Gillian Anderson, made famous for her portrayal of Dana Scully in the 1993 hit show “The X-Files,” has revealed she’s long been a victim of the gender pay gap in film and TV.
Anderson will star alongside X-Files co-star David Duchovny in a reboot that premiers on Sunday evening. But at first the studio tried to pay her just half of what it offered Duchovny. “As usual, they come to me with half of what they want to offer David,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
The pay disparity may have been business as usual because Anderson had to work against it when she was first brought on to the show. At 25 years old when she came in for auditions, she didn’t have many screen credits, while 33-year-old Duchovny had become known for hosting Showtime’s “Red Shoe Diaries.” But the two were still clearly co-stars from the beginning, even if the studio tried to undermine it. Anderson told the Daily Beast that she was initially required to stand a few feet behind him on camera and never to walk side-by-side.
But Anderson, who says she has “a very short tolerance for that shit,” fought both those rules and the pay gap between what she made for the show and what was given to Duchovny. It took her three years to close the wage gap.
Now she’s had to fight for equal pay all over again, telling the Daily Beast the initial offer of half of Duchovny’s pay is “the truth.” That’s despite the fact that in the intervening years she’s starred in shows like “The Fall” and even netted a best actress award for her starring role in “A Streetcar Named Desire. “It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly,” she told the Daily Beast of her lowball offer. “I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it.” Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that she eventually managed to get equal pay for the upcoming six-episode series.
“Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it’s important that it gets heard and voiced,” she said. “It is… sad. It is sad.”
As sad as it may be, it’s still common throughout the industry. Many pay disparities were revealed in the Sony hack that made executive emails public, such as the fact that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams made significantly less for starring alongside Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremey Renner in “American Hustle,” or that Charlize Theron was paid $10 million less than Chris Hemsworth for “The Huntsman.” Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda, co-starts of the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie,” revealed last year that the supporting actors, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, were given the exact same pay as them. Amanda Seyfried says she was paid just 10 percent of what her male co-star made for a big-budget film. British actress Sienna Miller said she was offered less than half of what was offered to a male co-star for a Broadway play and decided to turn down the role.
Overall, the highest-paid actors make far more than the top-paid actresses. Robert Downey, Jr., the best-paid actor of them all, makes more than the combined pay of the two actresses at the top, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence. Actresses get fewer chances to play the leading roles that make the big bucks, but they also bring in more money for studios when they do.
And while Hollywood and TV stars may be able to weather unfair pay given how much they make, these gaps are indicative of the fact that women make less than men in every industry and in virtually every job.