How Charlize Theron Used The Sony Hack to Make Millions

A number of celebrities had huge problems with the unfortunate Sony hack. Channing Tatum looked a little silly in leaked emails. Angelina Jolie came off as bratty. But Charlize Theron didn’t sit back and let the hack damage her career. Reportedly, she got aggressive and used the hack to get paid.

Charlize Theron found herself in an unusual spot as Universal tried to get most of the band back together for a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Snow White herself, Kristen Stewart, wasn’t being asked back. But the studio wanted original Huntsman Chris Hemsworth and Theron’s wicked witch to reprise their roles. Only, thanks to leaked information, Theron and her camp learned that, via a report on Fusion, that there existed a significant gap between the wages paid to her male co-star. Studio 360 now reports that Theron and her team demanded that she be paid as much money as Hemsworth. Universal relented, offering the Oscar winner "a deal worth more than $10 million."

Would that have happened if studio salary negotiations were kept in the secretive boardroom, as studio executives likely prefer? Probably not. There were reports, in the wake of the Sony leak, that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid less than their male co-stars on David O. Russell’s American Hustle, as one such example of the unbalanced pay scale at play in Hollywood. And it’s likely that such practices would have continued if actors like Theron – and, actually, lawyers and agents representing actors like Theron – had not been made aware of the lopsided system that prefers men.

There are two reasons why the Charlize Theron negotiation seems more unusual than others. For starters, she’s an original cast members negotiating a sequel, which tends to give a performer a leg up at the negotiation table. How are you going to do a Huntsman movie if you can bring back at least half of the main characters? (Even if you want to add Emily Blunt.) Also, Theron is an Oscar winner. That’s not helping her earn a fair wage alongside her male co-star (who is talented, but primarily known for his Marvel roles)?

According to these reports, though, Universal is now prepared to pay Charlize Theron as much as Chris Hemsworth, which signifies progress. However, as Melissa Silverstein, founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, said in the report, "Until we see some movement in these numbers, I don’t think we have accomplished what we need to accomplish."

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.