The five original cast members of The Big Bang Theory are reportedly taking a pay cut in order to help two of their female co-stars get raises.
According to Variety, Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh) and Simon Helberg (Howard) each offered to drop their pay from $1 million (approximately £814,000) per episode to $900,000 (£732,000).
The money saved would be split between Mayim Bialik (who plays Amy) and Melissa Rauch (who plays Bernadette) – who currently earn $200,000 (£163,000) per episode and joined the show in the third series.
All seven members of the beloved sitcom are incredibly close behind the scenes, which is why they’re eager to tackle the disparity in pay before signing up to a potential 11th and 12th season of the sitcom.
However, despite each taking a pay cut, the money saved from Cuoco and co’s salaries will only boost Rauch and Bialik up to $450,000 (£366,000) per episode — more than $21 million (£17 million) for their two-year, 48-episode renewal.
This wouldn’t be the first time that the cast of a television show have worked together to ensure they all receive equal pay.
In the early days of Friends, the actors were paid equally, at $22,500 an episode. But as the show picked up steam in the second season — and Rachel and Ross’s relationship became one of the main storylines — Aniston and Schwimmer began to earn more.
The Big Bang Theory, which started in 2007, now draws over 20 million viewers in the US alone – which, considering Friends was watched by an average of 23.6 million people, makes it a seriously big player in the world of TV sitcoms.
Despite this, the future of The Big Bang Theory has been up in the air for months, though CBS CEO Leslie Moonves recently said a two-season renewal was “very, very close,” Deadline reported earlier this month.
Images: Friends / The Big Bang Theory