Shortly after the 2014 Sony hack , it was revealed, among other things, that Jennifer Lawrence made less money than co-star Jeremy Renner in American Hustle. The problem: Lawrence was a proven box-office draw, and had a more substantial role in the film than Renner, who isn’t even an A-list actor.
In a 2015 essay published on Lena Dunham’s website, Lawrence commented on the pay gap. “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d***s, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”
In response, Sony Pictures chief, Amy Pascal - who was fired soon after the hack - said at a 2015 conference, “Here’s the problem: I run a business. People want to work for less money, I pay them less money. I don’t call them up and say, “Can I give you some more?”
She did, however, add, “I’ve paid (Lawrence) a lot more money since then, I promise you.” What Pascal is possibly referring to is Lawrence’s rumoured $20 million salary for the 2016 sci-fi film, Passengers - a salary Forbes speculated, “was arguably intended to be symbolic.”
So on Jennifer Lawrence’s 27th birthday, let’s continue the discussion she has started, by taking a look at other female actors who were paid less than their male counterparts.
Angelina Jolie - Brad Pitt
Before their acrimonious split in late 2016, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were bonafide A-listers. The duo first starred opposite each other in 2005’s Mr & Mrs Smith, the same year they became romantically involved. They wouldn’t star in a movie together until 2015’s By the Sea. According to Movie Pilot, Pitt pocketed $20 million for his role, but Jolie made only half of that.
Halle Berry - John Travolta
It could be argued that Travolta’s star was on the decline in 2001, when Swordfish was released. And yet, he was paid $20 million for his part, while Berry - who, after starring as Storm in X-Men, had become a household name the previous year, and who would go on to win an Oscar in 2002 - was paid only $2.5 million for Swordfish (including $500,000 for flashing her breasts).
Julia Roberts - Richard Gere
Ironically, Julia Roberts didn’t make a lot of money for the movie that would put her on the map. While she would go on to demand salaries in the vicinity of $20 million a few years later (she made $7 million for Hook in 1991), she was paid $300,000 for Pretty Woman. Richard Gere, who was at the peak of his stardom in the ‘90s, was making around $5 million per movie.
Natalie Portman - Ashton Kutcher
Just one year after winning an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan, Natalie Portman’s co-star, Ashton Kutcher, made three times more money than her in No Strings Attached. “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,” Portman told People. “I knew and I went along with it. His quote was three times higher than mine, so they said he should get three times more.”
Kutcher even congratulated Portman on Twitter for speaking up about the issue.
Gillian Anderson - David Duchovny
After fighting for equal pay during the X-Files original run in the ‘90s, Gillian Anderson was shocked when she was offered “half” of Duchovny’s salary for a proposed reboot of the series. “It was shocking to me given all the work that I had done in the past to get paid fairly, especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of unequal pay in our business,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
Robin Wright - Kevin Spacey
Robin Wright was initially paid less than her on screen husband Kevin Spacey for House of Cards. In 2014, Spacey was making $500,000 per episode, while Wright was making $420,000. But things changed by 2016, when Wright demanded equal pay. “I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin,’” she told Variety. “I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than (Frank’s) for a period of time. So I capitalised on it. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public.’”