Jessica Chastain and Mexican director Guillermo del Toro sat down with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos to talk about their latest film, Crimson Peak. Chastain, who previously worked with del Toro in 2013’s Mama, spoke about diversity—or rather, the lack thereof—in Hollywood, as well as its persistent gender wage gap. The actress said it was the first time she was talking openly about the subject, but she’s definitely not the first to complain.
Earlier this week, Jennifer Lawrence penned an essay on Lenny Letter, Lena Dunham’s e-newsletter, discussing the rampant sexism in Hollywood. She wrote about how “an element of wanting to be liked” held her back from negotiating for more money on projects. It wasn’t until last November, when movie studio Sony was hacked and emails were leaked, that she learned just how much less she was getting paid than her male co-stars.
“As an actress you always feel like there’s a huge wage gap,” Chastain told Ramos. “And you always feel like you’re never getting paid what is fair.”
Chastain also said that Crimson Peak was the first time she was earning exactly what she and her agents thought was fair, in part due to del Toro’s help. “He actually went to bat for me,” she said.
Del Toro said that Hollywood’s gender wage gap is what delayed the production of Crimson Peak for nine years. Because the film was female centric—Jessica Chastain co-stars alongside Mia Wasikowska—it was difficult to get financing from movie studios. He said that studios have limited his budgets on past projects as well, explicitly saying it was because they called for female leads.
Del Toro told Ramos that fellow Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón experienced the same problem when he cast Sandra Bullock as the lead in his 2013 film Gravity. Del Toro said studios pressured Cuarón to change the role so that a male actor could be cast, but the director refused. The film went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Director.
Chastain also addressed the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
“I think it goes even beyond female characters. I just think there’s a lack of diversity period, in Hollywood,” she told Ramos. “I think there’s a generation coming forward that is really demanding it. There’s a huge group of young people going to the movies and they want to see stories that represent them and their friends, and we’ve not done a great job doing that.”
Watch the full interview below