Gillian Anderson Offered Half David Duchovny’s Pay for ‘X-Files’ Reunion
Is this really 'infuriating' news?
Actress Gillian Anderson, made famous for playing Agent Scully in the “X-Files” television series, is upset that she was offered half her co-star David Duchovny’s pay for the series revival before she demanded equal pay. She notes that a similar situation existed when the show debuted in 1993 but that she gradually closed the gap. Slantpoint says this is “infuriating news” on account of “putting in equal star power and screen time.”
I didn’t watch the show during its initial run and my late wife and I only made it through a couple episodes before giving up on it when we tried to get into it via streaming a few years back. So, I can’t really speak to the dynamic on the show itself.
My overall perception, though, is that Duchovny is by far the bigger star. He was already a known commodity when the original show aired, having been the lead on “Red Shoe Diaries,” and went on to star in “Californication.” Anderson, by contrast, was a 25-year-old unknown when the show started and, while she’s worked steadily, hasn’t carried anything of note.
The amount of screen time surely isn’t the only factor in who gets paid what in the entertainment industry. I presume Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe got paid more on “The West Wing” than did John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff (whose names I actually had to look up just now). I presume Cybil Sheppard made more when “Moonlighting” debuted than did Bruce Willis, given that she was already a star and nobody had ever heard of him.
Similarly, Tom Petty gets a much bigger cut than any of the Heartbreakers and Don Henley and the late Glenn Frey made more than their Eagles bandmates.
One of this is to say that sex discrimination doesn’t happen in Hollywood. But Anderson would seem odd case. Especially we don’t know what Duchovny was offered initially. She may be comparing her initial offer to his final negotiated price. It would be odd for the network to start the bidding on her there.
It’s ABSOLUTELY infuriating. Hasn’t created anything of note?!!! Bleak House? The Fall? She’s at LEAST equal to Duchovney in body of work, critical success and fame. With regard to the X-Files in particular, Mulder without Scully episodes are sub-par. Scully without Mulder, far more interesting. I get it, you weren’t a fan and that’s fine, but don’t dismiss what other fans and women are saying about this. It’s a BFD. I can understand the discrepancy in pay when the show started, but not today in 2016. There’s absolutely NO excuse for it – her character is critical to the show’s success and she deserves equal pay.
I’m a daily lurker here and never comment, but for some reason I can’t let this stand. t’s ABSOLUTELY infuriating. Hasn’t created anything of note?!!! Bleak House? The Fall? She’s at LEAST equal to Duchovney in body of work, critical success and fame. I get it, you weren’t a fan and that’s fine, but don’t dismiss what other fans and women are saying about this. It’s a BFD. I can understand the discrepancy in pay when the show started, but not today in 2016. There’s absolutely NO excuse for it – her character is critical to the show’s success and she deserves equal pay.
According to reports, Harrison Ford got more for appearing in The Force Awakens than Carrie Fisher or any of the newer cast members. Not because he’s a man, but because he’s obviously the bigger star with a much longer resume of Hollywood hits. Also, it seems likely that Ford had to be convinced to reprise his role given that he had tried to convince George Lucas to kill off the Solo character in Return of the Jedi.
Mark Hammill got nearly as much as Ford for the same movie even though — Spoiler Alert — he spends dramatically less time on screen than any other character in the movie. In part, this seems to have been to persuade Hammill to agree to commit to much bigger appearances in one or both of the movies in the rest of the new trilogy.
This isn’t sexism, it’s contract negotiation.
That being said, the core of The X-Files was always the Mulder-Scully relationship so the salary disparity is somewhat unusual. Especially since I’m not sure that Duchovny is really that much of a bigger star than Anderson at this point. Again, though, the disparity may reflect the price of persuading Duchovny to return to a character he left behind several seasons before the show actually left the air.
I’m on the fence here.
I’m all for equal pay. Our firm pays everyone the same regardless of gender.
But he’s coming off Californication. And her? I don’t think I’ve seen her since X-Files ended.
And at the end of the day if she’s not getting the money…maybe it’s her agents fault.
On the other hand it seems to be a big problem in that industry.
And redheads should always be paid double.
Perhaps it’s worthwhile to look at the body of work.
Here’s Anderson’s IMDb listing
And, here’s Duchovny’s.
As C. Clavin notes, Duchnovy has a post-XFiles career that includes seven years on Californication, not to mention a fairly long pre-XFiles career. Anderson’s post-XFiles roles seem to be limited largely to guest spots and miniseries.
Even though they play a “couple” on television, that doesn’t mean they’re equal.
Anderson has been out there. She starred in the excellent BBC TV series The Fall , which I can recommend ( it’s on Netflix) and in Bleak House, which I haven’t seen. So she has been doing good stuff. David has done Californifation, which I wasn’t crazy about, and a couple of forgettable movies. So far as I know, nobody has been beating down his door with offers to do anything, so I see no need to offer him a big wad of cash to draw him away from competing projects. The salay disparity looks unjustifiable to me. Even more unjustifiable, though , is the whole project of trying to resurrect the X files. What’s the point? Money, I guess, but I doubt that there is that much to be had.
If I had to guess, a factor in the pay discrepancy (if it isn’t initial negotiated amount versus final salary, and if it is based on merit) is Anderson’s more acclaimed television work since X-Files has largely been restricted to British audiences. The two series Andrea mentions are BBC productions, and American audiences could only have been exposed to one of them (The Fall, which is fairly good) through Netflix. Lacking that sort of exposure could have harmed her bottom line.
So she was made an offer for a job which she found acceptable only to find out later that she could have asked for more. How is this anyone’s fault but her and her agent?
@Andrea: @Tillman: @Stonetools: I literally haven’t heard of any of the productions Anderson has been in since “X-Files.” They may actually be a bigger deal and “Californication” less of a deal than is my perception. But I do think of Duchovny as remaining a big star and Anderson as “that woman who used to be in X-Files.”
I must admit I streamed one episode of the original X-Files and found it lacking and didn’t go back for more. I have never watched any of Duchovny’s performances in mindless American TV series and movies. I have seen Andersan’s performances in the BBC period drama Bleak House and others and her acting was beyond superb.
The problem I suspect is that most Americans could not sit through Bleak House. Serious drama is not their thing.
@Ron Beasley: There have been all manner of superbly-acted American dramas, especially in the last 10-15 years. We just have very few mass audience shows these days.
Regardless, we don’t pay stars based on acting chops but rather ability to draw paying customers.
I know something about this business. Hollywood is still one of THE most sexist enterprises in existence. But usually it’s the actor who’s perceived to be the biggest box office draw who gets the most money, regardless of gender. Julia Roberts, at one point, was the highest-paid screen star in the world.
Whether a given actor is suitable for a particular role is not really an issue for the people who make those decisions.
You beat me to my point.
The best actor in the X-files was John Neville, IMHO….
If you’re a fan of Neville, get hold of a DVD of The First Churchills, in which he co-starred with Susan Hampshire. It’s over 40 years old, but it holds up beautifully.
@James Joyner: Perhaps you can enlighten me, can you give me some examples of serious drama on US TV. If it wasn’t for my ability to stream BBC shows I probably wouldn’t even own a TV.
@Ron Beasley: “Perhaps you can enlighten me, can you give me some examples of serious drama on US TV.”
Oh, for God’s sake:
Sons of Anarchy
Games of Thrones
The Good Wife
Halt and Catch Fire
Masters of Sex
and on and on and on and on.
Surely even if you can’t be bothered to turn on your TV, you must have noticed one of the six trillion articles on the subject published everywhere in the last decade…
@Ron Beasley: What @WR said. I haven’t watched all those shows and have tried to get into a couple others. But we’re in the golden age of television serial dramas, precisely because we no longer have to appeal to everybody with every show,. I’d add “The Wire” to the list.
My friends at Google tell me that Duchovny was paid $200k per episode for Californication. He’s also currently on another show on NBC, so he’s probably making decent coin from that.
I’m willing to guess that Anderson made perhaps half or two-thirds of that per episode of The Fall, and that had fewer episodes per season as is often the case with programs made outside the US. The pay in Hollywood is quite a bit higher than it is elsewhere (which is one reason why aspiring foreign actors work on their American accents and try to make it in the US.)
On the whole, it would probably take more money to secure Duchovny’s services. His job alternatives are on the US; hers are mostly in the UK.
That is because Ford is one of the biggest stars of all time and is the star of the movie in question.
That is a terrible comparison.
And actually, I do think that this was clear evidence of Hollywood sexism.
While it may have been the case in the early 1990s that Duchovny was paid more than Anderson, but it really doesn’t make sense now, because to make the X-Files work you need both Mulder and Scully.
And if one looks at their IMDB pages I am not sure the case can be made that either is a bigger start than the other at the moment.
@Steven L. Taylor: To take the Ford v. new characters argument further: there is no one who could play Han Solo in that movie except Ford, but prior to the movie being made a large number of actors could have played Rey.
Likewise, in this case, there is no one but Anderson who can play Scully. No Andersen, no X-Files (likewise Duchovny). As such, what is the logic that one is worth half as much as the other?
@Steven L. Taylor:
Unless it was the case that the producers found that it cost more money to persuade Duchovny to return to play Fox Mulder while Gillian Anderson was more willing to agree to return. Or, as someone suggests above, perhaps Duchovny’s agent did a better job for his or her client.
Except for ensemble shows like Friends or The Big Bang Theory, it’s my understanding that it’s rare for actors to negotiate as a group and it seems that the salary negotiations for Duchovny and Anderson were conducted separately, so it isn’t necessarily surprising that there might be a salary difference. Moreover, I don’t think the producers are under any obligation to pay the two of them the same salary unless that was how the deal was being negotiated.
And the point about The Force Awakens isn’t that Ford was paid more than the new cast members, that’s something that would have been obvious. But he also was paid vastly more than Carrie Fisher or Mark Hammill. According to Variety, his take was somewhere close to $25 million while the other two were somewhere in the low seven figures. Obviously, this is due to both his being a bigger star and, possibly, the fact that they may have needed to pay a premium to get him to return to a character that he wanted to see killed off three decades ago.
Again, this is meant as an example to point out the fact that there are any number of factors that go into deciding these issues that can’t just be ascribed to the gender of the actors.
@Ron Beasley: @WR: @James Joyner:
I have to agree: we are clearly in a Golden Age of Television, especially when it comes to drama. Although it is also true that, for the most part, these shows are not on broadcast television, but are on cable outlets. The only network drama that qualifies is “The Good Wife”.(which is on WR’s list also).
Other shows to add to that list: “Fargo” and “Better Call Saul”.
Yes, there is sexism in hollywood. No doubt. Anderson should have worked something out with Duchovny, though, for them to get paid equally. Easy call to make, the Mulder-Scully dynamic is why people are going to watch this series. Missing either one and it tanks.
The “Friends” cast figured it out early, and negotiated as a unit. They all got paid the same.
Sexism in Hollywood, exhibit A: You’re right, James, when Moonlighting came out, Shepherd got paid much more than Willis. It was “her” show. But when Willis became the breakout actor, the studio OFFERED him more money (I think more than Cybil, memory fades). Every female breakout actress I can remember on a show (Farrah on Charlie’s Angels, Suzanne Somers on Three’s Company, etc,) has not only had to demand more money during their contract negotiations, but they were vilified and (in both cases here) ultimately replaced.
@Doug Mataconis: I just find the Star War example to be utterly off the mark as a comparison if the argument is comparing Ford to anyone else, male or female because of a) the centrality of the need for the character for the story, b) the nature of Ford’s celebrity, and c) the very, very different careers of Hamill and Fischer.
Here we have a case of two characters of equal significance to the franchise in question (arguably Anderson is more important because she stayed on the show longer than Duchovny, if we want to split hairs) and who have not radically different careers (certainly not of the Ford v. Fischer variety).
Given an ongoing series of reports about male/female pay in Hollywood (and the fact that the producers did have to end up paying more for Anderson) rather leads credence to the notion that the producers simply thought the female lead was worth less than the male lead (in a show in which both characters are equally important).
The problem here is that if we assume that all negotiations are based solely in rational calculations of cost and are not influenced by sexism, racism, etc., we discount real social forces that need focus. There is a need to ask to what degree are allegedly dispassionate “business” decisions actually influenced by other factors. And if the marketplace thinks that women are worth less than men even if they generate the same amount of revenue, then this is something we should consider.
There are, without a doubt, times when a female should be paid less than a male (and vice versa) but it is a real question as to whether the seemingly ingrained price structures in Hollywood aren’t influenced by factors outside of actual market calculations.
@Steven L. Taylor:
His alternatives are probably more lucrative than hers. If he’s making a couple of million per year to be in a series while she’s making a fraction of that (lower pay per episode + fewer episodes per season + longer gaps between seasons), then they need to offer him more in order to get him to sign on.
And I wouldn’t assume that neither of them is replaceable. Many shows are made with leads
who have no star power, and cast members can be replaced when necessary in a variety of ways.
The production of X-Files is a long tale of trying to keep Duchovny happy. They even moved production from Canada to Los Angeles a couple seasons in because he didn’t want to travel. He left the show at one point, giving the impression that no amount of money would lure him back. (Robert Patrick was hired as a kind of Mulder stand-in.)
One almost understands why they offered him more money. He’s a fickle “star” type who usually doesn’t want to do anything unless he’s the lead (and don’t challenge him too much). Anderson, on the other hand, has established herself as more of a “professional” actor, sometimes the lead, sometimes not, up for any challenge. You can hire her to play any part, whereas with Duchovny, you only hire him when you need Duchovny.
So the disparate offers are almost understandable, from a totally non-sexist business angle. Duchnovy would have to be lured, whereas Anderson could just be hired.
What’s nice is that Anderson, whose “no” would kill the project, was able to negotiate towards a better position. I presume that this was as difficult as her saying “I should make as much as David,” and Fox saying, “Sure, no problem.”
Not much to be infuriated about, really. It’s actually reassuring. You don’t have to be a dick. You can just be a pro.
Anderson has lived and worked in England for years now so she doesn’t travel in Hollywood circles. So she negotiated hard by playing the equal pay card. Good for her.
Add Orphan Black and Battlestar Galactica to the good drama list.
How about this: the fact that she got her pay up rather underscores my underlying argument that she is as vital to the production as her male counterpart.
So, the question becomes, why did they offer her so much less to start with? It is plausible to me that there was some significant level of sexism involved based on other reports about male/female pay differentials in Hollywood for parts of relatively equal significance to a production and from actors of similar stature.
Is it possible that sexism was not an element here? Sure, it is possible, but I find it plausible enough that it is probable that it was part of the mix.
Like WR, this is something I know about. I know alot about it.
Gillian Anderson has every right to get equal pay for any “X-Files”. Without her, there isn’t an “X-Files”. Without her, it’s a Sci-Fi show starring David Duchovny. That’s a very different show.
Orange is the New Black
American Horror Story
True Detective (Season 1 only)
There has never been this much good television being produced. Ever. In fact, there’s too much to keep up with. It’s my business, and I can’t keep up with the amount of GOOD TV.
I lurk here daily and never post – so you don’t really “know” me, whereas I feel like I “know” many of you, as much as anyone can based on Internet comments anyway. What I’m sensing here is that many of you may not have been regular fans of the show. It ran 9 seasons and for my generation (I’m 43) it was extremely popular in the dorky crowd. Like many of my friends, I’ve watched the series through many times on Netflix. I understand the arguments that people are making diminishing the perceived role of sexism in the offer – and I don’t think they are without merit generally – but in this specific case, the thought that they would offer Anderson HALF of what they offered Ducovney is gobsmacking. Especially given the history of salary inequality on the show, which was somewhat in the media at the time it was happening. I like Ducovney and think he a fine actor, but there’s no way in heck this show works without Anderson (and vice versa). It’s just ludicrous and I think the vast majority of X-Files fans would agree.
@Steven L. Taylor:
You have two candidates for a job. Candidate A makes or can make 1x per year doing something else. Candidate B makes or can make about 0.5x doing something else.
Would you offer them the same deal in the first round? Probably not. The difference isn’t determined by your project, but what options that A and B realistically have if they reject your project.
An example: Band of Brothers was a mostly American production that was filmed almost entirely in the UK. Many of the cast members were Brits playing Americans, and the show had very little star power attached to the cast.
The Americans on the show were reportedly paid more than the Brits because the American were being paid based upon typical American levels of pay while the Brits were being compensated at levels more in line with local work. In essence, Spielberg and Hanks engaged in wage arbitrage and took advantage of the overseas location and the cheaper foreign labor.
@Steven L. Taylor: “Is it possible that sexism was not an element here?”
Business affairs looked at a show with two equal leads and decided to offer the woman half the money. I have a hard time not seeing sexism in there. Because despite some protests above, Duchovny is not exactly Harrison Ford playing Han Solo here. (I do love the idea that he was an established star prior to the X-Files because he was the host of a little-seen software anthology on Showtime back before the premium cable networks had thought of making shows with something to offer besides tits…)
But while I think the sexism is baked in, never underestimate the simple awfulness of network business affairs departments. I worked on a show once with a movie star doing his first TV show — and the show was all about him. Halfway through the first season the network brought in a second star to perk things up… and not only paid him more, but gave him a bigger trailer so that every could watch the original star being humiliated on a daily basis.
Of course, after a couple of miserable weeks the network made them equals, but by then the damage was done and the two hated each other for the run of the series.
