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Olivia Colman: I'd be paid more if I was Oliver, actress says

Olivia Colman attends the European Premiere of Wicked Little Letters at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on 13 February 2024 in London, England
Olivia Colman attends the European Premiere of Wicked Little Letters at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on 13 February 2024 in London, England

Oscar-winning British actress Olivia Colman has said she would be paid "a lot more" for her films if she was a man.

"I'm very aware that if I was Oliver Colman, I'd be earning a... lot more than I am," she told CNN.

"I know of one pay disparity which was a 12,000% difference. Do the maths."

The issue of equal pay in Hollywood burst into the open a decade ago, but the latest top 10 list of the best-paid actors contains just two women.

Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Colman said: "Research suggests that they [women] have always been big box office draws.

"Don't get me started on the pay disparity, but male actors get paid more because they [executives] used to say they [male actors] draw in the audiences. And actually that hasn't been true for decades.

"But they still like to use that as a reason to not pay women as much as their male counterparts, particularly in our industry."

Olivia Colman
Colman won an Oscar for The Favourite in 2019

Colman joined the Hollywood A-list in 2019 when she won the best actress Oscar for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite, and has since had two more nominations.

She recently appeared in the Wonka film and will feature in the forthcoming Paddington In Peru.

Her TV credits include Heartstopper and Secret Invasion, and she played Queen Elizabeth II in series three and four of Netflix's The Crown.

There was an outcry when it was revealed that Colman's predecessor as the monarch, Claire Foy, was paid less than her on-screen Duke of Edinburgh, Matt Smith. At the time, producers promised that would not be the case for Colman and co-star Tobias Menzies.

Equal pay in Hollywood was put into the spotlight after a hack in 2014 of emails from Sony executives, which revealed, among other things, that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid less than their male co-stars for American Hustle.

'Spoiled'

Lawrence later wrote that she didn't want to push for more during negotiations because she "didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled'".

"At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the internet and realised every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled'."

The treatment of women in Hollywood continued to be in the spotlight as the #MeToo movement took off.

When Kevin Spacey was dropped from the film All the Money in the World following allegations against him, another scandal was sparked when it was revealed that actor Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5m to do reshoots while co-star Michelle Williams received just $80 a day in expenses.

Colman's comments suggest the gender pay gap is an ongoing issue.

This February, research said only 30 of the 100 top-grossing movies of 2023 featured women or girls in lead roles - down from 44 the previous year, and the lowest for almost a decade.

And when Forbes magazine published its latest annual list of the highest-earing actors earlier this month, Margot Robbie and Jennifer Aniston were the only women in the top 10.