A story broke today that Mark Wahlberg was paid 1,500 times more than Michelle Williams when they did re-shoots for the upcoming movie, All the Money in the World. Originally, Kevin Spacey starred in the Ridley Scott flick, but when the sexual allegations came out about the award-winning actor, Scott promptly dropped him from the movie and decided to re-shoot his scenes with a completely different actor.
Williams decided that as an act of solidarity for victims of sexual abuse, she would not take any money, only making a per diem $1,000 over the nine days of filming.
“I said I’d be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me,” Williams told USA Today in December. “And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”
Wahlberg on the other hand, decided to take the money, getting paid $1.5 million for the re-shoot.
Now, he’s taking quite a bit of heat, with the typical response from others in the industry as well as the media being that this is a prime example of wage inequality.
Here’s the thing: this is not wage inequality. This is one actress making a choice not to get paid and another actor choosing to do so. Women absolutely should be paid the same amount of money as men if they’re doing the same work – or in this case, sharing the same amount of screen time.
Mark Wahlberg is a huge star. His movies make millions at the box office and he’s currently the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Michelle Williams, a great actress in her own right, does not command the same kind of box office presence. So all this re-shoot nonsense aside, an argument could be made that she’s not an equal draw to the box office and paying Wahlberg more, even though they are co-stars, is still actually not pay inequality because he’ll bring in revenue for the studio, whereas she won’t.
That’s all hypothetical of course because the issue here is the money made during the re-shoot. And in this instance, it’s Williams own fault, not Wahlberg’s, that she wasn’t paid. She could have brought home a paycheck just the same as him, but chose not to as a statement.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Michelle.