Season 2 of HBO’s Westworld premiered Sunday night, and the female stars of the series, including Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, are finally, finally confirmed to be receiving equal pay to their male co-stars once Season 3 begins. If it feels a little late, it’s because it is, but at this point we’re excited to see any progress.
Newton confirmed the news to Vanity Fair during a premiere party earlier this month for Season 2 of Westworld, saying that HBO’s decisions during the contract negotiations for Season 3 have been unprecedented. “They’re all happening right now, and yeah, we’re all equal across the board,” Newton told the magazine. “It’s really exciting. It’s unprecedented. It’s—goodness; it shatters so much calcified pain, resentment, frustration. It just shatters it.”
Newton said that HBO’s decision to pay their male and female stars equally not only changes the dynamic on the Westworld set, but changes what she’s willing to accept in future projects outside of the AI robot series, saying she’ll no longer take a lower payday than her male co-stars. “I wouldn’t do anything if it didn’t. Definitely not,” she said. “Fuck that. It literally sets a precedent, and [HBO is] leading the way, which is amazing.”
Wood confirmed earlier this month that she too would finally be paid the same as her male co-stars, revealing that Westworld marks the first time in her career she’s received pay equality. “I was just told that, you know, ‘Hey you’re, you’re getting equal pay.’ And I was like [gasp],” Wood told The Wrap. “And I almost got emotional. I was like, ‘I have never been paid the same as my male counterparts … Never, never.’”
“I found out … I’m always fighting for that,” said Wood. “And I have turned down projects — “Westworld,” it’s like, I get it a little more. It’s like, ‘Well, you’re Anthony Hopkins or Ed Harris.’ But I think now we’re all doing equal amounts of work and really hard work.”
We get that Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris are Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, but there’s also the equally valid argument that Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood are Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood.
When you think of Westworld, Newton and Wood’s characters are likely the first two that come to mind. Their AI characters Delores and Maeve were the lead characters of Season 1, and let’s also not forget that both women, unlike their male counterparts, had to appear naked. So, tons of screen time, impressive previous acting careers, individual Emmy nominations for their acting in Westworld, plus nudity. It’s great that the women are receiving equal pay for Season 3, but it would be even greater if it was retroactive for Seasons 2 and 1. They definitely deserve it.
HBO has been working to correct pay disparities in all their shows, a move that HBO executive Casey Bloys mainly attributes to Big Little Lies star and executive producer Reese Witherspoon, as well as the Time’s Up movement. HBO plans on increasing the number of their female-fronted series in the future, including the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams, as well as the upcoming projects My Brilliant Friend, Happy Valley, and a new series from Nicole Kidman and David E. Kelley.
Season 2 of Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.