Even Claire Underwood Had to Fight for Equal Pay

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Powerful women in Hollywood, from Patricia Arquette to Jennifer Lawrence, are starting to come forward and speak about their industry’s gender wage gap — and now you can add Robin Wright to the list.

Wright, who plays the formidable Claire Underwood on House of Cards says she demanded to be paid as much as her co-star Kevin Spacey, who plays her husband, Frank Underwood.

The Huffington Post reports that during an event at the Rockefeller Foundation on Tuesday, Wright (who also serves as a producer on the show) admitted that she demanded to be paid the same as Spacey.

She elaborated:

It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards.

I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it. I was like, “You better pay me or I’m going to go public. And they did.”

Indeed, Claire is as compelling — if not more compelling — a character as Frank, and she is the only character that can match him at his most nefarious. The show needs them both, so it’s only logical and fair that they get paid the same salary.

And yet logic and fairness isn’t always at the forefront when making such decisions — remember when Gillian Anderson was offered half of David Duchovny’s salary for the X-Files reboot? Unless the producers wanted Duchovny to slap on a red wig and play Scully in addition to Mulder, the show couldn’t function without both actors.

Wright also spoke about her trouble building her career after having children with Sean Penn in the early ‘90s, saying: 

Because I wasn’t working full time, I wasn’t building my salary bracket. If you don’t build that … with notoriety and presence, you’re not in the game anymore. You become a B-list actor. You’re not box office material. You don’t hold the value you would have held if you had done four movies a year like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett did during the time I was raising my kids.

Stars — maybe they really are just like us.