“It’s a sin what happens to these supporting actors through the years where they can barely exist on the pay they get” – Susan Sarandon
The debate over equal pay rages long and hard across the globe right now. Is it right that statistically, female workers earn less that their male counterparts? Well. no, but in Hollywood, the issue is not quite so clear cut. For example, while women might earn less than their male co-stars, they also might be on screen for less time, or might not be required to do as much physical work as the male co-star. Of course, that also opens up another can of worms. A debate for another day, perhaps.
Another aspect to the equal pay debate is concerning age. Older women are less likely to find work, and less likely to earn as much as younger women, whereas older men can still be cast as romantic or action movie leads, and of course, they also earn more money for it, too. That’s not to say there isn’t work out there for women of a certain age, of course, it’s just that they have to be willing to play certain roles, some of which are great, some not so great.
Susan Sarandon is an actress who is never out of work. Esteemed and highly respected, she has played a variety of memorable roles and still remains in demand. Right now, she is starring in Feud, a new show on FX from Ryan Murphy, that focuses on the legendary feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. With Sarandon playing Davis, and Jessica Lange as Crawford, Feud is darkly funny, bitter, and hugely entertaining. It also serves as a stark reminder about the role of women in Hollywood, and also how men like to pit women against one another.
While making Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Davis and Crawford battled over unequal pay, gossip leaked to tabloids, and the feud even spilled over into physical violence. Sarandon says that she can understand it, but that the generational differences mean that now women come together more, rather than feeling threatened by each other.
“I think that happened just in my generation,” Sarandon says. “I see examples of actresses just a little bit ahead of me who really saw women as their enemy and had no intention of forming any kind of alliance. Now, that’s certainly not true. You might be envious of a part you didn’t get but it’s switched to understanding that you need women as allies and that we’re stronger together, not divided.”
And as for the pay gap? Surprisingly, Sarandon doesn’t necessarily think it’s all that big of a deal:
“I don’t think it matters that Jennifer Lawrence is paid 70 times more than what I am,” she says. “It’s a business that is so subjective and I feel so lucky to be able to earn a living, and this is why to go after pay equality is a really chancy subject – because if Tom Cruise has a leading lady that’s in the movie as much as he is, should she get the same amount of money if she’s been in the business a shorter amount of time? And should a character actor that’s been in the business for 50 years not get paid more? It’s a sin what happens to these supporting actors through the years where they can barely exist on the pay they get. There’s no equity in terms of value, and who knows how these decisions are made. So you can’t apply that to feeling unfair because the whole fact that actors get paid as much as we do is ridiculous. I mean, what a fabulous life. I can’t bitch about whatever my pay level is. I don’t focus on that.”
Via The Guardian