Had Fox been smart — or decent — they would have offered a “favored nations” agreement to both Duchovny and Anderson.
@WR: To be clear: I am trying to be fair and note what may be possible. Note that I did not find it plausible or probable. I think this is almost certainly a case driven by sexism in no small measure.
And again: I find the Ford comparison absurd, to be honest.
Of course, the bottom line is that they had to up to offer to B to get what they needed. The question is: is it plausible to assume that the gender of B is part of why they offered B less to being with.
That B was ultimately worth more to the production than the initial offer helps further my argument.
Plus, this was not just some project, it was a project built around two co-equally important characters.
@Stonetools: I agree with that. “X Files” had fairly mined that type of genre and material. Now it is “apocalyptic” type of books and entertainment. There is not a whole lot of interest right now in UFO’s and the Hangar 18/Area 51/government complex.
@Steven L. Taylor: Sorry if I sounded contrary — I agree with just about everything you’ve said here and found your messages a blessed relief from all the ‘hey, it’s a free market, so that’s all good” postings above…
@Steven L. Taylor:
Again, I wouldn’t presume that a show won’t be produced just because one actor opts to drop out. Writers can craft alternative plot lines or back stories to cope with their absence.
If the backers think that the work can still be lucrative, then they’ll figure out a way to do it without the star. One of the Bourne films was made without Matt Damon because he wouldn’t work with the director — rather than punting on the project, they wrote a script that made reference to him without the need to cast him. Two and a Half Men was produced for several seasons following the loss of its lead and maintained good ratings thereafter. It doesn’t always work, but it can be done.
The important actor can be recast or the story can be changed so that it works with another character. There are many ways to deal with these things in the script.
@Andrea: @Steven L. Taylor: I agree that, ultimately, the network had to have both stars to do the sequel. My argument is simply that Duchovny is the bigger star and had more negotiating power. The network presumably persuaded him first because he was going to be the harder “get.” But that redounded to Anderson’s benefit, since she could play the “Well, I should make as much as my co-star” card.
As a generic observation, of course.
For a project like this, however? No, that would scuttle the whole appeal of doing it in the first place.
Heck, by this argument, do it with only Anderson if the market truly dictates she is cheaper. Or do it with even cheaper new actors. In other words, it is pretty obvious that to make this exact thing work you need both.
@James Joyner: Sure, but I think that the problem is that the following is not necessarily true:
Granted, it is difficult to gauge these things, but I am not sure that Duchovny is a) that much bigger of a star, or that b) his value to the project was half than of Anderson’s.
And now, remove all shows with either graphic violence or gratuitous nudity.
@Steven L. Taylor:
The problem with the argument that the show could have been done with only Anderson, thus saving the money that was spent on Duchovny by getting a presumably cheaper replacement male lead is that the show noticeably declined in quality and in the ratings after Duchovny left. If this temporary return was going to work, they ha to get Duchovny first and he presumably knew that. That, combined with the fact that they’d had long experience with Duchovny being difficult to keep happy back in the 90s as someone mentioned above, likely explains the “bonus” they were willing to pay him.
In this respect, it would be interesting to know how much the two were paid for the two — largely forgettable — X-Files movies.
@PJ: How graphic and how gratuitous?
Not to defend either graphic violence of gratuitous nudity, if we are talking human drama it is likely to include sex and violence.
Could you make some of these show with less? Absolutely. But that doesn’t change their overall quality.
@Doug Mataconis: But, of course, the ultimate fact is that they made the show with both and had to pay the woman more than they wanted. So, I guess the market called them on their sexism, yes?
What everyone defending the producers is missing is that they did have to pay Anderson after all, which does indicate that the original offer was the wrong offer.
The question is, therefore: why did the producers offer less than the market ultimately demanded? (If we want to talk market forces). Why is hard to admit the possibility, especially in face of evidence from other cases, that the producers thought her price was lower because she was a woman and not all of these other arguments?
Why is the assumption that the initial offer was dictated by the market instead of something else?
One could allow that maybe sexism leads producers to offer less than appropriate value to females and only recently have women started calling them on that fact because social conditions have evolved to the point to empower women to point this situation out.
@Pch101: In this case, however, the Mulder / Scully relationship is the central relationship of the show, and this is a reboot of beloved franchise that has a core fanbase that expects to see that relationship brought back to life.
If only one of the two comes back, the thing is destined to flop like Heroes Reborn before they even start production.
