Before trilogy director Richard Linklater addresses Julie Delpy’s comments on pay disparity

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Filmmaker Richard Linklater has responded to actor Julie Delpy’s recent statement where she revealed that she was not paid at par with co-star Ethan Hawke for the first two films in the critically-acclaimed Before trilogy.

In a statement, obtained by IndieWire, the filmmaker acknowledged that “gender pay inequality” is an important issue plaguing society but asserted that his Before trilogy should not be taken as an example of this.

Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise. Image from Twitter

Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise. Image from Twitter

“First off, these films we’ve been so lucky to even get made fall squarely in the indie/low-budget/labour-of-love category. The first two were budgeted at 2.7 million, nobody was getting paid much at all,” he said.

The Before trilogy started with 1995’s Before Sunrise, featuring Delpy and Ethan Hawke as two strangers Celine and Jesse, who decide to spend some time with each other in the Austrian city of Vienna.

The movie was followed by sequels — Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013), which were equally lauded by the critics for the story and performances of the two leads.

Linklater admitted that Hawke was paid a “little more” than Delpy but justified his higher salary by saying that Hawke was already a Hollywood star in the 90s while Delpy “was just getting established in the US.”

“It’s likely the trilogy would not exist if Ethan didn’t choose to come to Vienna that summer and work for a fraction of what he could have been making on another project…,” he said.

“There were similar dynamics on the first two films as far as pay goes, but, because our artistic partnership had developed to such a degree, by the time we were making a third, a full 18 years after the first, it was obvious that everyone should be paid the same (again, we’re not talking much money), regardless of industry status. I don’t remember it even being an issue, it was just something we three agreed upon, with no conflict or theatrics,” he added.

Linklater maintained that Delpy was “never offered anything less”.

“How the industry compensates artists is always vulgar and not based on actual worth we all know that.

“Life isn’t fair, and neither is Hollywood, but it seems that while the most glaring examples of gender pay inequality exist in the more commercial undertakings, it’s up to everyone to do everything they can to demand transparency and this long-overdue equality at whatever level they find themselves,” he concluded his statement.

Delpy, in a video interview from Zurich Film Festival, had revealed that she insisted on equal pay for the third Before movie.

“On the Before’ movies, the first movie I think I was paid maybe a tenth of what Ethan was paid. The second movie I was paid half. The third movie I said, Listen guys, if I’m not paid the same, I won’t do it,” Delpy had said.

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