer after the entire film had already been shot. Of course, the actors involved with the film agreed to reshoot the necessary scenes for a fraction of their initial salary. However, after the reshoots, USA Today reported that Michelle Williams, the female lead in the film, received just under $1,000 total for the trouble, while her co-star Mark Wahlberg received around $1.5 million. That’s less than one-tenth of her male’s salary, despite the fact that they both played leading roles.
2. American Hustle
It’s pretty safe to say that the American Hustle cast is full of big names. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence star beside Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner in this period piece about a con man and an FBI agent forced to work for the mafia. The movie was green-lit for production around the time that the first Hunger Games movie gained intense popularity, so you’d think that J-Law might be the top-billed actor in the film. Wrong. Thanks to the Sony hacks in 2014, The Daily Beast found emails between Lawrence and the heads of the production company discussing her payment for the film. While the male leads on the film received nine percent of the movie’s earnings, Adams and Lawrence received just seven percent, even though the women were just as popular (if not more popular) at the time.
3. No Strings Attached
In an interview with Marie Claire UK, Natalie Portman revealed that she was paid three times less than her co-star Ashton Kutcher for filming the rom-com No Strings Attached. While some actresses aren’t aware of the disparity between them and their male co-stars at the time of filming, Portman said she knew about it and still went along with it. “There’s this thing with quotes in Hollywood. His was three times higher than mine, so they said he should get three times more,” she told Marie Claire. It’s true that quotes determine the pay scale for each actor on a film, in addition to the importance of the role that they are playing. But at this time, Portman was raking in awards for her part in Black Swan, making her a pretty desirable female lead in the industry, so she was probably worth more than they paid for her.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Daisy Ridley has quickly become a star with her role as Rey in the new Star Wars films. Admit it, the films may feature some fan favorites from the old films, but Ridley and her co-star John Boyega stole the show. Still, it makes sense that an established actor like Harrison Ford might make a little more money for a film from a franchise that he’s led since he was young. Sources, including Variety, reported that Ford took home somewhere between $10 million to $20 million for this flick, while Ridley took home around $450,000. That’s 20 to 40 times more than his young co-star — a huge difference, even for two actors with different levels of star power. Ford even earned significantly more than his co-star Carrie Fisher (it’s reported that she made a low seven-figure salary), who reprised her role of Princess Leia and has been a part of the franchise for just as long as Ford.
5. The Martian
Before The Martian, Jessica Chastain made a name for herself (and earned countless awards in the process) for her roles in films such as The Help, Lawless and Zero Dark Thirty. That didn’t save her from being a victim of the gender wage gap, though. For her work on The Martian, Chastain earned $18 million less than her co-star Matt Damon despite the fact that she also plays a lead role. While Damon earned around $25 million for the film, Chastain took home just $7 million. Of course, these numbers are both massive — but we can’t ignore the disparity. Damon, who rose to fame for his roles in films like Saving Private Ryan and Good Will Hunting, deserves to demand a hefty price for his work, but so does Chastain.
6. Snow White and the Huntsman
Charlize Theron made headlines in 2015 for demanding that she receive the same pay as her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth, for her role as Ravenna in The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The Mad Max star was able to take home over $10 million, just like Hemsworth, because of her demands. For the first film, Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize didn’t negotiate this deal. She said that the Sony hack revelation about the stars of American Hustle encouraged her to fight for her worth on the Snow White and the Huntsman prequel. “When I thought about the temperature out there — with finding out what Jennifer and Amy were being paid on a set with guy actors who are their counterparts … They’re just as good as any of the guys on there, yeah, that pissed me off!” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
7. Iron Man
There’s no doubt that Robert Downey, Jr. is the ultimate star of the Iron Man films (and arguably the entire MCU), and Tony Stark just couldn’t be played by anyone else. Even Gwyneth Paltrow, who played Pepper Potts, agrees. In an interview with Page Six, she said “Look, nobody is worth the money that Robert Downey Jr. is worth.” But any true Marvel fan can attest to the fact that the Iron Man films just wouldn’t be the same without Pepper Potts. While their wages for Iron Man aren’t public knowledge, Paltrow also told Page Six that “if I told you the disparity, you would probably be surprised.” Not only does she bring her talents to the MCU, she’s starred in a number of popular films such as Shakespeare in Love and Shallow Hal to prove that she’s worth just as much as any man.
8. Something’s Gotta Give
Apparently, no woman is safe from the wage gap in Hollywood — not even Diane Keaton. Definitely one of the biggest actresses in the film industry througho8ut the years, she’s starred in everything from The Godfather to Annie Hall. In 2003, she starred in the film Something’s Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson. Her role was much larger than his, but she revealed in her memoir that she still made significantly less than he did. She didn’t reveal her complete salary for the film, but she said that she received no back-end for the film — a percentage of the money that the film grosses — but Nicholson did. Nicholson attempted to make things right by sending her part of his check, but her influence alone should have secured her own back-end payments for the role.
