Aaron Sorkin’s New Sony Hack Email: Male Actors Have More Competition and Higher Bars to Hit Than Female Actresses Vying For Oscars

Aaron Sorkin
Newly leaked emails from the Sony hack reveal Aaron Sorkin's thoughts on male actors versus female actresses. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Once again, one of the biggest opponents of releasing information from the Sony hack is also the subject of its leaked information. A new email, released by The Daily Beast, is from famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to Times columnist Maureen Dowd, which Dowd later forwarded to Sony co-chair Amy Pascal. His email touched on Dowd’s column “Frozen in a Niche?,” which was published on March 4, following last year’s Oscars. The op-ed discusses the lack of female representation and diversity in Hollywood.

The Oscar winner, 53, called Dowd’s piece “great and very interesting,” adding that he would “only take issue with one thing and that’s the idea that something like Bridesmaids is seen as a fluke and that’s why we don’t see more movies like Bridesmaids. There’s an implication that the studio heads have a stack of Bridesmaids-quality scripts on their desk that they’re not making and it’s just not true. The scripts aren’t there.”

Since Dowd’s column directly mentioned Cate Blanchett’s acceptance speech for her Best Actress win, Sorkin called out her celebrated performance in Blue Jasmine saying “the degree of difficulty” was “nothing close to the degree of difficulty” of any of the leading male performances that year (Matthew McConaughey took home the Best Actor Oscar in his role for Dallas Buyers Club, beating Christian Bale in American Hustle, Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave). 

daniel day lewis and jennifer lawrence
David James/20th Century Fox; JoJO Whilden

“That's why year in and year out, the guy who wins the Oscar for Best Actor has a much higher bar to clear than the woman who wins Best Actress,” Sorkin wrote. “Cate gave a terrific performance in Blue Jasmine but nothing close to the degree of difficulty for any of the five Best Actor nominees. Daniel Day-Lewis had to give the performance he gave in Lincoln to win — Jennifer Lawrence won for Silver Linings Playbook, in which she did what a professional actress is supposed to be able to do. Colin Firth/Natalie Portman. Phil Hoffman had to transform himself into Truman Capote while Julia Roberts won for being brassy in Erin Brockovich. Sandra Bullock won for The Blind Side and Al Pacino lost for both Godfather movies. Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep can play with the boys but there just aren't that many tour-de-force roles out there for women.” 

It’s noteworthy that he mentioned Natalie Portman, who took home the 2011 Oscar for her raw, intense role Black Swan (Firth won playing a stuttering royal in The King’s Speech). That same year Sorkin swept the awards for his screenplay for The Social Network.

natalie portman
Courtesy Everett Collection

During his 2011 Golden Globes acceptance speech for The Social Network, he addressed the women in the room, saying, “I want to thank all the female nominees tonight for helping demonstrate to my young daughter that elite is not a bad word, it’s an aspirational one.” 

Sorkin’s newly leaked comments also raise some eyebrows since he is seemingly complaining that women aren’t offered better material when he himself is doing little to fix that with his male-driven TV shows and films. 

The new email comes just one day after Sorkin penned an impassioned essay for The New York Times, coming out against the media releasing any of the hacker’s information on Sony and its employees. The headline-making hack has released personal information, company secrets, and inter-company emails from top executives. 

“As a screenwriter in Hollywood who’s only two generations removed from probably being blacklisted, I’m not crazy about Americans calling other Americans un-American, so let’s just say that every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable,” the West Wing creator wrote in the piece titled “The Sony Hack and the Yellow Press.”

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