Veteran actor Sir Michael Caine has weighed in on the so-called gender pay gap in Hollywood, explaining that the idea that female actresses earn less than their male counterparts for the same work is, in his view, “rubbish.”
“It’s rubbish. I worked with Elizabeth Taylor and she got 10 times more than I did — and that was over 30 years ago,” Caine said in an interview with the UK Mirror.
Caine starred alongside Taylor in Michael G. Hutton’s 1972 film X, Y and Zee.
“I don’t agree about the pay gap because she got a lot more money than me,” Caine added.
The two-time Oscar-winning actor’s comments come as a debate rages across Hollywood about sexism and unfair compensation practices in the entertainment business.
The conversation began in earnest in October 2015, when actress Jennifer Lawrence penned an essay entitled, “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?”
In the essay, Lawrence — who earned more than $50 million last year — wrote that she had been paid far less than her A-list co-stars on the hit 2013 film American Hustle: “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with d*cks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,” Lawrence wrote.
The essay drew wide praise across Hollywood and media, and even earned commendation from Hillary Clinton.
In the months since, actresses including Emma Watson and Salma Hayek have called attention to the gender pay gap.
Actress Patricia Arquette used her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech at the Oscars last year to call for gender pay parity.
“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” Arquette said.
Caine, 83, has made headlines in recent months for speaking freely on a number of controversial topics. In January, the actor said he supported Britain leaving the European Union, while later that month, he told supporters of the #OscarsSoWhite protest to “be patient” in their quest to earn an Academy Award.
In May, Caine told the Telegraph that today’s actors are only in it for the fame, and most “can’t really act.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum