One of the most discussed issues in Hollywood today is the gender pay gap, and the fact that male stars often make more than their female counterparts for the same job. This is not exclusively a Hollywood problem, as pay inequity exists across society to varying degrees and is therefore not the kind of thing that is fixed quickly or easily. Instead of waiting for the problem to fix itself, some are putting their money where their mouth is and forcing the issue. One such actor is Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently said he would turn down a role if his female co-star isn't paid the same as him. The actor explained his reasoning saying:
Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism. 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 is a stalwart feminist, so this goes to show that he doesn't just espouse his beliefs, he lives by them. Perhaps that means passing on great jobs or big paydays, but the actor is practicing what he preaches to combat the issue of pay inequity. While this won't solve the pay gap everywhere, the actor is doing what he can to ensure that he and his films are not part of the problem. Cumberbatch's suggestion that actors like himself take an active role and do the same is a bold approach, and one that any studios looking to book the actor for a film should be prepared for.
Benedict Cumberbatch is also living up to his feminist ideals by using his new production company SunnyMarch (which is made up of primarily women) to back female-focused dramas. As he told Radio Times, the actor is able to do this and get such films financed and made because of the strength of his name in the industry. His ultimatum approach is an admirable one, and could definitely work for he and other actors with similar star power. Of course, not every actor is as in demand or has the clout of Benedict Cumberbatch. An actor with less name value and more in need may find himself without a job if he gives such an ultimatum. Therefore, larger institutional changes will need to be made to correct for the issue in the industry as a whole.
Similarly, many female actors don't always have the luxury of demanding equal pay. Struggling actresses cam either want or need a job bad enough, and therefore take these jobs regardless. The pay gap also disproportionately affects women of color, but people are now aware of this issue and pay inequity does not go unnoticed. Recently, there was an uproar over Claire Foy getting paid less than Matt Smith on Netflix's The Crown, a show that she is the star of. The industry is changing though with some taking a proactive approach like HBO's Westworld paying Evan Rachel Wood the same as her more famous male co-stars.