Bradley Cooper Sets Example By Working With Female Costars To Fight Hollywood Wage Gap

CREDIT: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is taking action to try to equalize pay between male actors like him and the female actresses he works with.

He told Reuters that he’s started teaming up with his female costars to negotiate pay before any films go to production. “I don’t know where it’s changing otherwise but that’s something that I could do,” he said. “Usually you don’t talk about the financial stuff, you have people. But you know what? It’s time to start doing that.”

His decision follows the revelation that his American Hustle costars Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid significantly less than he and the other male stars, despite multiple Oscars nominations and a win between them. On Tuesday, Lawrence described the experience of finding out “the lucky people with dicks” she worked with were being paid so much more. “I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up too early,” she wrote. But she also noted that she felt pressured not to fight too hard for more pay because women are penalized for acting aggressively.

That’s where men like Cooper might have a role to play, by lending their voices to the demand for equal wages. He told Reuters that he was shocked when he heard that Adams had been paid so little for American Hustle. “She worked everyday on that movie and got paid nothing. It’s really horrible actually, it’s almost embarrassing,” he said.

Other men have also used their positions to reduce the gender wage gap. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, has started analyzing the pay disparity among his workforce to eliminate any unfair gap. Gianmarco Monsellato, CEO of French law firm TAJ, similarly tracked compensation and promotions to make sure men and women were being compensated equally.

Many women may not even know they’re being unfairly paid less than their male peers, as Lawrence and Adams didn’t until a hack on Sony Pictures revealed everyone’s compensation. Where there is more pay transparency, though, the wage gap is usually much smaller.

But women face consequences when they ask for more pay. They also face scenarios where managers are more likely to start negotiations with much higher offers for men than for women. These factors play into the fact that women don’t just make less than men in Hollywood, but in virtually every job in the economy.