9. Dear John? (Speculation)
We all know Amanda Seyfried from her roles in Les Miserables, Dear John and Mamma Mia. She steals the show in almost every movie she appears in, but in 2015 she told The Sunday Times that she still gets paid less than her male co-stars. “A few years ago, on one of my big-budget films, I found I was being paid 10 percent of what my male co-star was getting, and we were pretty even in status,” she said in the interview. She never revealed which film she was talking about, but there’s been speculation that it could have been Dear John, in which she starred alongside Channing Tatum in 2010.
10. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Long before Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married, they were co-stars. In 2005, they starred in the drama-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith about a married couple who unknowingly work as assassins for opposing agencies. Both Pitt and Jolie were at the height of their fame when they filmed this movie. Pitt starred in Ocean’s Eleven and Jolie landed roles in films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Actually, multiple years before Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jolie earned an Academy Award for her role in Girl, Interrupted. Despite their equal starpower and Jolie’s accolades, she still made less than Pitt for her role. According to The Huffington Post, Pitt made about $20 million for his role, while Jolie made about half of that. That’s some B.S.
Swordfish may not be the most well-known movie that Halle Berry and John Travolta have done, but it’s a pretty important one when it comes to how females are treated in the film industry. Travolta has been a household name since the ’70s, when he starred in films such as Grease and Saturday Night Fever, so it makes sense that his salary might be a bit higher than his co-stars’ – male and female. However, the 2001 action thriller nabbed Berry after her debut as Storm in X-Men, making her a pretty desirable leading lady. Still, she was only paid $2.5 million for the film, while Travolta earned about $20 million, according to The Huffington Post. In fact, she only earned as much as she did because she took a $500,000 bonus to show her breasts on camera in the film… Yeah, spoiler alert, the entertainment industry is sexist AF.
12. Fast and Furious
As the only leading woman in the Fast and Furious franchise, it might seem like Michelle Rodriguez should be just as valued as her male counterparts. Sure, the franchise has featured popular male actors such as Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Ludacris, but Rodriguez has been a part of the films since the beginning. Her character, Letty, receives tons of screen time and is involved in the story just as much as any of the men. While their exact salaries aren’t available, we’re sure they’ve made a hefty sum to appear in the films. In 2016, Rodriguez admitted to TMZ that she is paid less than her male counterparts. “That’s the world we live in, it’s a patriarchal society,” she said.
13. Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman is an iconic film. It’s Julia Roberts’ most famous role, but it’s also the role for which she earned the least. According to IMDb, she was paid $300,000 for the 1990 film. Richard Gere’s exact salary is unknown, but he was regularly earning millions per movie at the time — so it’s estimated that he made a few million for this one, too. Roberts quickly became one of the world’s highest-paid actresses in the years after this role, and she also makes millions per movie now. Variety reported that she made $3 million for just four days of acting on the film Mother’s Day. However, considering she’s essentially the star of Pretty Woman, it’s strange that she was paid so little for such an iconic.
14. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Diane Keaton isn’t the only one with a memoir that reveals secrets about Hollywood’s wage gap. In her memoir, Taraji P. Henson describes how she found out that she would be paid less than two percent of the salary that her co-star Brad Pitt would be earning for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She wrote that her manager told her the news by saying: “they came in at the lowest of six figures. I convinced them to add in a little more, but that’s as high as they’d go.” Not only did she earn far less, she also had to pay her own location fees while filming in New Orleans, which totaled to about three months of hotel expenses. Henson played the adoptive mother of Pitt’s character in the film and scored a best supporting actress nomination for her role.
15. Wonder Woman
Arguably the best movie to come out of DC Comics since The Dark Knight trilogy, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman grossed over $800 million worldwide, according to IMDb. Despite her promising performance in Batman v. Superman, she was only paid $300,000 for her role in Wonder Woman. While her salary was generally on par with other superheroes for their first leading film (Chris Evans made about the same for the first Captain America), it’s estimated that her co-star and love interest Chris Pine made significantly more – which is crazy considering the movie is hers. Though his salary for this particular film wasn’t revealed, he typically brings in millions for his roles, according to Romper. Gadot also signed a contract for two Wonder Woman sequels for the same pay rate, so it doesn’t seem like her salary will be increasing any time soon. *Eye roll*
16. The Notebook
The Notebook may just be one of the most iconic love stories in movie history, so it’s a bit disappointing that Rachel McAdams was paid way less than Ryan Gosling for her role. In 2004, McAdams was fresh out of filming Mean Girls (which soon became pretty much every millennial’s fave flick), and Gosling had filmed a series of movies in the past few years, including Remember the Titans. However, neither had reached the height of their fame yet. Though both McAdams and Gosling were cast in The Notebook when they were relatively unknown, Gosling still managed to earn double the pay for his role. While he earned around $1 million for the romance film, McAdams took home about $500,000. …WTF?!