Oscar winner Emma Stone said in an interview with Out Magazine to promote her upcoming Fox Searchlight movie Battle Of The Sexes that some of her male co-stars have taken pay cuts so their salary would be equal to hers. She didn’t mention names in the Out piece, which took the form of a Q&A with her Sexes co-star Andrea Riseborough and Billie Jean King. Stone plays the tennis icon in the tale of King’s famed 1973 tennis match with Bobby Riggs, who is played by Steve Carell.
Stone noted the similarities between the era of the King-Riggs match and today, saying “those parallels make sense to me—the equal-pay issue makes a lot of sense to me. At our best right now [women are] making 80 cents to the dollar.”
“It’s a difficult system because it depends on the kinds of films you’re a part of, the size of your role, how much the movies make at the box office. And so much of that changes your pay throughout your career, so I go more to the blanket issue that women, in general, are making four fifths at best.”
Riseborough, who plays King’s lover Marilyn Barnett in the movie, added that “Hollywood works on quotes, so if somebody’s going to pay a huge actor $52 million to be in a movie or a franchise, he’s going to have a higher quote than anyone else. There are maybe one or two women that have a quote that’s as high as a guy’s, because most films are about white males.”
Stone then said she’s “needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair.”
She added: “If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life. And this is Billie Jean’s feminism, and I love it—she is equality, man: equality, equality, equality.”
Riseborough later in the interview said she’s never had a male co-star make such an offer, and that she has asked for raises on films including about six weeks ago “to no avail. You know, so many times, so many times. It’s difficult.”
The King-Riggs face-off on the court was equal parts sport and theater, held in the sprawling Astrodome with a global TV audience of about 90 million. King, a feminist icon, won in straight sets, and what it meant for women’s tennis — and women’s sports in general — cannot be overstated.
Fox Searchlight releases Battle Of The Sexes on September 22.