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.
The actresses fighting against sexism in Hollywood
The actresses fighting against sexism in Hollywood
1/12 Anne Hathaway
The 32-year-old actress said she has already experiences job rejections because of her age. “Now I'm in my early thirties and I'm like, 'Why did that 24-year-old get that part? I was that 24-year-old once. I can't be upset about it, it's the way things are,” she told Glamour.
2/12 Helen Mirren
On news that Maggie Gyllenhaal had been turned down for being ‘too old’, aged 37, to play a 55-year-old man’s partner: “It’s f***ing outrageous. It’s ridiculous. Honestly, it’s so annoying. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”
3/12 Maggie Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal revealed she was told by a Hollywood producer that she was too old, aged 37, to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. “It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh,” she said at the time.
4/12 Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep has helped fund an all-female screenwriters group called The Writer’s Lab to encourage more women to pen Hollywood scripts. She previously told Vogue in 2011: “Once women pass childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque on some level.”
5/12 Emma Thompson
The actress said she thought Hollywood is “still completely s***” when it comes to treating women equally to men. ““When I was younger, I really did think we were on our way to a better world. And when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women, and I find that very disturbing and sad.”
6/12 Elizabeth Banks
Banks said she was driven from acting to directing due to the lack of roles for older women in Hollywood. “"[Industry sexism] drove me to direct for sure. I definitely was feeling that I was unfulfilled and a little bit bored by the things that were coming across my desk. I mean look at Gwyneth Paltrow who has her Oscar [for Shakespeare in Love] and played fifth banana to Iron Man,” she told Deadline.
7/12 Viola Davis
“I had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualised role in TV or film. I'm a sexual woman, but nothing in my career has ever identified me as a sexualised woman. I was the prototype of the ‘mommified’ role,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
8/12 Liv Tyler
The Lord of the Rings actress said she only get cast in roles where she is treated as a “second class citizen” at the age of 38. “When you’re in your teens or twenties, there is an abundance of ingenue parts which are exciting to play. But at [my age], you’re usually the wife or the girlfriend - a sort of second-class citizen. There are more interesting roles for women when they get a bit older,” she told More magazine.
9/12 Cate Blanchett
The actress famously called out sexism on the red carpet at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards. When a camera operator scanned her up and down, she said: “Do you do this to the guys?” In her Oscar acceptance speech for Blue Jasmine, she reminded the film industry that movies with leading women can still be successful. “And thank you to... those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the centre, are niche experiences. They are not -- audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”
10/12 Ellen Page
Asked if she had ever encountered sexism in Hollywood, Page told The Guardian: ‘Oh my God, yeah! It's constant! It's how you're treated, it's how you're looked at, how you're expected to look in a photoshoot, it's how you're expected to shut up and not have an opinion, it's how you... If you're a girl and you don't fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man's perspective, then you're a little bit at a loss.”
11/12 Zoe Saldana
The actress says she refuses roles where she has to play the generic girlfriend, wife or sexy bombshell. "It's very hard being a woman in a man's world, and I recognised it was a man's world even when I was a kid. It's an inequality and injustice that drove me crazy, and which I always spoke out against — and I've always been outspoken,” she told Manhattan magazine.
12/12 Charlize Theron
The actress spoke to ELLE about negotiating equal pay for the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel: "This is a good time for us to bring this to a place of fairness, and girls need to know that being a feminist is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you hate men. It means equal rights. If you're doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way."
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
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.Reuse content