Sharon Stone rejects $100 million film over gender pay gap

Sharon Stone recently drew attention to the ongoing gender pay gap issue in Hollywood. Despite her extensive experience and success in the film industry, Stone was taken aback when she was offered the same salary for a role that she’d earned 30 years ago. That’s while a relatively unknown male actor was offered millions more. This pay inequality is prevalent throughout all professions in the U.S and has barely improved in the past two decades.

Even though the gender pay gap extends beyond Hollywood, the film industry is particularly notorious for its pay disparities. Female actors earn approximately 25% less than their male counterparts. This inequality also extends behind the camera, with only about 22% of directors in Hollywood being women. Sharon Stone’s recent experience serves as a bold reminder of this ongoing issue.

Sharon Stone’s Indignant Reaction to Pay Disparity

In a recent interview with Deadline, Stone stated that she had rejected a role in a movie with a $100 million budget due to the pay gap between her and a new, male actor. Astonishingly, the studio offered her the exact same amount she was paid for her role in the 1992 film Basic Instinct, which was at least 16 times less than what her co-star was going to receive.

“Thirty years ago, when I did ‘Basic Instinct,’ Michael Douglas made $14 million and I made $500,000. Last year, there was a $100 million film being made by a studio and the actor, who was new, was going to be paid something like $8 million or $9 million – someone we don’t really know – and the studio offered me again $500,000 to be the female lead. And I thought, thirty years later this is still happening. So, I don’t think it has changed much. So, I turned it down and the studio head said, ‘Well, good luck to you Sharon.’ And I said, ‘Well, good luck to you.’ And two weeks later he was fired.”

Sharon Stone

The Pervasive Gender Pay Gap in US Professions

A study by the Pew Research Center substantiates the prevalence of the gender pay gap across all professions in the U.S. Disturbingly, the gap has seen minimal improvement in the past 20 years. In 2022, women earned just 82% of what men did, a marginal improvement from 80% in 2002. It’s even more egregious in the film industry, with female actors receiving about 25% less than men.

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Difficulties for Women In Directing

Also troubling is the scarcity of women in director roles, another aspect of inequality in Hollywood. Only around 22% of directors are women. Stone herself once aspired to direct but found little support from studios. The irony is that women directors globally, even from regions with reputation of inequality, are gaining recognition while opportunities for women in Hollywood remain limited.

“When I did ‘Basic Instinct‘, I wanted to direct a film and I got laughed out of the studio. And now you see that two out of the six women that had their films nominated in Cannes, were women that were funded out of Saudi Arabia. And so, people say, ‘Well, how could you go to Saudi Arabia and look at all of those injustices in Saudi Arabia?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know – I think it was pretty unjust that I couldn’t direct in America.”

Sharon Stone

Take a Stand

Change is slow, and the fight for equality continues. But every voice counts, and when stars like Sharon Stone take a stand and turn down unfair deals, it shines a spotlight on the issues. Perhaps, it’s worth exploring how films with more equitable representation fare. For a curated collection of films that champion equality, check out the offerings at HITPLAY.