In the Richard Curtis film Notting Hill, the bumbling stockbroker Bernie, played by Hugh Bonneville, meets Anna Scott, unaware that Julia Roberts’s character is the world’s most famous female actor.
Upon learning her profession, he patronisingly commiserates with Anna about the low wages paid to actors, declaring them “a scandal”, and asks how much she received for her last movie. Without missing a beat, Anna replies “$15m”, the actual amount Roberts was paid to do the movie, a rare example of when an actress has earned more than her male counterpart – in this case, Hugh Grant. For a real scandal in acting has always been the huge gender pay gap.
Now a team of economists has determined the width of that gap: male Hollywood stars earn $1.1m more per film than their similarly experienced female co-stars.
Sofia Izquierdo Sanchez, of Huddersfield University, John S Heywood, of Wisconsin University, and Maria Navarro Paniagua, of Lancaster University, analysed the wages of 246 male and female actors who featured in 1,343 films between 1980 and 2015. “The gap has been quite persistent,” Izquierdo Sanchez said. “It is almost the same in 2015 as it was in 1980. It doesn’t show any signs of improving.” Read more