Ocean’s 8 star Sandra Bullock has revealed she almost gave up her career in Hollywood after being subjected to sexist behaviour.
In an interview with USA Today, the actor said that when first starting her career she thought “there was no disparity, that everyone was equal, and I can do whatever a man can do.”
Explaining how she got to where she is today, the actress credited director Jan de Bont for giving her her breakout role in 1994’s Speed, “when I was the last person the studio wanted.
“My career has been a domino effect of people who said, ‘I would like this person to fill this role,’ “ Bullock says. “And not just in the industry, but people in my life. My mother raised me like, ‘You don’t need to get married, you forge your own path. You make your own money, and be your own person.’ And I literally went out into the world thinking there was no disparity, that everyone was equal, and I can do whatever a man can do.”
It wasn’t until later in her career that Bullock had a “wake-up moment, where I was like, ‘What is this feeling? Why do I feel so (expletive)?’ ” she continues. “ ‘Oh my God, I’m being treated this way because I have a vagina.’ ”
Bullock did not get into specifics about the sexist behaviour she was subjected to, though she said it’s had a lasting effect.
“It was hard for me, because I walked with blinders on through life and got to where I (felt) like I was less than because I was a woman,” she says. “And that was a hard pill to swallow. I had a lot of sadness from that. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I need to step out of here. Maybe I need to do something else for a living.’ And that was in the middle of when I was getting work — I didn’t want to be a part of that world where there was that experience.”
Since allegations of rape and sexual harassment against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein ignited the #MeToo movement last fall, dozens of actresses have come forward with their own stories of sexism and abuse in Hollywood. According to a USA Today survey of 843 women in the entertainment industry, 94% say they have experienced sexual harassment or assault.
Bullock’s Ocean’s co-star Cate Blanchett says she has similarly been made to question her worth in Hollywood, particularly when it comes to equal pay.
“I don’t think about my gender until those opportunities are not available to me or denied to me because of my gender,” Blanchett tells USA Today. But “we do live in a capitalist society, so it’s like your worth is valued in monetary terms. You know what the poster’s going to look like, and you’re not being paid the same as the person you’ve got equal billing and screen time with, and you think, ‘Actually, that’s not right.’ ”