Benedict Cumberbatch Says Male Actors Should Reject Roles That Don’t Give Women Equal Pay
Benedict Cumberbatch spoke about the wage gap in a recent Radio Times interview, where he said that male actors should refuse to take on a role unless their female co-stars are receiving fair pay. The Avengers actor emphasizes that it should be a very intentional act, saying, “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.'”
This calls to mind the recent news around gender representation, equal workspaces, and wage equality happening in Hollywood currently. For instance, the criticism against The Crown after it had come out that Claire Foy had been paid less than her co-worker Matt Smith. The issue was eventually resolved when Foy received a significant amount of backpay to remedy the situation. The controversy was dismissed by many who felt the gap wasn’t a feminist problem, with many pointing out that the Doctor Who star was a bigger name. However, the issue was not with Smith receiving less than what he deserved, but the main star being underpaid.
Cumberbatch’s solution, as a man with a high profile in the industry, is an incredibly effective one that utilizes the power he has as a big name and celebrity. It’s the same approach that Jessica Chastian took when she negotiated a “favored nations” deal with Octavia Spencer so they made the same pay. If a movie star can leverage their position for others, then they absolutely should.
Cumberbatch also spoke about his new production company SunnyMarch, which will promote and bring more female-focused dramas into the media. “I’m proud that [partner] Adam [Ackland] and I are the only men in our production company,” said the actor, “our next project is a female story with a female lens about motherhood, in a time of environmental disaster. If it’s centred around my name, to get investors, then we can use that attention for a raft of female projects. Half the audience is female!”
“Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism,” says the actor.
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