Julie Delpy says she refused to commit to Before Midnight unless she was paid the same amount as her male co-star, she revealed in an interview with Variety. While promoting her new film My Zoe, Delpy expressed her support for the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements before turning the conversation toward Hollywood’s gender gap. “As a woman, you know you’re paid less as a writer, as a director, as an actress,” she said, noting that while it’s getting easier for women to secure financing and fair wages, it’s still a struggle.
Delpy was speaking from experience: For the first two movies in Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, she claims she earned only a fraction of what Ethan Hawke was paid. Specifically, she says she made “maybe a tenth” of Hawke’s salary on Before Sunrise and half what he made on Before Sunset. (In addition to starring in the film, Hawke and Delpy were also both credited as co-writers of Before Sunset’s script.) “The third movie, I said, ‘Listen, guys, if I’m not paid the same, I’m not doing it,’ ” she told Variety’s Guy Lodge.
Hawke, a self-identified feminist, supported Patricia Arquette after she used her 2015 Oscar win for another Linklater movie, Boyhood, as a platform to advocate for gender equality. “Patricia is a brass tacks, old-school feminist and I have so much respect for her,” Hawke said at the time. “I think it’s about time. She’s right.” Arquette has said she earned less money than she paid her babysitter and dog walker during the 12 years she worked on Boyhood, which had a budget of just $4 million, but Hawke’s salary on the same movie is unknown and Arquette’s comments seemed to be about the industry as a whole rather than Boyhood in particular. Neither Hawke nor Linklater has publicly responded to Delpy’s claims about the Before trilogy yet.
Elsewhere in the Variety interview, Delpy discussed other harsh realities of being a female filmmaker, including her perception that male critics are harder on female directors and how poor reviews make it especially difficult for women to secure financing. She also shared advice for young filmmakers starting out: “Freeze your eggs. Between the time I wrote my first screenplay and I [directed] my first film, it took 20 years, between 16 and 36. You really need to make your first film first and then make your kids. Freeze your eggs because it might take longer than you think.”