A growing number of big-deal actresses are just real, real tired of making less money than Bradley Cooper, and willing to say so publicly. After Jennifer Lawrence’s open letter regarding pay inequality, both Jessica Chastain and Rooney Mara have fed-up things to say about the wage gap in their industry.
Mara told the Guardian that making less than her male co-stars is “frustrating.” Like Lawrence, though, she struck a kind of conciliatory note, blaming no one in particular for paying her less:
“I’ve been in films where I’ve found out my male co-star got paid double what I got paid, and it’s just a reality of the time that we live in,” she told the Guardian. “To me, it’s frustrating, but at the same time, I’m just grateful to be getting paid at all for what I do.”
In an interview with HuffPost live today, Chastain chimed in, calling the wage gap “a huge problem...in front of the camera and behind the camera, across the board.”
She added, too, ahem, that reports about what she’d made filming The Martian were inaccurate: “I’ve actually never said this, I think, so here we go! There’s also misinformation out there. Like someone wrote an article once that said that I made a certain amount of money for ‘The Martian.’ I made less than a quarter of that in reality.”
Chastain appears to be referring to a story in Star that claimed she’d made $7 million for the picture, while Matt Damon earned $25 million. But she, too, is a little politely vague on who’s to blame.
Which is why it’s worth recalling what studio executives themselves have to say when asked about the wage gap. Like the now-deposed Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal, who, despite calling herself a champion for women in Hollywood, was open about paying them real bullshit, relatively speaking.
“I run a business,” she said in a February interview. “People want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and go, ‘Can I give you some more?’ Because that’s not what you do when you run a business.”
Millions versus multi-millions isn’t exactly the most important battle we’re fighting on the wage gap front, not when thousands of fast food workers are still struggling to get behemoth companies to deign to give them $15 an hour. But it’s worth paying real attention to the fact that one of the most profitable industries in the world keeps churning along an essentially sexist pay structure, one so powerful that even the girl with the freaking dragon tattoo can barely bring herself to say an unkind word.
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Chastain at the Crimson Peak premier, October 15, 2015. Photo via AP Images