Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have each been Hollywood’s highest paid film actress (Witherspoon in 2009, Kidman in 2006). Now, thanks to their deals for Big Little Lies 2, they’ll be amongst the highest paid actresses in television history as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the co-stars will each earn a cool $1 million an episode for the sequel series. That’s a significant bump from the reported range of $250,000 to $350,000 the pair made per episode during season one. Keep in mind, that’s just for their acting duties, and does not include the money the pair makes as producers.
The show’s other leading ladies will also see significant pay bumps, though the details weren’t as clear. Zöe Kravitz, specifically, will get a reported $3 million for the entire season, a raise of almost 800 percent of what she was previously paid.
The news comes amongst a movement to openly talk about the wage gap in Hollywood, a debate frequently highlighted by women at the Golden Globes. It also comes on the day when news broke that Ellen Pompeo signed a two-year extension on her Grey’s Anatomy contract that will pay her $575,000 per episode, the highest of any actress on a network drama.
The news also makes a whole lot of common sense. Big Little Lies was a huge hit for HBO both in terms of viewership and awards, and may very well be the network’s most talked about female-fronted show in years, if not since the end of Sex and the City. It was originally only planned as a limited series, so the renewal left a lot of room for both Kidman and Witherspoon to negotiate at a time when they suddenly see their careers at their highest peaks since their individual reigns as Hollywood’s highest paid actress. Of course they should ask for a big raise!
Though, the deal was also struck amidst development of Witherspoon’s other upcoming TV show. Remember the one she’s making for Apple TV with Jennifer Aniston about morning TV shows? Yeah. Both Witherspoon and Aniston will be making a whopping $1.25 million per episode for that one. “That payday directly impacted the recently announced second season of HBO’s smash hit Big Little Lies, sources say,” reports the Reporter.
For Aniston, that’s pretty much standard fair for her television work. Towards the end of the run of Friends, Aniston and her co-stars all made $1 million per episode. Still, such paydays aren’t common. Indeed, Witherspoon and Aniston will jointly break the record for television’s highest paid per episode actresses that had been held jointly for years by Anniston, Lisa Kudrow, and Courtney Cox alongside Mad About You‘s Helen Hunt and, more recently, The Big Bang Theory‘s Kelly Cuoco. At least officially. Sarah Jessica Parker reportedly earned millions of dollars per episode of Sex and the City, but details of her deal, including how much she was paid as an actress and how much of that was for her gig of co-producer, were never clarified in the press.
For the most part, though, it’s mainly been men who broke the seven figure per episode barrier on TV. James Gandolfini earned $1 million an episode towards the end of The Sopranos, while former sitcom stars Tim Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Charlie Sheen and Ray Romano also earned more than $1 million as well.
So, kudos to women finally making big money on television. But in case you’re wondering, no, there’s been no negotiations for a possible Big Little Lies 3.