Benedict Cumberbatch Is Refusing To Take Jobs That Don’t Offer Equal Pay To Women

Thanks in part to the Time’s Up movement, everyone in Hollywood, from directors to actors, is speaking out about the need for equal pay for women in the entertainment industry and beyond. And one star in particular is putting his money where his mouth is. Benedict Cumberbatch says he refuses to act in a project that does not offer equal pay to his female co-star.

“Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism,” Cumberbatch said in an interview with Radio Times. “Look at your quotas. Ask what women are being paid, and say: ‘If she’s not paid the same as the men, I’m not doing it.’”

benedict cumberbatch photo
Getty Images | Rich Fury

Cumberbatch also says he plans to use his new production company, SunnyMarch, as a vehicle to promote more women-focused work, with the company’s next project being a story about motherhood in a time of environmental disaster.

Cumberbatch’s declaration comes on the heels of a similar suggestion from actress Salma Hayek, who says male Hollywood stars should take a pay cut in order to level the playing field.

“If actors ask such inflated fees it will leave nothing for actresses,” Hayek said during a Women in Motion talk at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month. “If the movie’s budget is $10m, the [male] actor has to understand that if he is making $9.7m, it’s going to be hard for equality. Otherwise they will kill the movie.”

salma hayek photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

Other female celebrities have been vocal about their struggles to be paid equally to their male counterparts, such as “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, who grappled with sexism when negotiating her salary for playing the title character in the successful series. Last year, she made history when she secured a $20 million-a-year deal for her role.

It’s so great that these Hollywood heavyweights are speaking out on such an important issue!