Movies

'It was incredibly wrong'

US actress Ashley Judd's 'casting couch' revelation underlines women's second-class role in Hollywood

US actress Ashley Judd has revealed that "one of the industry's most famous, admired" bosses, whom she declined to name, had lured her to his hotel suite in the late 1990s.

She is one of a growing number of Hollywood actresses who are bemoaning pay disparity with their male counterparts, as well as the despised "casting couch" - where film executives sometimes make sexual advances before deciding who gets a coveted movie role.

Judd said that after it became clear that she would not return the boss's sexual advances, he asked if she would watch him shower.

The 47-year-old actress said in the latest issue of Variety: "It took years before I could retrospectively evaluate that incident, and realise there was something incredibly wrong and illegal about it."

Her story comes at a time when women in Hollywood are standing up for their rights, demanding better treatment and fair pay.

The issue of pay disparity grabbed headlines last year after a leak of stolen e-mails from Sony Pictures Entertainment showed that Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence was paid less that her male co-stars in the hit movie American Hustle.

Patricia Arquette also railed against the industry's gender-based wage gap during her acceptance speech after winning an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards.

Some of Hollywood's most prolific female stars, such as Meryl Streep, Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow, have also chimed in.

"Look, nobody is worth the money that Robert Downey Jr. is worth," Paltrow told Variety, speaking about her co-star in the movie Iron Man. "But if I told you the disparity, you would probably be surprised."

According to Forbes magazine's 2015 list of best-paid actors, Downey topped the list for the third year in a row, earning a whopping US$80 million (S$111m).

That is nearly US$30 million more than Lawrence, the best-paid actress, who earned US$52 million.

Ms Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of Women in Film, an advocacy group, told AFP: "There are a lot more women in the last six months speaking out publicly against sexism. But there is a lot of room for growth."

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