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“The first thing I'd teach a girl of mine is the words ‘f*** off’” Helen Mirren and Hollywood's leading stars discuss the gender pay gap

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Every year, Hollywood's leading actresses come together to discuss the issues of the moment.

Naturally, this year's hot topic is the gender pay gap after April's Sony hacking scandal revealed that American Hustle stars, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, were paid less than their male co-stars. 

Sitting around The Hollywood Reporter's round table on Saturday, Helen Mirren, 70, Cate Blanchett, 46, and Jennifer Lawrence, 25, spoke of how the unequal salaries between men and women is a challenge all industries face, and is not one limited to the film business.

They were joined by Kate Winslet, 40, Carey Mulligan, 30, Jane Fonda, 77, Brie Larson, 26, and Charlotte Rampling, 69, who contributed to discussions on the difficulties of acting - such as loneliness - and how they film those awkward sex scenes...

Take a look at our highlights from the discussion below. 

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence in 2013's American Hustle

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence in 2013's American Hustle

On the gender pay gap...

Lawrence: (Speaking about the reaction to her open letter on the issue) There's always a backlash in everything that you do, but it's not going to stop or change anything. And it's not only an issue in Hollywood. When you're asking about roles for men and women, men certainly have a longer shelf life. Men can play the sexy lead for 20 years longer than we can —

Blanchett: It's lazy thinking across all industries. We're at the pointy and probably the most public end, but in what industry do women receive equal pay for equal work? I can't think of any.

Lawrence: Across all fields, women are generally paid 21 percent less than men.

Mirren: I love the way you wrote about it because you wrote about it very simply and personally. I so recognized that thing you said about, "I didn't want to be an asshole," you know? I want to be polite. We've got to stop being polite. If I ever had children, which I don't, the first thing I'd teach a girl of mine is the words "f— off."

On filming nude and sex scenes...

Lawrence: I had my first real sex scene a couple weeks ago [while shooting Passengers with Chris Pratt], and it was really bizarre. It was really weird.

Blanchett: When you say "real" sex scene, do you mean penetration or…? 

Lawrence: No, no. Thank you for clarifying. It was weird. And everything was done right; nobody did anything wrong. It's just a bizarre experience.

Interviewer: How do you prepare for that?

Lawrence: You drink. I got really, really drunk. But then that led to more anxiety when I got home because I was like, "What have I done? I don't know." And he was married. And it was going to be my first time kissing a married man, and guilt is the worst feeling in your stomach. And I knew it was my job, but I couldn't tell my stomach that. So I called my mom, and I was like, "Will you just tell me it's OK?" It was just very vulnerable.  And you don't know what's too much. You want to do it real, you want everything to be real, but then … That was the most vulnerable I've ever been.

Mulligan: There's always the things that you think are going to be tough. I've been nude once, and I was like, "Oh, that's going to be a nightmare," and actually that was fine. It's kind of, "F— it, now I'm naked and everyone else isn't. This is hilarious."

The Hollywood Reporter's round table panel for 2015

The Hollywood Reporter's round table panel for 2015

On the loneliness of acting...

Kate Winslet: It can be lonely, actually, especially when you're younger. I remember those moments of going, "Wow, I'm doing this by myself." And what's interesting is: Who do you act for? I remember being asked that in a room with lots of really scary people, like Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi. And everyone said a parent. Every single person.

Blanchett: As a way of seeking approval? It's that whole thing, isn't it, that actors want to be liked? And that doesn't interest me at all. What I love about the theater is that you know who you're acting for: your audience. And the thing I find really hard in film is, you don't. The audience is invisible. And we're sitting there, hoping there's other people out there.

Lawrence: I really act for myself. I really love it. I don't think there's a way that you could handle these schedules, all of the actual work that goes into it, if you don't really, really love it.

Fonda: I never wanted to be an actor. My dad was an actor, and he never brought joy home, so I didn't view it as something that I would want to do. But I got fired as a secretary, and then I started studying, and Lee Strasberg said I was talented, so I started doing it just to earn money. And it took me a long time to learn to love it.

The Hollywood Reporter's latest cover

The actresses of the round table front The Hollywood Reporter's latest cover

Read an extended highlights of the interview at hollywoodreporter.com

Images: Rex Features, The Hollywood Reporter

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