The actress, screenwriter and director talked #MeToo and Time’s Up in an interview with Variety at the Zurich Film Festival — and brought up her experience with the Hollywood gender pay gap.
“Everyone’s talking about equality: ‘We want to help women,’” said Delpy, whose film My Zoe is in the festival. “As a woman, you know you’re paid less than a man as a writer, as a director, as an actress.”
Bringing up her breakthrough role in the first of the three Richard Linklater films,1995’s Before Sunrise, she said, “I think I was paid maybe a tenth of what Ethan was paid. The second movie,” 2004’s Before Sunset (for which she also had a screenplay credit along with Linklater and Hawke), “I think I was paid half.”
Julie Delpy reveals that in #BeforeSunrise she was paid "maybe a tenth" of what Ethan Hawke was paid, in #BeforeSunset she was paid "half" and that for #BeforeMidnight, she demanded equal pay https://t.co/9jJoNgvRqE | Variety Lounge at #ZFF2019 presented by @creditsuisse pic.twitter.com/R0MlQP0KRU— Variety (@Variety) October 3, 2019
So when she negotiated for the third film, 2013’s Before Midnight, which the trio wrote the screenplay for again, “I said, ‘Listen, guys, if I’m not paid the same, I’m not doing it.’” (If she didn’t do, there was no film. Celine, Jesse and their banter was each movie.)
The screenplays Delpy, Hawke and Linklater wrote for Before Sunset and Before Midnight received Academy Award nominations.
Delpy said she’s been speaking up for herself — and on behalf of women — for most of her career. While it’s being applauded more now — like Michelle Williams’s speech at the Emmys —she said speaking out earned her a reputation for being difficult.
“I spent my life being criticized for criticizing the fact there was not enough women” in the film industry, she said. “I was very outspoken all my life and it gave me the reputation of being a pain in the ass.”
But it didn’t stop her. “I was raised by two feminists: my mother and my dad,” she said. “I think of equality as something that should be a complete normal thing.
At the Emmys last month, Williams, a winner for Fosse/Verdon, spoke about the importance of equal pay — and her speech quickly went viral. In 2018, it was revealed that Williams was paid $1,000 to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million for reshoots of their 2017 film All the Money in the World. Many other actresses — including Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Ellen Pompeo — have spoken out about the wage gap.
The pay disparity hasn’t just impacted on-camera talent either. Last month, screenwriter Adele Lim, who co-wrote the Crazy Rich Asians screenplay, said she would not return to work for the sequel over an allegedly large pay disparity between her and fellow writer Peter Chiarelli.
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