Nearly two decades ago, Spider-Man was the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. But the paycheck for one of its leading ladies didn't quite soar to such heights.
In a new interview with The Independent, Kirsten Dunst—the actress who starred as the Mary Jane Watson to Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man in the 2002 movie and its 2004 and 2007 installments—got candid about her compensation for the role and just how much it differed from Maguire's.
"The pay disparity between me and Spider-Man was very extreme," she told the newspaper. "I didn't even think about it. I was just like, 'Oh yeah, Tobey [Maguire] is playing Spider-Man.'"
By the sequel, she knew she was as much of as selling point as the title character. "But you know who was on the cover of the second Spider-Man poster?" she asked. "Spider-Man and ME." Dunst didn't elaborate further on her pay. E! News has reached out to Maguire's rep, as well as the studios and production companies involved for comment and has not heard back.
This is not the first time an actress has addressed the issue of pay disparity, particularly in contrast to a male co-star. "In my career so far, I've needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them," Emma Stone told Out in 2017. "And that's something they do for me because they feel it's what's right and fair. That's something that's also not discussed, necessarily—that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, 'That's what's fair.' If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life."
Michelle Wiliams and Mark Wahlberg famously became part of the conversation in 2018 when it was reported that he was paid an additional $1.5 million beyond his original salary to reshoot scenes for All the Money in the World, in accordance with his negotiated fee, while Williams was given less than $1,000. Meanwhile, they were both represented by the same agency and Williams was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film.
"Over the last few days my reshoot fee for All the Money in the World has become an important topic of conversation," Wahlberg later said in a statement obtained by E! News. He simultaneously announced he would be contributing to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which is aimed at supporting and helping those who have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation at work seek justice.
"I 100% support the fight for fair pay," Wahlberg said, "and I'm donating the $1.5M to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams' name."