Emma Stone Says Her Male Co-Stars Took Salary Cuts so She Could Receive Equal Pay

Emma Stone equal pay
Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

As the pay gap between male and female actors continues to pose challenges for the industry, Emma Stone has revealed that her male co-stars have taken salary cuts in the past so that she could achieve equal pay.

In a discussion with tennis pro Billie Jean King, who Stone portrays in her upcoming film “Battle of the Sexes,” and co-star Andrea Riseborough for Out magazine, the topic of gender pay parity arose.


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“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair,” Stone said. “That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily — that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.'”

Stone continued that if her male co-star who has a higher quote — or standard rate based on previous performances — takes a cut so she can match him, her quote can be increased in the future.

King brought up the responsibility men have to further women’s causes as well. “You just gave an example of why men are so vital to these changes — because they’re usually in the power position, and if they start to change the paradigms, things start to shift,” she said.

The trio also discussed the difficulty women face when asking for higher pay. Riseborough said she’s been “number one” in films before and still received lower pay than her male co-stars. When asked by King if she tried for a raise, Riseborough responded that she did, but “there’s this underlying feeling that you’re supposed to be grateful.”

“Oh, yeah, we’re supposed to be happy with the crumbs,” King said. “I talk about that in my speeches — that women deserve the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top as well, just like the men. So let’s go for it.”

“Battle of the Sexes” — set against the famous 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match between King and Bobby Riggs after Riggs said he could beat any woman he played — chronicles King’s internal struggle with her sexuality. Riseborough plays Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser with whom she had a relationship.

Other female stars have spoken out about the pay gap, including Natalie Portman, who claimed she was paid three times less than her male co-star Ashton Kutcher in 2011’s “No Strings Attached.” Jennifer Lawrence penned an open letter for Lena Dunham’s Lenny letter on the subject after it was revealed both she and co-star Amy Adams were paid less than their male co-stars in “American Hustle.”

“Battle of the Sexes” hits theaters on Sept. 22.

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  1. Johnny Edinburgh says:

    Iss a business and you get paid what you are worth, this is a pointless gesture.

  2. Andrew says:

    emma became generous

  3. Jules says:

    Yeah I wouldn’t take pay cut
    Why is Emma hurting for money
    Can’t she fight for herself
    If you want more Money
    Talk to studios
    Cause no pay cut for me :)

  4. Coming from the girl who played an asian in a movie. If she had any care for “community” she would have made sure an actual asian played that part, instead of white washing it. But I’m guessing the money was right, so she put her altruistic beliefs in the backseat and drove to the bank.

    Men should do more? Now it’s up to men again. Pfffff. No, that’s what your precious feminism is for. To stand up and bray at the sky that the world is so unfair to them. When a millionaire complains that she should be making more money, she should be shamed in public, not applauded.

    BJK was an ugly, butch tennis great. Now, she’ll be a pretty movie star. Why wasn’t a lesbian hired to play that part? Or a tennis player. It was up to BJK and she chose a straight, pretty woman to play her. So now we’re straight washing movies. Hilarious. Hire a better agent to negotiate for you.

  5. BeanerECMO says:

    If she and her agent cannot negotiate equitable salaries/wages/pay, then it’s on them. The other actors are just being PC and weak-kneed (kinda redundant).

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      You negate your own statement in its first sentence. The “other actors” are freeing the money up in the budget. She &/or her agent are negotiating to get some (if not all) of that money to be added to her contracts. However, they cannot order it be done. It is a negotiation with the studio & other financiers, so if it fails to be done, it cannot be considered entirely the fault of her side.

  6. Bill B. says:

    It’s very nice of them, but not sure it serves a point as I don’t see how it is encouraging the people who actually hired & paid her to pay her equally. This just seems to give them a way out of doing what is right.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      It does no such thing. The males taking less frees the money up to offer to any other cast members. There is no law that says it must then be paid to Ms. Stone, nor anyone else. However, there is similarly no law stating they must publicize their decision to not add the freed money to her contract, nor for the males to state that’s what they intended the studios to do with the money they rejected.

  7. Philip says:

    It is commendable that these male stars “put their money where there mouths are” but studios have to pay their stars for what they can attract to the box office. It is a business like every other in that, you are paid what you are worth and that worth is what you bring to the business. Will enough people be drawn to Miss Stone to justify her salary? Can she, alone, carry the picture? Some of the very high paid actors and actresses eventually fall out of favor if they command such high salaries and their films don’t earn.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      I wish that were true. However, the fact of the matter is most movies sell tickets based on who is in them, not that person’s work or talent (or any proof of either).

      Want proof of my statement? Look at Ben Affleck or Tom Cruise, both famous recently for attempts at being on- as well as off-camera parts of the same film. Ben eventually stepped away from one job, while Tom seems to be getting blamed for the lack of box-office earning by his latest film (though, it seems, still being allowed to do the same things to another franchise he has already hurt).

