When Hollywood Stars Play Victim Card

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:Taraji P. Henson takes part in SiriusXM's Town Hall With The Cast Of 'The Color Purple' Hosted By Gayle King at SiriusXM Studios on December 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Read the room, Hollywood.

The Biden economy is crushing many Americans, from soaring inflation rates to fast-food dinners that cost an arm and a leg. And try buying a house these days. We dare you.

Meanwhile, some familiar Hollywood faces are crying poverty. Really.

Taraji P. Henson is leading the charge. The versatile actress, known for her work in “The Color Purple,” “Hidden Figures,” and TV’s “Empire,” is using her awards season microphone to complain about Hollywood mistreatment.

“The math,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, “ain’t mathing.” And she might just quit acting rather than endure the allegedly low wages. She says just because she works constantly doesn’t mean she’s adequately compensated. Plus, she has a “team” behind her who need to get paid as well.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:Taraji P. Henson takes part in SiriusXM's Town Hall With The Cast Of 'The Color Purple' Hosted By Gayle King at SiriusXM Studios on December 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

How many people who see her films and TV shows have a team of their own?

“Listen, I’ve been doing this for two decades and sometimes I get tired of fighting because I know what I do is bigger than me. I know that the legacy I leave will affect somebody coming up behind me. My prayer is that I don’t want these Black girls to have the same fights that me and Viola [Davis], Octavia [Spencer], we out here thugging it out,” Henson says. “Otherwise, why am I doing this? For my own vanity? There’s no blessing in that. I’ve tried twice to walk away [from the business]. But I can’t, because if I do, how does that help the ones coming up behind me?”

Henson framed the issue in racial terms despite Hollywood’s pronounced progressivism.

One of her complaints? She earned just $150,000 for a supporting turn in 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” That’s more money than many Americans make in a year, of course, something that was true then and remains so today.

Her supporting turn in the film, which earned her an Oscar nomination, likely took a few weeks to complete. Not a bad gig if you can grab it.

Her career was just starting, too, and co-stars like the well-compensated Brad Pitt brought sizable star power to the film.

The most curious part of the starlet’s diatribe? She complains how big a bite the government takes out of her Hollywood paychecks. Here’s betting she has never publicly stumped for lower taxes and/or a Republican candidate.

It’s reminiscent of Oscar nominee Michelle Williams’ public spat over her pay, ironically enough, for “All the Money in the World” five years ago. She offered to essentially work for free doing the reshoots required when Christopher Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey following the latter’s sexual abuse allegations. Co-star Mark Wahlberg’s agent drove a hard bargain and netted $1.5 million for the client.

US actress Michelle Williams arrives for the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California on January 15, 2023. (Photo by Michael TRAN / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

Williams later turned the disparity into a feminist talking point.

“This came as no surprise to me, it simply reinforced my life-learned belief that equality is not an inalienable right and that women would always be working just as hard for less money while shouldering more responsibility in their homes. … I’ve been accredited by my industry at the highest levels and that still didn’t translate to equal and fair compensation.”

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence similarly whined about her Hollywood pay last year. She, too, played the Feminist Card in the process.

“It doesn’t matter how much I do. I’m still not going to get paid as much as that guy, because of my vagina?” 

Poor, impoverished Lawrence netted $25 million for her work in this year’s “No Hard Feelings,” a ribald comedy that earned $50 million at the U.S. box office, roughly the film’s production budget ($45 million).

And, given the film’s $36 million international haul, it likely will end up losing money for the studio. So says the Left-leaning ScreenRant.com, citing marketing costs and other accounting realities.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Jennifer Lawrence attends Sony Pictures' "No Hard Feelings" premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on June 20, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Not to be outdone, director Sofia Coppola also suggested to the BBC that being a woman means she has less cash to work with on her films.

“I just see all these men getting hundreds of millions of dollars and then I’m fighting for a tiny fraction of that. I think it’s just left over from the way the culture of that business is.”

Maybe because her track record suggests she’s not worth a grandiose budget? Her 2017 film “The Beguiled” earned just $10.7 million stateside. The 2013 drama “The Bling Ring” netted $5.8 million. The 2010 flop “Somewhere” earned $1.7 million. “On the Rocks” went straight to Apple TV+ in 2020 after a brief theatrical release (less than $1 million from total global sales).

Plus, while “Priscilla” delivers a solid look at the Elvis/Priscilla romance the movie has made $20 million to date (just over its production budget) and its box office window is all but shut at this point.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: Sofia Coppola, wearing CHANEL, speaks onstage during MoMA's The Contenders 2023 Screening of "Priscilla", Film At MoMA is made possible by CHANEL at Museum of Modern Art on December 18, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Rising star Sydney Sweeney tried to walk back her “woe is me” comments last year on her fiscal profile. The “Euphoria” and “White Lotus” star said she has to work-work-work otherwise the bills won’t get paid.

It’s one reason she’s not ready for a break due to the high cost of L.A. living.

“If I wanted to take a six-month break, I don’t have income to cover that…I don’t have someone supporting me, I don’t have anyone I can turn to, to pay my bills or call for help.”

The media blew up the quotes and she circled back to claim she was taken out of context.

Maybe some stars can read the room after all.

* * *

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Already have an account?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  When Hollywood Stars Play Victim Card