'Winchester' interview: Helen Mirren says 'agents are responsible' for gender pay gap (exclusive)

Stefan Pape

Though a long-standing issue within the industry, never has the debate on wage disparity in cinema been so prominent – with several actresses, and actors speaking out about this inherent problem, hoping to finally reach equality within an inexcusable culture whereby men are being unfairly paid more than their female counterparts.

While we strive for justice, Helen Mirren – promoting her new film, the spooky ghost story Winchester, admits that changing this culture is by no means easy, and that agents should shoulder the blame for the disparity.

“I think the agents were very responsible for this,” Mirren tells Yahoo Movies.

“The agents should say ‘no, why should she get paid a third of what he’s being paid?’ But it just became an acceptable part of the culture.”

“It’s very hard to change a culture when it’s a culture,” she adds. “It’s really hard to change it.”

This image released by CBS Films shows Helen Mirren in a scene from “Winchester.” (Ben King/CBS Films via AP)

Mirren did admit that if her co-star has greater ‘status’ she is more forgiving, but is a firm believer that a fairer distribution of money is required in the industry.

“Obviously if I’m working with Bruce Willis I know for sure that Bruce Willis is going to be paid a lot more than I am,” she laughed. Mirren starred alongside the bald action hero in Red and Red 2.

“But that’s the way that particular cookie crumbles. But if you’re in a film where basically you have equal fame, or equal status and your roles are equal size, as is the amount of time each role will take to shoot, then everything else being equal you would hope and expect that you are being paid the same as your male counterpart, but that is often not the case”.

Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren arriving at the UK Premiere of Red 2, at the Empire Leicester Square cinema in London.

Mirren is promoting Winchester, an intelligent, terrifying thriller from Michael and Peter Spierig (behind the compelling sci-fi Predestination), where she plays Sarah Winchester, in a tale based on real events, depicting a doctor’s (Jason Clarke) brief visit to the supposedly haunted mansion owned by the aforementioned, eccentric firearm heiress – who believes her grandiose abode contains the souls of all of those killed by the company’s flagship rifle.

Winchester is released on 2 February. Watch a trailer below.

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