Natalie Portman Reveals Ashton Kutcher Was Paid Three Times More Than Her for ‘No Strings Attached’
Today in news that will make you scream: Natalie Portman was paid only a third as much as Ashton Kutcher for their 2011 film No Strings Attached. Yes, you read that correctly: Natalie Portman, Oscar winner, made less money than Dude, Where’s My Car? star Ashton Kutcher for No Strings Attached. Am I in The Twilight Zone?
Nope, I’m just in Hollywood, where women are often paid aggressively less than men for the same work. Unfortunately Portman is just one of several actresses to come forward about outrageous pay discrepancies between them and their male co-stars. Portman’s situation, however, might be the most ludicrous of them all given the state of her and Kutcher’s careers in 2011. Portman was already nominated for an Oscar for her work in Closer (2005), and her performance in Black Swan was garnering major awards buzz. (She would go on to sweep the season, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.) Kutcher, on the other hand, had just inked a deal to replace Charlie Sheen in the cringe-worthy sitcom Two and a Half Men, and his last film prior to No Strings Attached, Killers, was a critical and commercial flop. (It grossed only $98 million on a $75 million budget.) Why NSA producers thought Kutcher deserved more coins than Portman is a mystery to me.
“Ashton Kutcher was paid three times as much as me on No Strings Attached,” Portman revealed to Marie Claire U.K., according to Daily Mail. “I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ [the highest an actor has ever been paid] in Hollywood. His [quote] was three times higher than mine, so they said he should get three times more…. I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been. I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain, but the disparity is crazy.”
But, Natalie, we’ll get pissed for you! The reasoning producers gave Portman for paying her less is irrelevant and ridiculous—but such is the case for most of these pay discrepancy stories. (Remember when Jennifer Lawrence, the biggest star in the world, made less than Jeremy Renner for 2013’s American Hustle? I literally saw that terrible movie just for her!)
Frankly, this is a disservice not only to the actresses themselves, but the audience members who love their work. If Hollywood doesn’t start paying up, it’s possible actresses will start bowing out. Thankfully, some producers have received the message. Lawrence was paid twice as much as Chris Pratt for their 2016 film Passengers. And Emma Stone told Vogue that she has frequently experienced equal pay with her male co-stars. Progress!
But we still have a lot more work to do. The gender pay gap still exists and affects all women, not just actresses in Hollywood. That’s why we need to keep talking about it. Hopefully, Portman’s revealing this egregious tale of inequality will raise enough eyebrows to move things along even further.