Hilary Swank Was Once Offered $9.5 Million Less Than a Male Costar

Hilary Swank told an eye-opening story about Hollywood’s wage gap problem during a dinner party on an episode of Netflix’s Chelsea talk show.

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The actress, who won her first Oscar in 1999 for Boys Don’t Cry and another in 2004 for Million Dollar Baby, said that even with two Academy Awards, she still struggled to find roles that paid her fairly. Listen to her shocking story in the clip above.

“Then I win my second Academy Award, and the next couple movies later, I get offered a movie,” she said. “But the male hadn’t had any kind of critical success, but had been in a movie where he was ‘hot.’ And he got offered $10 million, and I got offered $500,000. That’s the truth. The truth.” 

Hilary Swank holds her Oscar for best actress during the 72nd Academy Awards on March 26, 2000 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Naturally, Swank turned down the role. “I said no, and then they went and found a newcomer who did it for $50,000,” she said. “So they made a savings of [$450,000], probably to give the guy his bonuses.” 

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Fellow actress Connie Britton, director Ava DuVernay and Miss USA Deshauna Barber, who appeared alongside her on Chelsea, looked shocked and appalled at the anecdote.

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The P.S. I Love You star also revealed that her salary for Boys Don’t Cry wasn’t even enough to get health insurance. “I was 24 years old. I made $3,000. In order to have health insurance, you have to make $5,000,” she said. “I had an Academy Award, no health insurance.”

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