When “House of Cards” star Robin Wright discovered she was being paid less than her on-screen husband and co-star Kevin Spacey, the actress did exactly what her character, Claire Underwood, would do, and closed the gap — by any means necessary.
“I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin,'” Wright said during an interview at the Rockefeller Foundation, per the Huffington Post.
“It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in ‘House of Cards,'” she noted of the Netflix series. “I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Spacey’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’ and they did.”
Wright is also an executive producer on the Netflix hit, and has directed a number of episodes. In 2014, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her work on the series.
The conversation was sparked after Wright was asked what kind of barriers she’d faced in Hollywood as a woman, according to HuffPost. Wright enjoyed breakout roles in “Forrest Gump” and “The Princess Bride,” but said her career trajectory slowed after having children.
“Because I wasn’t working full time, I wasn’t building my salary bracket. If you don’t build that … with notoriety and presence, you’re not in the game anymore. You become a B-list actor. You’re not box office material,” Wright reportedly said. “You don’t hold the value you would have held if you had done four movies a year like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett did during the time I was raising my kids. Now I’m kind of on a comeback at 50 years old.”
Equal pay has been a hot topic in Hollywood since Jennifer Lawrence penned a blistering essay addressing the revelation that she was paid less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle” and Patricia Arquette used her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech to demand equal pay and equal rights for women (later admitting that the critique subsequently cost her jobs). California has since introduced the Fair Pay Act in an effort to combat gender discrimination. While progress is slow, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam recently told Variety that the growing awareness of the issue has already resulted in “huge change.”