Want to fix this, Mark Wahlberg? Write a check

Michelle Williams was given less than 1 percent of Wahlberg's pay for reshoots for "All the Money in the World"

Published January 10, 2018 2:48PM (EST)

Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams (Getty/Kevin Winter)
Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams (Getty/Kevin Winter)

When "All the Money in the World" promptly recast Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer just six weeks before its release, director Ridley Scott and others behind the scenes were lauded for their quick decision to not move forward with an alleged sexual abuser in a star role.

That praise, however, is being replaced by criticism after the release of a report by USA Today claiming that Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million during those reshoots, while co-star Michelle Williams was paid less than $1,000, less than 1 percent of Wahlberg's compensation.

The drama, which premiered in December, was reshot the week of Thanksgiving in Europe after the allegations against Spacey, one of the film's original stars, were made public and multiplied.

USA Today said that it spoke to "three people familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly," and that "the reshoot cost $10 million (a fee put up by producing arm Imperative). In December, Scott told USA Today that the undertaking was aided by the fact that 'everyone did it for nothing.'"

USA Today published a transcript of the conversation and it reads as follows:

RIDLEY SCOTT: "The whole reshoot was — in normal terms was expensive but not as expensive as you think. Because all of them, everyone did it for nothing."

USA TODAY: "Really?"

SCOTT: "No, I wouldn’t get paid, I refused to get paid."

USA TODAY: "You didn’t pay the actors more to do it?"

SCOTT: "No, they all came in free. Christopher had to get paid. But Michelle, no. Me, no. I wouldn’t do that to — "

USA TODAY: "The crew, of course, did get paid?"

SCOTT: "Of course."

While Scott didn't mention Wahlberg specifically in this exchange, USA Today said that it discovered that his team acquired a sizable fee for the reshoots ($1.5 million), and his negotiations reportedly were not communicated with Williams, though they both are represented by the William Morris Endeavor agency. Instead, Williams received $80 per diem, which totaled less than $1,000 after shooting was complete.

"I said I'd be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me. And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted," Williams had told USA Today previously, regarding the reshoots. "Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort."

Now, there is a good reason that Wahlberg's salary should be somewhat higher than Williams'. According to Forbes, he was the highest-paid actor of 2017, with total earnings of $68 million. Yet the pay disparity between them on the reshoot is rationally galling, particularly with the rampant pay inequity within and without Hollywood being a front-page issue. Indeed, when Time's Up announced its initiative and legal defense fund, which Williams is a part of, one of the tenets was eradicating the gender pay gap.

And it's not just pay disparity on the table here; it is also the idea that women are expected to address and fix problems created by men — in this case, Spacey. It's something we've seen throughout the long history of sexual dynamics and the shorter history of the #MeToo movement. In some sense, it could be said that Williams may have been compensated based on the expectation that she would come to the rescue here, that she would fulfill her role, while Wahlberg was compensated based on an estimation of what his time is worth to him.

While Wahlberg may not have known his co-star had agreed to reshoot the scenes for such a low price or what others on set were being compensated, he has almost instantly become the new poster boy for a larger problem. Whenever someone wants to note pay disparity in Hollywood from now on, all they will have to say is "Mark Wahlberg."

There's an easy way around this, though: Perhaps the highest-paid actor in Hollywood could write a check to Time's Up or RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). Let's say $1.5 million — minus $1,000, of course. He earned that.

By Rachel Leah

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