@Steven L. Taylor:
A savvy negotiator begins by focusing on the opposing side’s weaknesses, rather than ones own. So the position will be based upon the other guy (or gal) having something to lose by rejecting the deal. The pricing is based upon the pain that the other side feels by saying now.
It sounds as if Anderson was able to turn that back on them, effectively saying “You need me and you will look bad when the public finds out that you lost me over a difference in pay.” Instead of focusing on her own disadvantages (her job prospects outside of this project were not as lucrative as her costar’s), she focused on theirs and prevailed. So her side was savvy, too.
In any case, it isn’t quite fair to compare the final offer made to one actor with the first offer that was made to her. For all you know, they lowballed him, too.
@WR: I largely agree with this. I don’t think sexism is the only cause, but it certainly played a significant role. I’ve been thinking all day about why this relatively minor incident set me off so much. I work in a male-dominated field, but for the most part it’s felt like much of that nonsense is behind us. If we’re doing the same job, for the same company at the same level of expertise, we surely deserve equal pay, right? Then you read about something like this and it’s, like, what in the ever living hell?!!! You give nine years of your life and create an iconic character and you’re only worth half of the man next to you doing the same damn job?! And people think it’s OK?!! So yeah, it’s infuriating – because I thought things were better than this. To me this case in particular is so obviously skewed – I thought we were beyond this kind of thing not only being unjustifiable, but that it even has to explained! Its a reminder that maybe we have farther to go than I thought.
Just my opinion. YMMV
@Steven L. Taylor:
Just making a observation about US dramas vs UK dramas.
Sure, violence and nudity may some times be required to tell a story, that’s why I added graphic and gratuitous.
Remove shows containing that and we’re left with a couple of shows on basic cable and a couple of network tv shows, and I wouldn’t consider most of the network tv shows to be in the same league as the basic cable shows or good UK dramas for that matter.
I saw a few episodes and didn’t care for it, so I am personally indifferent to the story. (For that matter, I don’t know Duchovny’s work at all, while I was quite impressed by Gillian Anderson in The Fall.)
But in any case, a motivated producer will find a way. Did you imagine a Bourne film without Matt Damon before the fact, when the franchise is obviously oriented around his character and there was nothing that even remotely resembled an ensemble cast that could be used to carry it?
There was enough money in it to find a way to make it happen, so they did. It’s a business, the franchise has a brand, and writers can be creative if they have to.
@Pch101: Respectfully, I think you are underestimating the rabidly of geek fandoms.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Enough that my wife could never possibly watch any episode of any of these shows all the way through?
Seriously — it’s not necessary. I realize that younger viewers are now inured to this, having never known anything else, but the word ‘gratuitous’ is used advisedly.
It’s perfectly possible to put on a production of Othello with neither graphic violence nor explicit sex (nor even nudity). You really want to claim Othello doesn’t have much to say about human drama?
This is the best example of Hollywood sexism between actors and actresses that I have ever seen. A lot of them are flawed. This one isn’t.
On the one hand, I fully understand the concern. On the other, it is a subjective, fluid debate.
An easy one is Game of Throne, where there is zero doubt less nudity could be deployed without changing much of anything.
But the question of too much nudity or violence is a different one from whether the general quality of the programs in question are high or not.
@DrDaveT: Also, part of why I ask is less to defend specific levels of either sex or violence, but rather to honestly say I don’t know how one decides what the exact level is enough and how is too much?
Um, yes, I did, because they’re basically Bond films and there’s already a long tradition of replacing the lead in such actions films with a new actor.
My thoughts are that, deservedly or not, Duchovny’s star power is significantly greater than Anderson’s, and that anyone who can’t find quality in US episodic television in the 21st century is not looking very hard. It’s a bright spot on our rather bleak cultural landscape.
On any other project, maybe. But The X-Files is a 50-50% proposition in that much of the dynamic of the show is propelled by the interplay of the two characters. You absolutely need both actors or you have no show. Each has the independent ability to destroy the project by saying no, and each therefore has the ability to demand parity.
@Rafer Janders: and, to go just a little further, many people within the overall geek culture are actively proud of the fact that women actors and characters are largely treated with a parity and respect not seen in popular culture more broadly. Characters (and their actresses) like Agent Scully, Ripley, Buffy, Major Kira, Janeway and Xena have their own fan bases separate from their shows and nature and degree of their representation within canon media is closely scrutinized.
@Steven L. Taylor: Mostly my perception is that Duchovny has done other things with which I’m familiar and Anderson hasn’t.
