Natalie Portman Reveals Male Co-Star Was Paid Three Times More Than Her

Natalie Portman
Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

In a new interview, Natalie Portman said she was paid a third of what one of her male co-stars earned.

As part of an interview for her cover story with Marie Claire U.K., Portman said that she knew about the pay gap during her time working with Ashton Kutcher on the 2011 film “No Strings Attached,” but revealed that she wasn’t as troubled about the issue as she now believes she should have been.

“I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ in Hollywood,” Portman told the magazine. “His [quote] was three times higher than mine so they said he should get three times more.”


Actors on Actors

“No Strings Attached” was released in January 2011, just before Portman won an Oscar for her performance in “Black Swan.” At that point she had already been nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for “Closer” and was a household name after appearing in the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.

Portman added, “I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy.”

Portman’s discussion of the pay gap comes on the heels of the hacking of Sony in 2015, where thousands of documents were leaked, which included the salaries of several Hollywood stars. The controversy brought the severity of the gender pay gap to the fore.

“Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar,” she said, adding, “In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”

Portman has recently started producing more films including “A Tale of Love and Darkness” which was also her directorial debut. She also reportedly insisted on hiring a female director for an upcoming biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“I don’t think women and men are more or less capable,” Portman added. “We just have a clear issue with women not having opportunities. We need to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the problem.”

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  1. Mor Sunves says:

    You’re making a rom-com. You sign Natalie Portman, who, despite Star Wars, is really an indie movie actress that’s never brought in much money. Now, you go cast Ashton Kutcher, who is one of the current stars of a long-running sitcom and is coming off of Just Married, My Boss’ Daughter, Guess Who, A Lot Like Love, What Happens in Vegas, and Killers, and you think he deserves the same as Natalie? On what planet? Her comedy experience is Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Get bent, Natalie Portman. You learned to be less myopic at Harvard.

  2. godzilla502 says:

    So where was the outrage when Jennifer Lawrence made $20 million to Chris Pratt’s $12 million in PASSENGERS? A film where Pratt worked MORE days and more hours.

    You don’t pay Actors, directors & writers for “equal work”. That’s insane. Artists are paid YES to do the job, but also their marketability. At the time, Kutcher was a bigger name in comedies. He didn’t get his “quote” for “STEVE JOBS”.

    The entire system would collapse if every actor/actress was paid equally. So you’re going to start playing Day Players the same as Tom Cruise? Julia Roberts?

    Speaking of Julia, she made $3 million for 4 days in MOTHER’S DAY. How much did Jason Sudekis make? Hint, he worked MORE than 4 days and didn’t come close to $3Million salary.

    Why doesn’t Portman discuss how much she made on JACKIE compared to Peter Sarsgaard? How much did Portman make in comparison to Joel Edgerton or Ewan MacGregor in JANE GOT A GUN?

    The problem with this story is in detracts from ACTUAL pay inequality issues. If a Female Camera Asst. with the same experience as a male camera asst makes less, THAT’S real pay inequality. If a female Producer’s asst with similar experience makes less than a male producer’s asst. That’s pay inequality.

  3. “A study of the gender wage gap conducted by economist June O’ Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that women earn 98 percent of what men do when controlled for experience, education, and number of years on the job.” – From the International Women’s Forum.
    Me thinks she needs to find a new agent, lol.

  4. It’s all in what you negotiate for terms of employment. Don’t whining like a liberal. Pull up your big girl panties and negotiate like everyone else in the working world.

  5. Trish Lane says:

    I would think the actor who has top billing would make more money than other co-stars. However, I’d watch a movie because you’re in it. After all, you have an Oscar and Ashton doesn’t.

  6. This is nonsense. Pay inequities are value-based. They exist across all gender, racial, and cultural lines. I’m a white guy making movies..and one of my British partners makes 10x what I do. Must be anti-americanism.

  7. Practical Voice in the Hollywood Wilderness says:

    Her AGENT is the true problem. She was coming off a trilogy of some of the BIGGEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME. (For those of you who see the Prequels as failures, um, check the box office.) How the HELL did they ask for a quote that much lower than Ashton freakin’ Kutcher?!!

