Jessica Chastain reveals she turned down 'huge role' due to Hollywood wage gap

'Women need to step forward and demand they’re fairly compensated for their work'

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The Independent Culture

Jessica Chastain has spoken candidly about her efforts in negotiating her contracts to ensure her wages are on a par with her male co-stars.

In an interview with Variety for its Power of Women issue, the two-time Oscar-nominated star of The Help and Zero Dark Thirty revealed how she will turn down roles if she is offered a fraction of what her male counterpart would earn.

“I'm not allowing that in my life,” she stated.

She elaborated: I remember watching Amy Pascal - it was after the Sony hack, and she was giving a talk somewhere. She said part of the reason women don’t get paid equal to men is they don’t ask for more; actresses need to stop being so grateful. That really hit me. At first, I was really pissed off. And then I thought, 'She’s touching on something here.' Women need to step forward and demand they’re fairly compensated for their work.

Chastain stated that "fairness of pay" is now always at the forefront of her mind.

“What I do now, when I’m taking on a film, I always ask about the fairness of the pay. I ask what they’re offering me in comparison to the guy. I don’t care about how much I get paid; I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do. But I don’t want to be on a set where I’m doing the same work as someone else and they’re getting five times what I’m getting.”

The Miss Sloane star confirmed that she recently turned down a “huge” role because of the wage gap.

“There was something huge that I recently turned down. For me, it wasn’t about the money; it was an old-fashioned problem of the wage gap. I turned it down, and they didn’t come back. I remember afterwards I was like, 'What did I do? Maybe it was a mistake.' But it wasn’t, because everyone in the studio system heard what I did. So what you’re doing is creating a reputation: Don’t bring Jessica something where she’s not being fairly compensated compared to the male actor.

“Even though I lost that film, I’ve created a boundary. I drew a line in the sand.”

Last year, Chastain launched a 'female empowerment' production company alongside Juliette Binoche, Queen Latifah and others.

Miss Sloane is released in cinemas on 12 May.

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