Patrick Melrose actor Benedict Cumberbatch is demanding equal pay for his female co-stars, claiming roles should be turned down if this condition is not met. 2017 proved to be a difficult year for the movie industry as the Harvey Weinstein scandal triggered an avalanche of women to come forward with tales of abuse and inappropriate behavior in the business. This led to the #MeToo and #Time'sUp movements taking center stage at various award ceremonies, as actors of both genders took a stand against the treatment of women in the world of TV and film.
These movements soon grew to encompass the ongoing debate over female actors not being paid as much as their male counterparts, as women also came forward with their experiences of being drastically underpaid. Several high profile productions were 'outed' as having paid their male stars considerably more than their female ones. For example it was revealed that Netflix's The Crown paid leading star Claire Foy less than supporting figure, Matt Smith, and Mark Wahlberg was criticized after reportedly receiving a $1.5 million payment for re-shooting scenes on All The Money In The World while Michelle Williams got only $1,000. Wahlberg would later donate the money to Time's Up.
As a result of these revelations, several actors have pledged to do more to ensure gender equality in the movie industry and Benedict Cumberbatch is certainly doing his part after suggesting he would turn down roles that paid male actors more than their female co-stars. Speaking with Radio Times, Cumberbatch said:
“Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism. Look at your quotas. Ask what women are being paid, and say: ‘If she’s not paid the same as the men, I’m not doing it.’”
Benedict Cumberbatch has been a prominent voice in wanting to do more for women in the movie business and so it doesn't come as too big of a surprise that he would demand equal pay in his movies. Having starred in everything from Sherlock and Patrick Melrose to Avengers: Infinity War and Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch is now a big enough name to ensure that such conditions are met and his career certainly wouldn't be negatively impacted if he lost out on a role as a result of demanding equal pay.
Of course, there are complicating factors when it comes to paying actors the same amount. The Crown's producers defended Matt Smith's heftier salary by arguing that it was due to his Doctor Who fame and it certainly isn't unusual for bigger-name actors to command higher salaries, even in supporting roles. However, while this reasoning might excuse a small number of salary discrepancies, it doesn't account for the larger issue of pay inequality between male and female actors. Statistics have shown that Hollywood's highest-paid male actors earn almost three times as much as the highest-paid females. This proves that the issue of unequal pay isn't simply due to male stars being more famous, but is a symptom of a far larger problem.
Patrick Melrose continues with "Never Mind" May 19th on Sky Atlantic.
Source: Radio Times