In the last few years Hollywood has been repeatedly scrutinised for paying female leads less than their male co-stars, but finally things might be changing.
In 2014 the limelight shifted to the film industry itself when the Sony Pictures hack revealed a large pay disparity between Jennifer Lawrence and her male co-stars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper for the film American Hustle.
This led to numerous men and women in the film industry to call for better pay for female stars. At the Oscars in 2015, Patricia Arquette used her winner’s speech as a rallying cry saying: “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Then, later that year, Sienna Miller rejected a role after being offered 50% less pay than the male lead in a Broadway play. She said in an interview with Vogue: “It was a play with just two of us on stage and I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid. If it was two men, it wouldn't probably happen. Sad, but I walked away.”
And the issue has continued to be at the fore, with little sign of a resolution. At the beginning of 2016, Ricky Gervais used the gender pay gap in Hollywood as material for his opening monologue at the Golden Globes. A few months later Robin Wright revealed her fight for equal pay with Kevin Spacey for the Netflix show House of Cards – a battle that she won.
She said at the time: “I was looking at statistics and [my] character was more popular than [Kevin Spacey’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public’. And they did.”
But finally, it seems that filmmakers are being proactive with their remuneration of Hollywood stars.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Felicity Jones was - by far - the highest-paid cast member in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
After being nominated for a string of awards for her role in The Theory of Everything – including; an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA – Jones was able to negotiate a seven-figure salary upfront.
One source told The Hollywood Reporter: “She knows her worth.”
This sum, for her character Jyn Erso, dwarfed that of her male peers. The site reports that Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn didn’t even manage to obtain mid-six figures for their roles.