Maggie Gyllenhaal says she felt “brainwashed” into believing she didn’t deserve equal pay to James Franco

We’re always grateful to celebrities for speaking out about the gender pay gap. Even though we’ve got so far to go when it comes to ensuring that women—especially women of color and marginalized women—receive equal pay to their male counterparts, when famous people open up about their experiences, it helps to spotlight inequity and drive the conversation about gender pay parity. Hopefully, it will one day help to end the gender pay gap for good.

So that’s why we’re sad—but not at all surprised—to hear Maggie Gyllenhaal reveal that she felt “brainwashed” into believing she didn’t deserve to make the same amount of money as her The Deuce co-star James Franco.

During an interview with Sirius XM’s Insight host John Fugelsang, Gyllenhaal explained what happened when she found out she was getting a significant pay bump for her work in the HBO ’70s porn drama, E! News reports.

"I just, out of the blue, got a phone call saying that HBO was going to significantly raise my salary," she said. "And, I’m going to be totally honest here, the first feeling I had was I felt kind of guilty. I just had this windfall: ‘You know, wait, that’s not fair.’ But that’s where I’m brainwashed."

Gyllenhaal explained what she meant by that, adding, “That’s where I’m like, ‘I don’t deserve this’ and all this stuff. Like, ‘Well, he is way more bankable and so he is going to …’ and that I’ve been told my entire career. It took me maybe a day to go like, ‘No, no, no, this is payback for a long time. When have I ever been paid the same as my male costar?’”

She said, “It took me a while to kind of clear my head. Because I think I spent a lot of time justifying this confused logic.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Gyllenhaal also serves as a producer on the series, which is now in its third season.

She also addressed the sexual misconduct accusations against Franco. In January 2018, five women accused Franco of sexual misconduct. And while he did deny the claims in an interview with Stephen Colbert shortly after the women came forward, he’s largely kept a lower profile since then, shying away from interviews as he continues to work on the series.

Gyllenhaal said, “I think HBO in general has been so incredibly intelligent about the way they have dealt with the accusations against James, the very complicated nuanced politics of our show, the nudity, having an intimacy coordinator. All of it, I just think HBO has been incredible.”

Of course, it’s not Gyllenhaal’s job to speak for Franco or take responsibility for his actions, but we are relieved to see she’s finally getting the pay she deserves. We’re sure plenty of women across all industries have felt the same way about their own salaries, and we feel sad that Gyllenhaal felt the way she did. And we’re of course grateful that she’s using her platform to open up about these issues. Bravo, Maggie!