When Patricia Arquette won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Richard Linklater’s 2014 film “Boyhood,” she spent her time on stage advocating to end the gender pay gap in industries all over the world. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” the actress said. “It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Arquette’s speech drew cheers from the audience, from Meryl Streep to Jennifer Lawrence, but in the years since it hasn’t solved her own battle against the gender pay gap in Hollywood. Arquette recently spoke to The Daily Beast to promote her role in the Showtime limited series “Escape at Dannemora” and revealed she is still being offered jobs where her salary does not equal her male co-stars.
“I’ve walked away from several jobs because they were giving me really bullshit deals that were really shitty and different from men in a really fucked up way,” Arquette said.
Arquette recalled being offered “false equity” for a recent project that she did not name. The actress was given an offer to receive a certain percentage of back-end profit, but then she realized her male co-star would have received a larger overall salary and thus the payout structure for both of them would not be equal. When Arquette asked to receive the same number of back-end profits, her offer was rejected. Both Arquette and her male co-star were Oscar winners.
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“I was like, oh, the structure you set up for me, I would never get paid for this,” Arquette said. “It’s such a bullshit structure, you’d never see a penny of it. It’s fake.”
Arquette may still be fighting gender pay gap battles in Hollywood, but she at least takes comfort in knowing that her advocacy on the issue has affected women all over the country. The day Arquette arrived for her interview with The Daily Beast she was stopped by a woman who credited the actress for giving her the strength she needed to ask for pay parity at her job.
“I’m looking at her, she’s probably my age or a little older, and I’m thinking, this woman is probably going to retire with more money,” Arquette said. “This will impact the rest of her life. I’ve had so many women come and tell me that. They’re like, I can feed my kids! I can help my son go to college! Really big, major things.”
Arquette returns to television this month following roles on broadcast shows “Medium” and “CSI: Cyber.” The actress stars in the Ben Stiller-directed “Escape at Dannemora” and plays Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, a prison worker who fell in love with two convicts and helped assist their escape. The show, co-starring Benicio del Toro and Paul Dano, premieres November 18 on Showtime.