Whether it’s giving part of their own larger salary to a co-star or refusing to work on projects with significant gaps in pay, individual performers sometimes step in and attempt to balance Hollywood’s pernicious pay inequity one gig at a time. In a new interview for Empire’s October issue celebrating the late Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller recalls how the Black Panther star gave part of his 21 Bridges salary to her to make up the difference in her pay for the film. “I didn’t know whether or not to tell this story, and I haven’t yet. But I am going to tell it because I think it’s a testament to who he was,” says Miller. “This was a pretty big-budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to.
“And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school and it was an inconvenient time, I said, ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way.’ And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”
Boseman, himself a producer on the 2019 police action-drama, had personally sought out Miller for the role, in addition to eventually “donating” the difference between what the actress had asked for and what the studio was willing to pay.
“It was about the most astounding thing that I’ve experienced,” recalls Miller. “That kind of thing just doesn’t happen. He said, ‘You’re getting paid what you deserve and what you’re worth.’ It’s just unfathomable to imagine another man in that town behaving that graciously or respectfully. In the aftermath of this, I’ve told other male actor friends of mine that story and they all go very very quiet and go home and probably have to sit and think about things for a while. But there was no showiness. It was, ‘Of course I’ll get you to that number, because that’s what you should be paid.’”