Without naming the movie or her male co-star, actress Amanda Seyfried told the Sunday Times that she was recently paid far less than the man she starred with in a major film. “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,” she said. “And we were pretty even in status.”
One of her most recent roles in a big budget film was playing Cosette in Les Misérables opposite actor Eddie Redmayne. She is also in this year’s “Ted 2” movie with Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane.
“It’s not about how much you get; it’s about how fair it is,” she continued. “You have to decide if you’re willing to walk away from something, especially as a woman.” But some women, even in Hollywood, don’t know they’re making less than the men they work with until much later.
Seyfried chalked up her lower pay to the fact that “people think that just because I’m easy going and game to do things, I’ll just take as little as they offer.” But she is certainly not the only woman in Hollywood dealing with a pay gap. Leaked emails from the hack on Sony showed that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle’s two female leads, were each getting 7 percent of back-end profits, while the three male stars and the male director all got 9 percent, despite the fact that Adams had been nominated for four Academy Awards and Lawrence had won one.
The hack also revealed that Charlize Theron was making millions less for “The Huntsman” than her male co-star Chris Hemsworth, so she negotiated a $10 million raise.
More recently, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda revealed that while they are the main characters and headliners for their new show Grace and Frankie, the male supporting actors, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, are getting paid the same amount. “The show is not ‘Sol and Robert’ [Sheen and Waterston’s characters],” Tomlin said, “it’s ‘Grace and Frankie.’”
Female actors on the whole tend to make a good deal less than male ones, even when they’re just as successful. On Forbes’s list of the highest-paid actors, the men make a collective $465 million while the women make $181 million. The very highest paid, Robert Downey Jr., makes more than what the two top-paid actresses, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence, make combined. Part of the problem is that women are given far fewer chances to star as protagonists, snagging that role in just 12 percent of 2014’s top-grossing movies. But it’s not for poor financial performance, given that in 2013, movies centered around female actors grossed nearly a third more on average than those centered on a man.
Certainly many of these women aren’t hurting for money. But they prove the point that even when women make it into the best paying roles, they still face a gender gap. That’s also true of female CEOs and executives. Women make less than men, on average, in virtually every single kind of job there is.
In the Sunday Times interview, Seyfried talked about other forms of sexism she’s had to deal with in Hollywood. “People see my face and they think it’s a prize,” she said. “It’s something to win, something to get. I’m not a real person to them.”