  8. Marco says:

    Kudos to those male co-stars who chose to take a pay cut in order to create a situation of fairness and parity with their female lead. If the studios aren’t going to do anything about systematic sexism within the industry, it’s only right that individuals stand up for their feminist convictions and make a sacrifice of sorts (although, let’s face it, none of these movie stars are starving). In the same way, sexist men should be called out for their BS, the good guys actually making positive choices deserve to be singled out for praise.

  9. tjchurch2001 says:

    “Show of hands” by everyone who is surprised by this… Then admit you’re still typing your comment with both hands due to this being no surprise.

    The truth? This was a BS excuse by the people behind the “Hawaii 5-0” airing currently for the actors leaving doing so for that reason. The fact is the network should be happy they stayed that long on a show that never should have happened.

    Worse yet? They knew the second-run was a mistake, which was proven when they had cross-overs with the “NCIS” series & other similar stunt-casting, etc. They should take the Summer break to remove all mentions of the show from their network & replace it with Season 2 of “Training Day”, “Doubt”, or both.

  10. Island Planet says:

    It’s interesting how defensive many commenters are. Of course a newcomer co-starring with an Oscar winner is not going to get wage parity. But when all other factors are more-or-less equal why is it always the woman being offered the scraps? We never hear stories about how some 35 year old male actor who’s appeared in dozens of hit movies was only offered 2/3 of his younger, less known female co-star. I still don’t understand while the male lead should have to lower his salary in order to increase hers. The studios are still saying that women aren’t worth as much as men and that situation doesn’t force them to change.

  11. Steef_Pip says:

    FFS this shit is getting so tiring!

  12. Alex says:

    So what exactly is the end to all this? All actors on a movie paid exactly the same?

    Actors are basically paid based on how much money their agents can convince the studios their client will bring in (how much value they add to the product). A very subjective process of course, but that’s really what it narrows down to.

    Jennifer Lawrence was paid more for Passengers than Pratt. Why? Lawrence is more valuable. Some of Stone’s male co-stars were paid more than her on certain projects. Why? Depending on the project, they were likely more valuable.

    Seriously, will it have to come to studios offering all roles where leads are paid X, supporting roles paid Y, and extras paid Z? Let me know, because I don’t want to hear any complaining if Emma Stone co-stars with a fresh face male newbie, and the newbie demands to be paid as much as an Oscar winning actress.

  13. Most men are married to a woman.. I don’t have a problem giving up pay for a woman to be matched. What man wouldn’t want their wife to make more money? Money earned by man or woman is helping families regardless.

    If you aren’t a complete piece of crap, then you shouldn’t be offended by women earning as much as you are.. unless, of course you depend on your pay to give you power and you enjoy being a piece of crap to keep women in your life around.

    • Marco says:

      I support the sentiment you express, and I wholeheartedly believe that men should do more, which includes being willing to take a pay cut, in order to promote fairness. But don’t take it for granted that every man is married to a woman. Some of us have male partners and some of us are single. Some of us are even single fathers raising children on one salary. Don’t assume that fairness is in everyone’s material self-interest. That doesn’t negate fairness, but it has to be about principle, not personal benefit.

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        I am not the least but homophobic, so I do not take it for granted every married man is married to a female. However, I have also never been married to anyone, nor had a child through adoption or biological processes. Therefore, I tell you that I feel you also are making unfair assumptions. Fairness in salaries regarding gender is in everyone’s best self-interest, as I am sure there are many female single parents out there as well with the same struggles, & people like me who have no legal/romantic connection to any females or children still wish to see salary equality.

  14. Weary says:

    Did you actually see their W2s?

  15. Rudy Mario says:

    The fact is women led movies make a fraction of what men led movies do. That is a fact. Don’t quote Wonder Woman which is a very rare exception. Even though women are 50% of the population, they do not consistently turn up at the boxoffice for women led movies. It gets worse outside of the US. Practically a small market for women led movies. Maybe that will change some day but attempts to force it will backfire. So, as far as movies are concerned, women will continue to make less than men. But in all other fields, it must be equal pay for the same position with the same qualifications ( education and verifiable achievements).

    • Marco says:

      Not just Wonder Woman (which is destroying the male led Batman v Superman and Man of Steel at the box office), but Beauty and the Beast, Rogue One, The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games franchise and the Twilight films, to name but a few (and let’s not ignore animated films like Moana and Inside Out).

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        I have no problem with forgetting them.

        Not only do the Hunger Games nooks & films seem to make a great deal of their money off the female leads (& the lack thereof in recent history before them), but the Beast (in live-action or animation) could have been played by someone of any gender (as Madea-&-Alex-Cross Tyler Perry proves with his whole career). Lastly, animated films make almost none of their money based on the accomplishments (let alone gender) of their cast-members.

  16. pickles says:

    Why all the crying? There are millions of people who probably have more talent that are waiying for these overly paid actors and actresses.

  17. 1Ronald says:

    Acting is not charity. Not a trend to look for or one you will see catching on. The producer decides what you’re worth. I was in a movie with Bruce and Richard and you can bet Bruce didn’t part with any of his $20m to add to Richard’s $10m. No, this is not a feel good story. It’s crazy stupid if you could even call it that.

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