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Richard Linklater Breaks Silence on ‘Before’ Trilogy Pay Gap After Julie Delpy Revelation

Julie Delpy revealed this week she did not receive equal pay on the "Before" trilogy until the third installment, "Before Midnight."

Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater

Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Richard Linklater has issued a statement reacting to Julie Delpy’s revelation that she did not receive equal pay on the “Before” trilogy movies until the third installment, 2013’s “Before Midnight.” Delpy dropped the news during a video interview with Variety from the Zurich Film Festival. The actress, who also co-wrote “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” (both earned Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay), said she made “maybe a tenth” of what Ethan Hawke earned on “Before Sunrise” and then just half of what Hawke was paid on “Sunset.” Delpy added, “The third movie I said if I’m not paid the same I’m not doing it.”

In his response, Linklater begins by stating, “Gender pay inequality is a huge issue in our society and every employer and lawmaker should be doing everything they possibly can to correct flagrant examples of discrimination that should have been resolved a generation or two ago.”

Linklater notes that “nobody was getting paid much at all” on the “Before” movies because they were so low budget. The director says “Sunrise” and “Sunset” were made for $2.7 million each, with Ethan Hawke taking pay cuts himself to be involved in the projects.

“Salaries are negotiated by agents behind the scenes on behalf of their clients, and Ethan Hawke did get paid a little more than Julie Delpy on the first two of these films,” Linklater writes. “No one involved in the productions considered this an injustice in 1994 because Julie was just getting established in the U.S. while Ethan was one of the biggest stars in his age range, getting offered seemingly every project in the industry.  It’s likely the trilogy would not exist if Ethan didn’t choose to come to Vienna that summer and work for a fraction of what he could have been making on another project.”

Read Linklater’s statement in its entirety below.

Make no mistake, gender pay inequality is a huge issue in our society and every employer and lawmaker should be doing everything they possibly can to correct flagrant examples of discrimination that should have been resolved a generation or two ago.  I’d be surprised if the Before Trilogy will end up qualifying as an example of this in our particular industry though.  First off, these films we’ve been so lucky to even get made fall squarely in the indie/low-budget/labor-of-love category.  The first two were budgeted at  2.7 million—nobody was getting paid much at all!  Salaries are negotiated by agents behind the scenes on behalf of their clients, and Ethan Hawke did get paid a little more than Julie Delpy on the first two of these films. No one involved in the productions considered this an injustice in 1994 because Julie was just getting established in the U.S. while Ethan was one of the biggest stars in his age range, getting offered seemingly every project in the industry.  It’s likely the trilogy would not exist if Ethan didn’t choose to come to Vienna that summer and work for a fraction of what he could have been making on another project.  That’s Ethan—an artist, not a businessman, a guy who’s turned down millions many times over because he was following his artistic impulses rather than careerist or material ones. He’s made a career of this, time and time again coming aboard indie films for little to no money—it’s really admirable and a great example for performing artists who are serious about their art.  There were similar dynamics on the first two films as far as pay goes, but, because our artistic partnership had developed to such a degree, by the time we were making a third, a full 18 years after the first, it was obvious that everyone should be paid the same (again, we’re not talking much money), regardless of industry status.  I don’t remember it even being an issue—it was just something we three agreed upon, with no conflict or theatrics. I don’t doubt that Julie was determined to receive equal pay for Before Midnight, I just want to be clear that she did not have to negotiate or demand it and that she was never offered anything less.

How the industry compensates artists is always vulgar and not based on actual WORTH—we all know that. Life isn’t fair, and neither is Hollywood, but it seems that while the most glaring examples of gender pay inequality exist in the more commercial undertakings, it’s up to everyone to do everything they can to demand transparency and this long-overdue equality at whatever level they find themselves.

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