You may assume that every movie or TV role earns an actor hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, but that's not always the case. Even when they are making that kind of money, their paychecks may still be a whoooole lot smaller than their costars' — especially for women and actors of color.
Here are 16 actors who said they weren't paid enough for a role:
1. When Christian Bale played the lead in American Psycho, he was paid the "absolute minimum they were legally allowed to pay [him]." His salary was so low that the makeup artists on set laughed at him for making less than they did.
He told GQ, "And so that was my motivation after that. It was just: ‘I got to get enough that the house doesn't get repossessed.'"
2. For her leading role in Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone only "made a little bit of money." Her costar Michael Douglas made $14 million, whereas she didn't make enough to afford a dress for the Oscars.
3. For her Oscar-winning role in Boyhood, Patricia Arquette "paid more money to [her] babysitter and [her] dog walker than [she] made."
Using her acceptance speech to call for equal pay, she said, "To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
4. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for Boys Don't Cry, but she was only paid $3,000 — $2,000 less than the minimum she needed to qualify for health insurance.
On Chelsea Handler's Women's Dinner Party, she said, "I didn’t even know that I didn’t have health insurance until I went and tried to get a prescription filled. They said, 'That’s $160.' I went, 'Um, did you try my insurance?' They said, 'Mmm-hmm.' I had an Academy Award, no health insurance."
5. When she was cast in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Taraji P. Henson "felt like [she'd] finally gotten to this place where [she] could ask for half a million" but "couldn't get it." Instead, she was only paid $150,000, while her costars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett reportedly made millions.
She told InStyle's Ladies First with Laura Brown podcast, "They deserved that, okay, because when this comes out, people are coming because of Brad, and they’re going to discover me. I’m bringing a certain amount to the seat, too, and I felt like what I was asking at that time in my career was fair, was fair to the ticket sales that I would contribute to this big film. Wouldn’t do it. They did $100,000 is what they offered right away, and then, I was gutted. When it was all said and done, I got $150,000, but I had to swallow my pride, baby."
She also revealed that, after taxes were taken out and she paid her team, her profits dwindled to $40,000.
6. In response that she made $7 million for The Martian compared to her costar Matt Damon's $25 million paycheck, Jessica Chastain clarified that she "made less than a quarter of that in reality, so there is a huge wage gap in the industry."
She told HuffPost Live, "It's wonderful that people are starting to talk about the wage gap, and really [admit] that it's an issue."
7. For a Bollywood role she didn't specifically name, Priyanka Chopra Jonas had a producer/director tell her, "This is the budget for the girl, and we can't move beyond that." She told InStyle the amount was "a measly five percent of what [the male lead] was getting."
8. After emails leaked during the Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was given two percent less of the back-end profits than her male American Hustle costars, she wrote an essay on pay disparity in Lena Dunham's "Lenny" newsletter. She wrote, "When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early."
She continued, "I didn't want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don't need. (I told you it wasn't relatable, don't hate me.) At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled.' Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I'm sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share."
9. Shameless star Emmy Rossum was paid less than her costar William H. Macy for seven seasons. However, during Season 8 negotiations, she held out for pay equity, and "as it was happening...the person who supported [her] the most was William H. Macy," which helped make a big difference.
During a Hollywood Reporter roundtable, she said, "To have the man counterpart on my show be like, 'Yes, she does deserve this and more' was so validating. And after it became public, it was a quick resolution."
10. Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract after they released Black Widow on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters, a decision that reportedly cost her $50 million. Her complaint alleged that the company "wanted to lure" viewers to its streaming platform and "substantially devalue Ms. Johansson's agreement and thereby enrich itself."
The case was settled out of court.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Scarlett said, "I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team."
11. After playing a supporting role in Iron Man, Terrence Howard dropped out of the sequel because production "came to [him] with the second [movie contract] and said, 'Look, we will pay you one-eighth of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.'"
On Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, he said, "It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man...when it was time to re-up for the second one, [he] took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out."
12. Similarly, Robert Duvall dropped out of The Godfather Part III after the studio refused to budge on paying his costar Al Pacino three or four times more.
He told CBS News, "I said I would work easily if they paid Pacino twice what they paid me, that's fine. But not three or four times, which is what they did."
13. Natalie Portman "wasn’t as pissed as [she] should have been" when Ashton Kutcher made three times as much as she did for No Strings Attached.
She told Marie Claire, "I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with 'quotes' in Hollywood. … His [quote] was three times higher than mine, so they said he should get three times more. ... I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy. Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar."
15. When Valerie star Valerie Harper asked for a raise, she was fired, and her character was killed off the show. However, she sued for wrongful termination and won.
16. And finally, before the fifth season of Three's Company, Suzanne Somers asked for a raise from $30,000 to $150,000 an episode — which would've given her pay equity with costar John Ritter. However, she was fired the night before renegotiations were due to begin.
She told the Hollywood Reporter, "Life isn’t fair. Getting fired for asking for a raise wasn’t fair, but I landed on my feet, and I’ve done OK."