After it emerged that Michelle Williams got paid $1000 compared to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million for the reshoots necessary for Ridley Scott’s movie All The Money In The World, many zero-ed in on what appeared to be a pretty flagrant and shabby example of Hollywood sexism.
Jessica Chastain tweeted furiously about the situation, and it has been roundly denounced on social media.
Please go see Michelle's performance in All The Money in The World. She's a brilliant Oscar nominated Golden Globe winning actress. She has been in the industry for 20 yrs. She deserves more than 1% of her male costar' s salary. https://t.co/HIniew6lf7
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) January 10, 2018
Judd Apatow weighed in too:
This is so messed up that it is almost hard to believe. Almost. This is how this business works. I wonder if the studio or Wahlberg will do something to make the situation less insane. https://t.co/RsunBlOeCk
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) January 10, 2018
The Screen Actors Guild – SAG-AFTRA – has also broached the subject, telling Deadline that it is ‘looking into it’.
“We are unambiguously in favor of pay equity between men and women in this industry and support every action to move in this direction,” a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said yesterday.
“At the same time, performers at this level negotiate their above-scale rates through their agents. As it relates to this matter, you should talk to their representatives.”
But is all quite as it seems?
It may be that it’s not quite cut and dried, with issues over contracts now emerging to explain why Williams only received her $80 per diem in payment for the reshoots.
Ridley Scott made the decision to cut Kevin Spacey from his movie about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III just weeks before its scheduled release, following the multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault that had been levelled at the House of Cards star.
He quickly found a replacement in Christopher Plummer, who had, in fact, at one time been in line for Spacey’s role of oil magnate J. Paul Getty.
But it would need rapidly organised reshoots to meet the slated release date, meaning that its other stars, including Williams and Wahlberg, would be needed back on set.
However, the crucial aspect of payment for the reshoots, which cost a reported $10 million in all, appear to be written into the actors’ contracts, which go some way to explaining the pay disparity.
According to The Wrap, the potential for reshoots was already factored into Williams’ contract, but crucially, not in Wahlberg’s.
This meant that Wahlberg was entirely within his rights to re-negotiate his contract, and as it happens, his agent Ari Emanuel is known for striking hard bargains.
In fact, Emanuel is the agent Jeremy Piven’s ruthless Ari Gold from the Wahlberg-produced TV series Entourage is based on, so that gives you some idea of his reputation.
The reshoots also required considerably more of Wahlberg’s time, compared to fewer scenes between Plummer and Williams.
Plus Wahlberg had reportedly lowered his usual fee considerably in the first place prior to signing up, because he wanted the role.
Scott has previously said that the actors had come back to the set for free, but notably doesn’t mention Wahlberg.
“No, I wouldn’t get paid, I refused to get paid,” Scott said. “No, they all came in free. Christopher had to get paid. But Michelle, no. Me, no.”
Williams reiterated: “I said I’d be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me. And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”
It even meant that Williams had to jet to London during Thanksgiving, spending the holiday without her 12-year-old daughter.
And while it’s utterly justified to demand equal pay based on gender in Hollywood, other factors – in this case contractual – can have a bearing too.