Liam Neeson thinks women should be paid equally, but he won’t take a pay cut

The Commuter NY Premiere

For some reason, I actually sat through that terrible Liam Neeson film Non-Stop. It’s the one where he’s on a plane and people are manipulating him with phones and sh-t and he has to save the day. Liam has had a late-in-life career resurgence with these kinds of dumb, interchangeable action films, like the Taken movies, or Run All Night, and his current film, The Commuter. The Commuter looks like Non-Stop on a train. That’s it. Like they took the exact f–king script from Non-Stop and said “okay, but what if he was on a train?”

If you wonder why a 65-year-old man with a questionable toupee keeps taking all of these dumb roles, the answer is MONEY. Ever since Taken was a surprise and runaway hit, Liam can easily pocket eight-figure salaries for these relatively inexpensive action movies. Even if they don’t do crazy box office in America, they can be (and are) sold heavily overseas. It’s all part of complicated math that goes into how the Hollywood sausage is made, and why someone like Liam is seen as an actor whose films can be “sold” overseas, where Denzel Washington’s films cannot (insert eyeroll). But it also means that Liam has grown accustomed to his eight-figure paychecks and he won’t be giving them up any time soon, not even if for pay equality. From an interview he did with the Associated Press to promote The Commuter:

Re: pay inequality: “There’s a lot of discussion about it and a lot of healthy and necessary discussion about it, because the pay disparity is, sometimes, f–king disgraceful…” When asked what can be done, he says, “It’s starting… it’s starting with these extraordinary actresses and brave ladies and we, as men, have gotta be part of it. We started it, so we have to be part of the solution.” When asked if he would “take a pay cut to even things out” he says, “NO! Pay cut? No, no, no, no, no. That’s going too far. There has to be parity. There just has to be.” I mean, I can’t even tell if he’s half-joking when he says “No, that’s going to far.” Is he joking? Or only half-joking, because of course he’s not going to take a f–king paycut. He’s all for the ladies getting paid more, of course, but not if it means he will only get paid $8 million instead of $10 million.

(Left unspoken: how many 65-year-old actresses get a late-in-life career surge by playing action heroines? Exactly. It’s not like this is even a career choice for women. PATRIARCHY.)

The Commuter NY Premiere

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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39 Responses to “Liam Neeson thinks women should be paid equally, but he won’t take a pay cut”

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  1. Hh says:

    One, I hope it was sarcasm. Two, given the amount studio heads earn, asking actors to take a pay cut isn’t necessarily the solution. It’s like when companies threaten that if wages increase they’d have to close down offices or increase the price of the product (passing the cost off to customers) when instead the problem is the exorbitant sums paid to chief executives. Finding money in the budget seems to come from everywhere except the top.

    • Des says:

      Exactly! I don’t want him to get a pay cut. I want women to get paid on par.

      • chai35 says:

        Co-sign! The answer is not pay cuts for men. Women should be paid just as much men are.

      • K (now K2!) says:

        Agreed. The answer is for them to find more money for the talent, not to shuffle the pack. Actors only get paid these amounts if they can draw an audience, so they’ve been underpaying women, not overpaying the men.

        Agreed that we live in a world where they can sell Neeson and Harrison Ford as action heroes, when it would never cross their mind to cast Jodie Foster, or Glenn Close. Yet I’d totally believe in them in powerful roles, later in life. It’s depressing that they just won’t have the imagination to try it.

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      Completely agree! And it would actually set a bad precedent if the solution for the pay disparity would be to take away from the male actors while the actual bosses – the producers and heads of studios, would still get most of the money. It doesn’t matter that he could easily afford to cut his paycheck – it’s about setting the example.

      It would be easier to agree with him, of course, if he was some factory worker, who would be asked to cut his already too small paycheck for his female colleague to earn more, while their boss would earn 7 figures, but I think the wage gap is a much bigger issue than just HW, so it would be healthier to just think about it in the context of employees vs. employers and blame the latter.

  2. Arie says:

    I think it’s possible he was joking, but it’s kind of hard to tell.

  3. Bridget says:

    Laura Dern’s mom, the lovely Diane Ladd, recently talked about how Laura did an indie movie not that long ago and her pay was ridiculous in comparison to her lead actor counterpart. Because what happens is, they cast the man first, and they pay the actress whatever is leftover. So Liam – you’re being paid those 8 figure salaries out of the money that could be paying your actress counterparts (theoretically… his movies have been one man shows). You’re only worried about pay disparities unless it affects your bottom line.

  4. Zeddy says:

    And why should he have to take a pay cut? Am I really supposed to believe that the money needed to pay her couldn’t come from literally anywhere else? Bull.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      Agreed. The argument is that women should be paid more not that men should be paid less. If the male actors take a pay cut then the only people benefitting from that are the suits not the female actors.

  5. Whoopsy Daisy says:

    Denzel’s films can’t be sold? Really? I mean, I know why, but I’m from a small European country, so not the target, but here Denzel is a bigger draw than Liam. Is Denzel really viewed as someone whose films can’t be sold overseas?

    • Kaiser says:

      It’s a reference to what studio executives believe about Denzel’s films, as revealed in the Sony Hack.

      • Whoopsy Daisy says:

        I didn’t know that. Wow.

      • Cranberry says:

        Unfortunately despite the progress over the last five decades, imo there’s still a good deal of cultural, subconscious racism even among the “educated”, modern, European middle classes. This includes most western, traditional countries like Mexico, South America, and even Asian countries. Even if many admire Denzel (because he’s American), those countries’ significant black populations are usually low income and don’t account for much of the overseas profits. In countries, like Europe or UK where blacks earn more, they are still only a small portion of the population.

        Hollywood only cares about the numbers and knows that the rest of the traditional world overseas is still ‘relatively’ racist when in comes to who they’re more likely to pay to see, Denzel or Liam. Denzel probably brings in a good amount of $ (depending on the film) from overseas, but Liam will always be depended on to sell because he’s white, and because he seems a little European which would also appeal to those that take comfort with familiarity – which is the bases of what we’re talking about. US pop culture is an exported commodity that has made significant impression on the rest of the world, but that will only account for so much. It can’t change everything. Overseas markets are going to be determined by the make up of their populations and traditions as well.

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      Same here, in Poland. If I asked my parents who Denzel Washington is, they’d know and they’d want to watch a movie with him. If I asked about Liam Neeson, they would have no idea unless I mentioned he was the guy from Schindler’s list. Will Smith, Eddie Murphy or Samuel L. Jackson are also big names here. The silly comedy with Ice Cube – Are we there yet? is one of the most frequently played movies on tv here, because it draws lots of viewers. It’s a movie about a black family, so Hollywood execs would say that we racists Europeans wouldn’t connect to black leads but it’s just bs.

  6. littlemissnaughty says:

    Why is this a discussion? Why is it even a thing? We want to get paid AS MUCH as men, not share like it’s kindergarten. Why does it have to be framed as taking something away from men? I’m not convinced ANY of these “stars” are worth these crazy numbers these days. With streaming services and the appalling quality of a lot of movies released in theaters, I’m sure people these days go for stories over stars. There’s not one actors who can sell a movie to me based on their name.

    • Onemoretime says:

      I agree why should he take a pay cut! Studios are making money hand over fist, they can give actress more money without cutting someone else’s salary. We didn’t think it was right for Papa Johns to cut workers hours because greed and being a fair employer! The fault lies solely on the studio, if there’s not enough money to go around then don’t make the movie!

    • Bridget says:

      Because men are usually cast and able to negotiate their salaries first, and are therefore able to negotiate MORE. Leaving their actress counterparts to negotiate what’s left over. You can’t talk about “everyone should get equal” when they’re not starting from an equal place. That’s how budgets work – you have X amount of dollars to make a movie. If a man is getting $15-$20 million for his salary alone, that’s a ton of extra money to simply add to the budget. Look at what happened to The Hunstman – Charlize GOT her pay raise (there was NO WAY a Hemsworth should have ever been paid for her) but the movie was so freaking expensive based on payroll alone. Which, I put that blame entirely on whomever let Hemsworth get crazy money.

      • KatC says:

        That’s an issue with how they’re budgeting, the solution is to change the way that they’re budgeting. It’s very likely that they can afford to pay women much more, without taking very much, if anything away from male actors. The scarcity argument in pay equality is absolute bs perpetrated by the CEOs to protect their own massive salaries and golden parachutes.

  7. Lucy says:

    I mean, I love him and everything, but bitch pls.

  8. JA says:

    No, we shouldn’t ask men to take a pay cut to increase the women’s pay because that in itself would once again pit us against each other. How bout equal pay? The studios can afford to pay actresses just as much as their male counterparts so why don’t they?? The same argument when ppl said Jason Kennedy should have quit to help his co-host. We need to hold the powers that be responsible for the pay disparity. Making Liam look greedy AF isn’t the answer, making the studios look like sexist aholes is!

    • SoulSPA says:

      ITA. Studios making more profit at the expense of women and making movies in cheaper locations. Shameless!

    • lucy2 says:

      Agreed – they are paying women less for the same work because they can, because they’ve gotten away with it for so long, because women have always been told to be grateful and not rock the boat.

    • Cranberry says:

      Yeah, it’s not like if studio execs were replaced any paying viewer would care! The idea that a male actor is paid because of his star power and that same premise doesn’t also apply to the actresses in the same film is bs. Most all these actress that are in Liams films are established actresses like Julianna Moore or Michelle Dockery. If those roles were played by unknown actress, the movies would have been different and would not have drawn in many female viewers. But no one even knows or cares who the execs of those movies were.

  9. SoulSPA says:

    I liked Non-stop. Jouls Moore was awesome there too. I still think that the biggest actors make way too much money for working a few months on a movie. In the eight figures. Don’t tell me they don’t keep all that money but the gross numbers are outrageous and disgusting. WTF I know it’s business but it’s still disgusting. Greedy ars*holes.

  10. Milla says:

    I don’t care what he has to say. We want equality. Men can support us or shut up. No other comments necessary.

  11. savu says:

    I mean, I think his point is that they should be offering actresses and actors equal pay in the first place, and that actresses’ salaries should rise to his. Idk. If that’s what he meant, I’m on board – I’ve been in situations where you’re given the excuse “well that’s all we’ve budgeted for salaries, so we can’t pay you equally to _____.” And that’s fucked up! THEN MAKE THE BUDGET BIGGER. Because it’s that important.

  12. manta says:

    He could totally be serious.
    For which actress would he have to agree to a pay cut? I haven’t seen the films you listed, but from your description, it doesn’t seem there’s any speaking female part exceeding 15 minutes screen time.
    To even contemplate the idea of a paycut for a female costar, he’d have to actually pick a project where a role is actually written for one.
    Note: I base my comment on titles listed in the post, he may have done other recent projects apart from those by the number action movies.

  13. smee says:

    Nor should he.
    The equal pay should be part of the budget.
    Right now, someone is enjoying an additional “bonus” that should be going to the non-male cast members.
    He could demand fair pay for all next time he gets hired…….

  14. Jesscar says:

    I agree with the other comments in this thread – he shouldn’t take a pay cut, women should be paid equally. However, in the same vein, should we stop criticising Wahlberg about the difference in pay and contract to Michelle (for this specific discussion about money, not him generally), and blame the studios/those negotiating instead?

  15. Louise177 says:

    I think it’s unfair to expect men to take a pay cut. If Liam’s rate is 10 million, it’s the studios’ responsibility to be fair. Besides if men took cuts, the studios still aren’t responsible. The actor is and the studio aren’t even losing money.

    • Bridget says:

      If somethings value is over inflated, when the market resets itself the value was going to go down. They’re not going to take a pay cut, the market is adjusting their value.

  16. Esmerelda says:

    To be honest, I would enjoy seeing, say, Meryl Streep as the action star of a taken-style movie… Or Isabella Rossellini.

  17. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch says:

    In movies like this it is really a disadvantage to talk or think this way! This points out how stupid film makers are to cast Neeson in the first place. I bet Angelina Jolie or Helen Mirren would do it for the same price, and then you get a free feminist pass. Or, if budget is a problem, I bet you could get Hilary Swank or Jennifer Garner for $5 million. Or Jessica Biel for $5 if you promise to put Timberlake on the soundtrack…

  18. Lyla says:

    And now he’s saying that the #metoo movement is a witch hunt. Boy bye. 👋🏼

    • Kelly says:

      Just read that. Also, Dustin Hoffman exposing an actresses breasts before a crowd, and fondling her breasts in a picture is “childhood stuff”, and also rambled about actors and their superstitions, and the need to repeat the same actions before each show. He’s revolting and I’m so disappointed.

  19. Hannah says:

    The money is there – it is going in to big men in suits pockets. The answer isn’t actors taking pay cuts at all.

  20. KatC says:

    I 100% agree with him. I’m passionate about equality, but if you frame it as taking things away from a privileged class, rather than increasing things given to an underprivileged class, you will never get anywhere. People have to be willing to put the pressure where it belongs, on the people doing the paying, not the ones being paid.

    It’s likely most actors and actresses will see their wages decrease/stagnate for the next decade or so anyway, simply to account for the changing movie market and the effect of streaming and international product availability. They made massive increases in the 90s and early 2000s, at this point, the only ones still seeing truly insane incomes are the CEOs. (note: I still think all big actors and actresses are making way too much, and I’d rather see people upset about raising the pay of lower class jobs and the minimum wage any day.)