Today in systemic sexism: It turns out that the wage gap between Oscar-winning actress Michelle Williams and former leader of the Funky Bunch Mark Wahlberg for Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World was not confined to the film’s reshoots. In the same article in The Hollywood Reporter where it was revealed that Tracee Ellis Ross’ Black-ish salary is “significantly less” than that of her co-star Anthony Anderson (as reported yesterday by our sister site The Root), an introductory paragraph drops this less-than-appetizing little tidbit: Wahlberg’s salary for the film was $5 million, while Williams made a mere $625,000.
For more insight into how the fuck this happened, we turn to our own story about Emma Stone’s statement that her male co-stars have taken pay cuts for her that was published last July:
Offers extended to Hollywood actors to appear in a film or TV series are based on quotes, which are basically whatever that actor’s made in the past. The offer will also be adjusted based on the budget of the film and the size of a particular actor’s role. That second part comes into play with the Hollywood pay gap, given that a majority of films and TV series have male protagonists. So even if an actress is being offered a starring role, her pay is based on her quote, which comes from her past dozen roles as a love interest or sidekick with less screen time.
Looking at Wahlberg’s and Williams’ last half-dozen or so film roles on IMDb, it appears that Wahlberg has toplined—and appeared on the poster for—every one of his movies since 2015's Entourage. Meanwhile, Williams, while leading the cast list for indie productions like 2016's Certain Women, has appeared in mostly supporting roles and ensemble casts since 2011, when she was nominated for an Oscar for her title role in My Week With Marilyn. (Her Oscar nomination for Manchester By The Sea was especially notable, given her relatively brief screen time in the film.)
That’s not an attempt to justify the discrepancy: Williams and Wahlberg co-headline All The Money In The World alongside Christopher Plummer, and given Williams’ reputation as an exceptional actress, there’s no reason to pay her so much less than Wahlberg, whose commercial prospects have been declining so sharply he was named Forbes’ most overpaid actor of 2017. But it is an attempt to offer up what seems to us a wholly reasonable solution to this particular problem: Screenwriters should write more leading roles for Michelle Williams, and for women in general. With women comprising three of Forbes’ top five “Best Actors For The Buck 2017" and women leading the top three films at the 2017 U.S. box office for the first time since 1958, there’s really no excuse not to.