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The brilliant reason Benedict Cumberbatch is rejecting film and TV roles

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Kayleigh Dray
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HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 23: Actor Benedict Cumberbatch attends the premiere of Disney and Marvel's 'Avengers: Infinity War' on April 23, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Marvel’s Benedict Cumberbatch has taken steps to ensure he is a true feminist ally.

It’s no secret that women are paid far less than men – even in Hollywood.

Over the years, Claire Foy, Michelle Williams,  Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Sienna Miller, Emily Blunt, Hillary Swank, Diane Kruger, and many more famous, talented actors have come forward to say that they have never been paid as much as a male co-star.

And, although the pay gap problem occurs in every industry, the stats are particularly astounding in Hollywood.

“Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar,” Portman previously explained. “In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.”

So how can we go about changing this statistic? Well, it takes a lot of perseverance and willingness to speak up, of course. And, ideally, it takes the men of the film industry to acknowledge the need for parity, and work to do something about it.

Benedict Cumberbatch is all too aware of this fact – and, during a recent interview with Radio Times, the Avengers: Infinity War actor explained that he has taken steps to ensure he is a true feminist ally.

That’s right: from now on, he’ll only do projects where women are paid equally.

“It’s about implementation,” said Cumberbatch.

“Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism. Look at your quotas. Ask what women are being paid, and say: ‘If she’s not paid the same as the men, I’m not doing it.’”

The real-life Sherlock Holmes continued: “I’m proud that [my friend and partner] Adam Ackland and I are the only men in our production company; our next project is a female story with a female lens about motherhood, in a time of environmental disaster.

“If it’s centered around my name, to get investors, then we can use that attention for a raft of female projects. Half the audience is female. And, in terms of diversity, Black Panther is now the third most successful film of all time.”

It’s not the first time that Cumberbatch has identified himself as a feminist ally: in 2014, the actor donned a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt for Elle’s December issue centred around empowering women.

He also shut down his fans’ original nickname of “Cumberbitches”, suggesting that it undid women’s rights.

Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres, he said: “I definitely didn’t [come up with the name]. That’s part of my problem with it. I just went, ‘Ladies, this is wonderful. I’m very flattered, but has this not set feminism back a little bit? Empower yourselves if you’re going to get silly about a guy with maybe a little bit more of a sort of, you know, a high-regard, self-regarding name!’”

You can read more on the gender pay gap here.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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