@PJ: Of course when I was spewing out my list I only forgot my three favorite shows of recent times – Sens8, Jessica Jones and The Walking Dead… not to mention True Detective.
“And now, remove all shows with either graphic violence or gratuitous nudity.”
But… why? And why would you claim that nudity is gratuitous? One of the prime pleasure art has always afforded us is to gaze at the perfect forms of people more beautiful than any we would ever see in real life…
@DrDaveT: “Seriously — it’s not necessary.”
It’s art. “Necessary” is a word that makes no sense in this context. Is the sitar “necessary” in “With You Without You”? Did the ending of “The Wild Bunch” have to be so bloody? Do we really need to see that naked chick in “Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe”?
Your wife doesn’t like it, I’m sorry. But with all due respect, your wife is not the sole yardstick by which art should be measured.
@DrDaveT: “It’s perfectly possible to put on a production of Othello with neither graphic violence nor explicit sex (nor even nudity). You really want to claim Othello doesn’t have much to say about human drama?”
Sure. And while we’re at it, we can present those lovely Victorian versions in which Othello figures out the truth just in time and reunites with Desdemona. Really, isn’t Hamlet just as good if Ophelia’s death is an accidental drowning, as Mr. Bowdler had it, so we can all avoid the unpleasant topic of suicide?
@James Joyner: “Mostly my perception is that Duchovny has done other things with which I’m familiar and Anderson hasn’t.”
I’ve never seen Peyton Manning play football, but I’d think twice before using that as a justification for writing that he deserved to be paid less than his brother.
Hey now! I did some pretty good gazing in my time 🙂
I’ve been trying to come up with an example that people would understand if they weren’t a fan of the show and the best I can think of is Kirk / Spock. Granted, this is another geek show with a rabid fan base (I already confessed I am a total dork – these are MY shows so it means something to me). What would Star Trek be without either character? Would it have been insulting if Leonard Nimoy were offered half the salary of William Shatner were they to reprise their roles? It’s not a perfect example – Anderson has been much more successful post X-Files than Nimoy – but how replaceable in that role was he? If you can answer “yes, it would have been OK and the show would have worked without one of them”, then, while I respectfully disagree with that opinion, I have no beef with your assessment of this current situation.
For what its worth, It’s my understanding that Nimoy and Shatner had favored nations clause for the movies – they received the same salary. Interestingly enough, Nimoy seems to have been beloved by his co-stars for, among other things, fighting for pay parity. He went to bat for Nichelle Nichols and saw that her compensation was adjusted fairly.
How do you figure? Nimoy went on to another successful network series, was in several successful motion picture Treks decades after the original series went off the air, and he was an iconic figure on the American cultural landscape & respected and loved around the world for the rest of his life. Anderson has done some nice work, but made very few waves.
But Bourne wasn’t played by another actor, the Bourne character just became part of the back story for a sequel. And they managed to make quite a bit of money from it even though Matt Damon’s character was just part of the back story for an otherwise different story that involved other protagonists.
The most committed of the fans may find this notion of working around someone’s absence to be utterly impossible, but it happens often enough. Script writers cope with such things: Change the story, find a way to replace the character. For example, perhaps one could kill off the character via a grand conspiracy, and use that as a story arc for the new series.
If Anderson was unwilling to participate or dead and the producers thought that they had the makings for a good sequel, then you can bet that they would find a way to do it. This just happened with the Swedish/Danish “The Bridge” — the lead actor became disgruntled and bailed out, so the story was revised to deal with his absence, even though the show had been built around his relationship with the female lead. The solution was to introduce a new male lead and change the story to suit a different kind of character to fill that lead role.
You can never discount sexism but Duchovny and Fox Mulder were far more central to the show, especially at its peak, than Anderson and Scully. It makes sense that signing him to the project would be priority #1.
And The X-Files was one of the best TV shows of its day.
Well, if that’s the case, Carrie Fisher should’ve told them all to f*** off.
Maybe because I am European, but I’ve seen more Anderson than Duchovny, so I thought she was going strong and he was going downhill 🙂
Interesting interview with Anderson in the Guardian about her return:
Sir, if you really had to look up actors John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff,
then you need to hire someone else to do the articles on entertainment subjects. Though not big stars they are well known actors with lots of roles and experience under their respective belts. Perhaps you need to spend a little more time learning to use Internet Movie Data Base as well as being a bit less arrogant in your comments.