    I will concede that a big part of it probably had to do with genre. Portman was unproven in the RomCom genre, whereas Kutcher (I’ll assume) was. But still, her reps were idiots.

  8. Phillip Ayling says:

    Interesting to hear someone whining about how their “overscale” was way less than someone else’s, and not a word about ‘Interns’ working on Black Swan for next to nothing and in violation of Federal Labor Law.

    • terry says:

      Why is it whenever someone finally raises an issue like, e.g. disparity of pay in the movie industry, some respond with “why aren’t you bringing up all the other terrible issues in Hollywood?” – She happens to be specifically discussing THIS issue. She is not therefore obliged to raise every other terrible thing that goes on. I don’t care how much she got paid, she is bringing up something that’s important. She should be supported not slammed for it.

      • Phillip Ayling says:

        She is at the top of her workplace and talking about abused people in the bottom rungs of her own workplace makes her complaints about pay disparity seem much less narcissistic. “I worked on a film with a thousand other people and 3 of them made more than I did” doesn’t address the larger issue, it just gives other one-percenters something to commiserate over.

  9. Wow says:

    What do agents & managers do for their celebrity clients again? Wow.

  10. Ciesielski says:

    She’s absolutely right and I sure did not see that flick for Ashton Kutcher…

  11. H Baker says:

    #1 – She signed the contract and took the gig. Made more than any normal person makes in a decade or a lifetime. Bitching at this point is bad form. If you don’t like the deal, don’t sign the contract.

    #2 – It’s about bringing eyeballs. The people who bring eyeballs to a movie, play, etc., are worth more than people who don’t bring as many eyeballs.

    #3 – Ms. Portman will insist on way more money than her female counterparts in a production she signs onto now because she has an Oscar under her belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if she leaves behind her Thespian sisters in order to get what she has ‘earned’.

    Business is competitive. Compete. Women that accept deals that they don’t like only make it worse for themselves in general. Know when to walk away. Maybe women in showbiz haven’t walked away as often as they should.

    • terry says:

      Yep, that’s always a good deflection strategy, blame and vilify the victim so we can all pretend the issue doesn’t exist.

      • H Baker says:

        It’s not deflection at all. The issue clearly exists. The question is what to do about it? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome is a common definition of insanity. Changing the strategy seems like a good thing to consider. I believe female actors and their agents negotiating differently has a better chance of success than more name calling and expressions of indignation.

        I’m actually on your side, I’m just sort of reading from a different script.

    • sarahb8670 says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Women have been told forever to just shut up and be grateful for what we decide you’re worth. And in this business if you so much as peep about it we will blackball you, call you “difficult” (at best), or a bitch or, frequently, a c***, and you won’t work anymore. Oscars (statistically) make it even worse for women. A man doing the same thing? Gosh! That’s good business, he’s a shrewd businessman! She’s a c*** and he’s a good businessman. You think we don’t try to fight for more money? Think we just take what we’re offered? Please, that’s ridiculous. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s about fairness. Ashton f’ing Kutcher? Sexism at its finest.

      • H Baker says:

        Oh, but it IS a popularity contest. It’s the entertainment business.

        Women ‘shut(ting) up and be(ing) grateful for what we decide you’re worth’ perpetuates the problem. It reinforces the notion that this kind of approach works with women. Enough women walking away from bad deals will move the needle. Yes, walking away has unpleasant consequences, but a steady drumbeat of complaints hasn’t really done much over the last couple decades, has it?

  12. Matt says:

    The real question is why the hell would any studio hire Ashton Kutcher in the first place.

  13. F Lee Adama says:

    A third as much. Fix the hed. “Three times less” is utter nonsense.

    • scout124 says:

      Grammar aside (and mine is far from perfect), there should be several factors figuring in to salary for major releases — size of role, recent box office results, how much press will they be doing, merch deals in some cases, all resulting in a percentage of the budget and perhaps a related percentage of the gross — but gender should not be one of those factors.

      Low-budget indie or “art” films are another matter because the budgets are usually miniscule and hardly anyone who’s a name takes those roles primarily for the money anyway.

    • scout124 says:

      Or change it to “male co-star got paid three times more”, that would be right too.

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