SO WHAT IF RICHARD GERE WAS PAID MORE THAN ME? WE'RE NOT EQUALS; Helen McCrory, the Star of the BBC's Big New Drama Series, Opens Up about Her Co-Star's Wow Factor, the Show's Controversial 'Pornographic' Sex Scenes and Why She Always Preferred 'Naughty Boys' by Cole Morton

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 24, 2019 | Go to article overview

SO WHAT IF RICHARD GERE WAS PAID MORE THAN ME? WE'RE NOT EQUALS; Helen McCrory, the Star of the BBC's Big New Drama Series, Opens Up about Her Co-Star's Wow Factor, the Show's Controversial 'Pornographic' Sex Scenes and Why She Always Preferred 'Naughty Boys' by Cole Morton


Byline: Cole Morton

She stars opposite a legendary Hollywood heart-throb in the ambitious new BBC drama MotherFather-S o n, b u t H el en McCrory was never going to swoon over Richard Gere. 'I was a naughty girl,' says the actress with a chuckle, explaining why she didn't fall for Gere's clean-cut charms like so many her age -- 14 -- when his first hit, An Officer And A Gentleman, came out in 1982.

'I was a Jimi Hendrix girl. I liked my rock 'n' roll. I liked the naughty boys -- Bob Dylan was going to wake me up in a harem in Morocco. So it wasn't that I didn't have a crush on him, I didn't see the films.' Even now, there are women of a certain age who would stammer and blush to find themselves in the same room as Gere, but McCrory is immune.

She even laughs openly at the plot of his biggest movie, Pretty Woman, in which Gere's suave businessman saves Julia Roberts from sex work. 'You're a prostitute, but then you have a bath? Whatever!' And McCrory can afford such teasing confidence because she is one of the UK's finest actresses, best known for playing Cherie Blair in The Queen and Auntie Polly in Peaky Blinders.

In fact, she was cast before Gere in MotherFatherSon as the female lead, Kathryn, the former wife of Gere's ruthless media baron -- and was surprised when she heard he would be her costar. 'I thought it was fascinating to choose as an alpha male someone who is naturally softly spoken and gentle in movement. Richard has a steeliness, but he also has a very soft quality about him, which is why he was the young girls' pin-up. The little girls don't fall in love with guys who look like they could strangle you. They like An Officer And A Gentleman!' Not her, though.

'I knew who he was, of course,' she says. 'But I had a crush on Adam And The Ants back then. It was all London, it was all street, it was all edgy, it was all the smell of carbon monoxide and marches and DMs.' sAwwoa sPbjAmbs'p I look down and notice that she's wearing them again today. Patent boots with a white-andblue dress and a black, feathery jacket thrown over her shoulders. An elfin crop frames a lively, mischievous face -- but that becomes bemused when I ask if she was paid the same as Gere.

Do you know how much he was paid? Are you about to tell me?' I'm surprised she doesn't know, given the uproar there's been in recent years about female stars not getting as much as their male counterparts at the BBC. All I can tell her is that there has been a single, unlikely, report of Gere getting PS5 million. 'Richard was given five million? No f****** way!' She laughs, not believing it at all.

She's learnt to take such rumours with a hefty pinch of salt. 'According to my mum -- she looked up my estimated wealth -- I'm worth 78 million, thank you!' She's clearly suggesting that's nonsense, although the household can't be doing badly. Her husband Damian Lewis became a massive star in America after appearing in the mini-series Band Of Brothers, and is a Hollywood leading man himself, from the series Homeland and Billions.

What's fascinating though is that in the case of this new BBC drama, McCrory has no idea what her fellow lead actor did get. She jokes: 'There is an awkward pause as McCrory leaves the room to talk to the producer If it was that much, then I certainly wasn't on favoured nations pay!' That's a contract clause that says an actor has to be paid as much as the highest earner in the cast. McCrory knows about these things as a Hollywood veteran herself, having been in Skyfall, Hugo and the Harry Potter series, as Draco Malfoy's mother, Narcissa.

More recently McCrory led the ITV legal drama Fearless and has spoken out about pay equality: 'If you're doing the same job, indisputably you should have the same money.' Shouldn't that apply to Mother-FatherSon? 'This is a really complex issue. It depends. Say you're ki i d d t fil If making an independent film. you think you're going to get enough bums on seats by using Richard Gere's name, or it will help you raise the finance to make the film, is it then right or not to say: "I'm going to give him a million now because I know he's going to get me PS4 million in box office"? …

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SO WHAT IF RICHARD GERE WAS PAID MORE THAN ME? WE'RE NOT EQUALS; Helen McCrory, the Star of the BBC's Big New Drama Series, Opens Up about Her Co-Star's Wow Factor, the Show's Controversial 'Pornographic' Sex Scenes and Why She Always Preferred 'Naughty Boys' by Cole Morton
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