The Big Bang Theory lead actors want reduced pay so their female co-stars get raises
The five leading cast members of the popular American sitcom The Big Bang Theory have apparently voluntarily asked for significantly large pay cuts, so that their co-stars Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik can be paid higher salaries.
Variety first reported that, according to multiple sources, the five original cast members are willing to take a cut of $1,00,000 for the upcoming 11th and 12th seasons. The salaries of the leads played by Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar and Kaley Cuoco were a whopping $1 million in 2014 – the same amount that the stars of Friends earned in the last season.
Galecki plays Leonard Hofstadter, Parsons plays Sheldon Cooper, Helberg plays Howard Wollowitz, Nayyar plays Rajesh Koothrapalli and Cuoco plays Penny. These actors have been part of the show since its inception in 2007.
Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who play Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wollowitz and Amy Farrah Fowler respectively, joined the cast in Season 3, and became a recurring part of the series in Season 4. They reportedly earn $2,00,000, which is merely 20% of their co-stars. They are apparently the only two cast members who are yet to sign contracts for the upcoming seasons.
The money saved due to these pay cuts, which is a sum of $5,00,000, will be split between Rauch and Bialik, raising their salaries to $4,50,000. This is a 225% raise.
What is worth noting is that is Bialik has earned three Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Amy, and Rauch too, has been nominated for a Critics Choice Awards.
The Big Bang Theory is an expensive show to make. In Season 10, the weekly costs of producing the show amounted to $9 million per episode. In 2016 itself, the show earned more than $1 billion in revenue.
This is not the first time that the leads of a show have asked for a lower pay so that their co-stars can be paid fairer salaries.
Friends started as an ensemble show, but in Season 2, when Rachel and Ross’ relationship was the highlight of the show, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer began to earn more. In Season 3, the cast renegotiated their contracts, and Aniston and Schwimmer’s salaries were cut down to equal those of their co-stars.
In Season 9, The Big Bang Theory averaged at 20 million viewers per episode. Earlier this year, in February, executive producer Bill Prady confirmed that there would be more seasons beyond Season 10.