Actress Susan Sarandon claimed in an interview with BBC Radio on Thursday that during the making of Robert Benton’s 1998 film Twilight, co-star Paul Newman gave her part of his salary to ensure that she was paid as much as himself and Gene Hackman, the third key cast member.
Sarandon’s revelations on International Women’s Day join the ongoing debate about the pay gap in Hollywood between men and women and a movement to end institutionalised sexism in the industry.
“Emma Stone once came forward and said she got equal pay because her male stars insisted upon it and gave up something of theirs,” Sarandon said. “That happened to me with Paul Newman at one point, when I did a film with him ages ago. [Producers] said it was ‘favoured nations,’ but they only meant the two guys.”
She added, “He stepped forward and said, ‘Well I’ll give you part of mine’. So, yeah, he was a gem.”
The term “favoured nation” borrows from international trade terminology and is an agreement to pay equally to all co-stars.
In 2017, the 10 highest-paid actors earned a total of $488.5 million, almost three times the salaries of Hollywood’s top 10 highest-paid actresses that year, $172.5 million. While Mark Wahlberg, the highest-paid male actor, took home $68 million last year, his female counterpart Emma Stone banked $26 million. Stone’s salary comes in at number 15 on a list of the top earning stars from both genders in 2017.
The pay discrimination is not just between genders. At the Sundance Film Festival in January, Octavia Spencer had revealed that while she and Jessica Chastain were approaching studios a with project they planned to co-star in, Chastain ensured the two would be paid equally after she learnt that women of colour are usually paid less than white women.