Claire Underwood would never accept anything less than being treated as an equal to her husband, so it seems only fitting that Robin Wright demanded that she be paid exactly the same as her co-star Kevin Spacey for her involvement in House of Cards.
In an hour-long discussion about gender equality and human rights as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Insight Dialogues conversation series, Wright told the audience that initially she had to fight for this: “I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’”
There are very few series that can say that two of their lead characters hold equal weight and Wright was more than aware of this as the episodes went on. Like yin and yan, the show they work on is a perfect (and rare) example of equally billed male and female characters who are depicted as equals.
“It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards,” Wright said.
Wright has appeared in all 52 episodes of House of Cards and directed several. Both she and Spacey are listed as executive directors of the series’ fifth season.
“I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it. I was like: “‘You’d better pay me or I’m going to go public.’”
“And they did.”
Wright, who plays the steely First Lady in the hit series, has been credited instrumental in making Claire Underwood as central a character as she is – she was initially written as mere “arm candy” in the early scripts. Without a doubt her enigmatic portrayal alongside Spacey as President Frank Underwood has been widely acclaimed and credited as a central part to the show’s prolonged success; season four, after all, has been all about Claire.
I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it.
She also spoke of barriers she had faced as a woman in the industry and told the audience that her earning power had been affected by having children during her marriage to fellow actor Sean Penn.
“Because I wasn’t working full-time, I wasn’t building my salary bracket. If you don’t build that … with notoriety and presence, you’re not in the game any more. You become a B-list actor. You’re not box office material,” she said.
“You don’t hold the value you would have held if you had done four movies a year like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett did during the time I was raising my kids. Now I’m kind of on a comeback at 50 years old.” And what a comeback it has been.
The fact that she is speaking about so openly about the disparity she encountered is to be applauded; she is the latest in a long line of powerful female figures to fight the gender wage gap.
Via The Guardian