Jessica Chastain asks about male co-star’s pay before accepting film roles

Something for the weekend: American actress Jessica Chastain has taken centre stage in Hollywood’s ongoing gender pay debate, revealing that she asks about her male co-star’s pay before accepting new film roles.

In an interview with Variety, Chastain explained how in the past, her pay would often be decided after the lead male actor was cast and his pay set.

Chastain said: “They wouldn’t want me to do my deal until they cast the male actor. They would wait and see what they had left over, even if they’d come to me first. And so I stopped doing that.”

Now the actress, who has starred in films such as Zero Dark Thirty and The Help, asks how her pay would compare with her male counterparts’ to ensure that she is fairly compensated.

Chastain said: “I don’t care about how much I get paid; I’m in an industry where we’re overcompensated for the work we do. But I don’t want to be on a set where I’m doing the same work as someone else and they’re getting five times what I’m getting.”

Chastain told Variety that she has refused a large film role because of the pay gap. She said: “What you’re doing is creating a reputation: Don’t bring Jessica something where she’s not being fairly compensated compared to the male actor. Even though I lost that film, I’ve created a boundary. I drew a line in the sand.”

Here at Employee Benefits, we applaud Chastain’s decision to take a stand and raise the profile of the gender pay debate. We look forward to seeing what steps the film industry and other sectors take to close the gap moving forwards…