Purge of Kevin Spacey Gives ‘All the Money in the World’ a Pay Problem
Posted January 10, 2018 8:43 p.m. EST
LOS ANGELES — The kidnapping drama “All the Money in the World” has become a new flash point in the debate over gender equality in Hollywood.
Ridley Scott, who directed the movie, and Imperative Entertainment, the company that produced and financed it, were lauded in December for purging the disgraced actor Kevin Spacey from the film. After multiple men accused Spacey of unwanted sexual advances, the “All the Money in the World” team replaced him with Christopher Plummer and hastily reassembled much of the cast and crew in London for reshoots.
“We cannot let one person’s behavior affect the good work of all of these other people,” Scott said at the time.
But the movie, about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and his grandfather’s refusal to pay a $17 million ransom, now finds itself embroiled in a new scandal. And it involves the reshoots made necessary by the attempt to release the movie with a clear conscience.
The film’s female star, Michelle Williams, was paid a per diem of 80 pounds, or about $108, a bit above the union minimum, for 10 days of added work. Her male counterpart, Mark Wahlberg, received the same per diem — plus $1.5 million.
The salary disparities were reported on by USA Today on Monday and the details were confirmed by three people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private contracts. The disclosure prompted instant outrage.
“She has been in the industry for 20 yrs,” actress Jessica Chastain wrote on Twitter of Williams, a four-time Oscar nominee. “She deserves more than 1% of her male co-star’s salary.”
The director Judd Apatow wrote, “This is so messed up that it is almost hard to believe. Almost. This is how this business works.”
Adding to the anger, Scott had previously said that the actors did the reshoots “for nothing” — meaning union minimums — and Williams and Wahlberg are both represented by the William Morris Endeavor agency.
The disclosure of specific salary details also came just after Sunday’s Golden Globes, which was a showcase for Time’s Up, a new initiative to end sexual harassment and gender inequality in Hollywood and other industries. Williams, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role in “All the Money in the World,” walked the red carpet with Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity and the founder of the #MeToo movement.
Most contracts with actors include a certain number of reshoot days as a routine stipulation. If additional filming is needed, actors will make themselves available — as their schedule allows — to clean up scenes. But Williams and Wahlberg, both of whom had agreed to appear in “All the Money in the World” for less than their standard fee, took different approaches to the reshoots, according to the people briefed on the matter.
Because of the circumstances, Williams quickly agreed to return. The people briefed on the matter said that she did so believing that other participants had made the same decision. She ultimately worked over Thanksgiving, racing to London on an overnight flight after arranging for her 12-year-old daughter, Matilda, to spend the holiday without her.
“They could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted,” she said of the production team at the time. “Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”
Although several actors with small parts, including Timothy Hutton, had agreed to return for reshoots for minimum pay, Wahlberg was not one of them, according to the people briefed on the negotiations. He asked his primary agent, Doug Lucterhand, to push for more money. (Williams is represented at William Morris Endeavor by Brent Morley.) Wahlberg was already not thrilled to have worked for roughly 80 percent less than his standard fee, the people said, especially since overseas distributors were using his box office track record to promote the film.
Because Williams had already committed to return, Wahlberg had leverage over the production team: He was the only major missing piece, and the clock was ticking. The finished film was set to be released in theaters on Dec. 25.
Imperative ultimately agreed to a $1.5 million payment.
Spokesmen for Imperative, William Morris Endeavor and Sony Pictures, which distributed “All the Money in the World,” declined to comment for this article. Publicists for Williams, Wahlberg and Scott either declined to comment or did not respond to queries.
Individual client contracts are not always discussed between agents who work at the same agency. It is possible that those representing Williams did not know about the deal that Wahlberg was able to secure. When inequitable pay has become an issue in Hollywood in the past — as with Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams for “American Hustle” and Taraji P. Henson for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — agents have defended themselves by pointing out that it is in their best interest to negotiate the biggest paychecks possible for their clients, regardless of gender. Agents generally work for a 10 percent cut of the payments they secure.
But many advocates and actresses are likely to find those explanations inadequate. Melissa Silverstein, the founder of Women and Hollywood, a nonprofit that pushes for gender equality in entertainment, said Williams was the latest example of the shortchanging of women in a male-dominated industry.
“This continuous undervaluing of women has led to an industry where women have fewer jobs, less power and less potential than the men,” Silverstein said. “If Hollywood is to achieve the systemic change brought about by the revelations of the last several months, one thing it must address is the economic disparity between men and women.”