Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“You’d better pay me or I’m going to go public.” How Robin Wright fought for (and won) equal pay on House of Cards

Robin Wright Claire Underwood Frank House of Cards Kevin Spacey Equal Pay Gender Inequality.jpg

The character she plays on House of Cards would certainly never blanch at asking for what she wants, so it’s only fitting that Robin Wright didn’t bat an eyelid when demanding the same pay as co-star Kevin Spacey.

In an hour-long discussion about gender equality and human rights as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Insight Dialogues conversation series, Wright told the audience: “I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’”

And her argument was bolstered by the fact the very show they work on is an impeccable (and all too rare) example of equally billed male and female characters and depicts an equal relationship.

“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,” Wright explained, as reported by The Huffington Post.

“I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it. I was like: ‘You’d better pay me or I’m going to go public.’

“And they did.”

Robin Wright Claire Underwood House of Cards Screening April 2015 Gender Pay Gap Inequality

Robin Wright at a House of Cards screening in April 2015

It’s a move to be applauded, given how many women – as actor Jennifer Lawrence referenced in an open letter last year – are made to feel like ball-busters or spoilt divas when it comes to closing the gender pay gap.

It's previously been revealed that Wright, also an executive director of the show, was instrumental in making Claire Underwood as central a character as she is – having initially been written as mere “arm candy” – and her portrayal of the First Lady alongside Spacey as President Frank Underwood has been widely acclaimed and often credited as a huge part of the show’s success.

But the actor, 50, also referenced a leaner time in her career. Asked by the foundation’s president, Judith Rodin, what barriers she’d faced as a woman in Hollywood, Wright said her ability to command bigger pay cheques had been affected when she took time out to have children.

“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. Now I’m kind of on a comeback at 50 years old.”

It's not the first time Wright has discussed how she feels she has "arrived" later in life, saying in an interview published last year, “I feel as though I’ve just graduated. I mean, I never went to college. I was pregnant at 23.

“You hear people say how they have ‘arrived,’ but it was just always there, waiting to come out. For me, it just took a long time. I’m 48. I’m finally a person. I think I’m finally ready.”

Images: Getty / Rex Features

Related

rexfeatures_4375586al.jpg

Robin Wright: “You don't have to be a bitch to be powerful”

thelma-and-louise-reunion-1.jpg

Susan Sarandon: Thelma and Louise would never have been made today

claire-underwood-brunette-hair-burgundy-dress.jpg

“Heels have nothing to do with power in the workplace”

Cyndi Lauper Late Show James Corden Girls.jpg

Watch Cyndi Lauper nail a new version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

francis_rt.jpg

Your House of Cards cheat sheet: season four

carriebradshawsjpsatc.jpg

How stars really feel about their iconic alter egos

rexfeatures_5599153ah.jpg

Patricia Arquette’s equality Oscars speech has cost her work

téléchargement-11.jpg

Rare behind-the-scenes photos from iconic films and TV

rexfeatures_4462376l.jpg

Robin Wright on on Sean Penn, love and Claire Underwood’s iconic hair

Comments

More

Millennials, Helen Mirren has shared her top 5 rules for a happy life

And they're seriously badass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

Melania Trump once again refuses to hold her husband's hand on camera

President Donald Trump has tried to grab his wife’s hand twice on camera – and been expertly swatted away each time

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

People share messages of defiance after Manchester terror attack

“Don't be afraid. Dance until you're dizzy”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 May 2017

The Royal Family thank people of Manchester following terror attack

“I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded”

by Amy Swales
23 May 2017

Theresa May responds to Manchester terror attack

“Britain's spirit will never be broken”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 May 2017

“We stand by your side”: the world responds to the Manchester attack

“We can do little more, but we are here. Solidarity has no frontiers.“

by Kayleigh Dray
23 May 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Beyoncé and Blue Ivy's frolicking to Salma Hayek's pink hair

by Nicola Colyer
23 May 2017

Pippa Middleton’s wedding: all the pictures

The gown, the guests, the royal bridal party

21 May 2017

Gal Gadot explains why the new Wonder Woman is a feminist film

"People have a misconception about what feminism is"

by Moya Crockett
19 May 2017

Robin Wright is still receiving less pay for House of Cards role

She believed she was awarded the same pay as Kevin Spacey in 2016

by Jasmine Andersson
18 May 2017