Charlize Theron is set to reprise her role as Queen Ravenna in a prequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman” and was paid handsomely to do so. What’s more notable than the size of her paycheck, though, is what it took to reach that number. Theron asked for a whopping $10 million raise to star in “The Huntsman.” Her reason? That’s the increase that would match her pay to her male co-star Chris Hemsworth’s.
Theron used leaked Sony emails revealing a pay disparity between the male and female stars of “American Hustle” to negotiate the raise. In an interview with Elle UK, the “Mad Max: Fury Road” star explained, “When I thought about the temperature out there — with finding out what Jennifer [Lawrence] and Amy [Adams] were being paid on a set with guy actors who are their counterparts… they’re just as good as any of the guys on there. Yeah, that pissed me off!” She continued, “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.”
It’s admirable that Theron chose to make this issue public despite potential backlash from the studio, because, like she says, the issue extends beyond her as an individual woman in this specific movie. It’s about fairness, and fairness means equal rights and compensation for all. Her message has already inspired other actresses. In a recent essay for Glamour, Judy Greer wrote that she idolized Theron for negotiating the raise.
As for how the studio reacted to her request, Theron noted, “I have to give them credit, because once I asked, they said yes, They did not fight it. And maybe that’s the message: that we just need to put our foot down.”
While we are all for women championing the value of their work, we are doubtful that most attempts made by actresses to raise their salaries would go so smoothly. It’s important to remember the pressure not to ruffle feathers in Hollywood — women are already given fewer roles than men, and generally speaking, less interesting ones, so the risk of potentially alienating a studio can bring serious consequences. In other words, not all actresses carry as much pull as Theron does, and they can’t afford to jeopardize their chances of work, so we can sympathize with their unwillingness to speak up.
In any case, we’re certainly glad that Theron is promoting this conversation by sharing her own experience, and in doing so, spreading a message of leaning in and demanding equal pay.
“The Huntsman” opens April 22, 2016.
[via The Guardian]