While I’ve grown used to James’ columns declaring that a social issue is, in fact, no big deal, I’m surprised to see this article and the ensuing thread proceed as if there’s not an active conversation on pay disparity in Hollywood as we speak.
The Post article is particularly interesting, since it uses the hacked Sony emails of 2014 to show a systematic attempt by Sony brass to pay women less.
Obviously, there is nothing to see here.
@WR: yeah, but there’s not a lot of limey accents in there- that’s the sign of a good show to some people……
off topic but i always get queasy watching something set in ancient greek/roman times and the actors feel they should sound british…..wtf?
on topic- the x-files is mulder vs. the gov’t., scully is the watson to his holmes. the show kinda sucked when mulder was gone and we got doggett…..and scully with her perpetual pondering.
plus, she’s really done little since then, not much of a draw there.
@bill: “off topic but i always get queasy watching something set in ancient greek/roman times and the actors feel they should sound british…..wtf?”
Funny… to me, it’s just the opposite. And English accent can pass for any historical period or language, but American sounds contemporary and out of place…
I’ve agreed with pretty much everything else you’ve said in this thread and very little that bill says ever, but no. Apparently that is the prevailing Hollywood opinion, but it is jarring to hear every ancient or alien culture sounding British.
But The West Wing helps to support his point about pay disparities between actors, the factors that lead to them, and the ability of writers and producers to adapt when cast members are fired or quit.
When the show began, Lowe was cast as the lead and was one of the best paid actors on the show (about $70k per episode). Martin Sheen was initially paid the most (about $100k per episode) — given his film career, that was hardly surprising — but the other major cast members made far less than Lowe.
But the show evolved into more of an ensemble effort, while Sheen went on to play a greater role than was initially anticipated. As their importance grew, Lowe’s co-stars (Janney, Schiff, Spencer, Whitford) eventually did some collective bargaining to get their pay increased from about $30k per episode to what Lowe was earning — they banded together and threatened to leave if all of them weren’t paid more — while Sheen was able in his own negotiations to bump his pay up to $300k per episode.
Lowe was left out of the cold on the pay increase gravy train. When he tried to get a pay bump, he was refused. Instead of accommodating his demands, Lowe was written out of the script and replaced.
It would seem that Lowe left the show over money and ego. As the story evolved, the lead character was no longer the lead and became expendable. (There was a subsequent decline in ratings, but I doubt that Lowe’s exit had much if anything to do with it.)
It would seem that the OTB front liners partly based their view on ignorance of Ms. Anderson’s work in British TV post X Files. Maybe they should have educated themselves before offering an opinion. Just saying’.
In addition, Duchovny at 55 was in the prime of his career, while Andersen at 47 was more or less washed up. No sexism there.
@Grewgills: you guys should get a room already!
Why is it you feel the need to place commenters here in your fantasies?
I guess it’s my fault for having a vaguely phallic avatar. You really can’t help yourself can you?
Now I’m feeling a bit guilty for running your mom out of tissues and lotion.
I looked them up in IMDB. My point is simply that, while they’re terrific actors, they’re not household names in the way that Sheen and Lowe are. But, yes, their names had escaped me.
@Rick Almeida: I acknowledge Hollywood sexism in the post. I merely argue that every single instance of gender pay disparity isn’t necessarily an example of it.
@stonetools: I looked up both Duchovny and Anderson in IMDB. The difference is that I’d heard of the stuff the former did and not the stuff the latter did. Additionally, it appeared that he had been the lead in shows whereas she was playing character parts.
Regardless, I’m not presenting myself as some sort of expert on Hollywood here. I’m offering an argument and inviting conversation.
@EddieInCA: My list:
Hawaii 5-0 (older version)
Marvels Agents of Shield
She’s not as funny. She’s not as interesting. She always plays the same monotone emotionless character.
She is a worse actor than Duchovny in basically every way. She wouldn’t be on TV at all except this little show struck gold with nerds back in the 90’s. Nobody thought this was going to be a big hit. She was a little nobody landing a nothing gig, and she never improved as a performer in her subsequent career.
Like most feminist-fueled arguments the underlying cause of this phenomenon isn’t really about gender, it’s about another case of incompetence where the incompetent person is, in fact, a woman. It’s bound to happen, say…. half of the time, but since it fits into the current masturbatory feminist trend of “gender oppression it’ll get coverage.
She is simply not the star of this show, too bad feminists. She doesn’t deserve equal pay because she’s not an equal talent.