Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank Was Offered 20 Times Less Than Her Male Co-Star

Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images
Hilary Swank is the latest A-list actress speaking out about gender inequality in Hollywood, and her firsthand experience with wage gap is truly one for the books.
In a clip for the upcoming episode of Chelsea Handler's Netflix series Chelsea, Swank joins Handler, director Ava DuVernay, actress Connie Britton, and Miss USA Deshauna Barber to swap industry tales. Among those stories? The fact that Swank was offered 20 times less than her male co-star on a film — despite already having earned two Oscars.

"I win my second Academy Award [for Million Dollar Baby]. The next couple movies later, I get offered a movie. The male hadn't had any kind of critical success, but had been in a movie where he was 'hot,' and he got offered $10 million and I got offered $500,000." Swank revealed that she turned down the film, and the producers went with an actress who earned only $50,000 for the role.
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It's crazy to think that an actress at the top of her game like Swank would ever be offered so much less than her relatively inexperienced male co-star. But more and more examples indicate that this is the norm. Actresses like Sienna Miller, Rooney Mara, and Amanda Seyfried have all admitted to being paid significantly less than their male peers — often because producers think they can get away with doing so.

Jennifer Lawrence penned an essay for Lenny Letter about making far less than the male stars of American Hustle, revealing that she didn't want to negotiate for a raise because she didn't want to seem "spoiled" or "difficult," two labels often assigned to women who speak up for what they want. Since then, Lawrence has changed her tune — she held out for a salary twice that of her co-star Chris Pratt for the space romance Passengers.

As maddening as these stories are to hear, it's going to take big names like Lawrence and Swank speaking out to effect any change to the Hollywood system.

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