Olivia de Havilland: 'I'm astounded Hollywood gender pay gap war is still going'

The star recalls her experience as the first female President of the Cannes Film Festival jury.

Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland can't believe actresses are still fighting to be paid as much as their male co-stars.

The Gone with the Wind actress, who turns 101 in July (17), has called attention to the groundswell movement for equal pay across genders, spearheaded by late peer Bette Davis' failed 1937 lawsuit against Warner Brothers Studios. Although Davis lost the case, de Havilland claims Bette's bid to end her contract with the movie studio bosses inspired a crusade in Hollywood around women's rights and equal pay.

In fact, Bette's failed legal bid was so influential, Havilland herself pursued a similar lawsuit against Warner Brothers Studios in 1943, and won.

"There was, indeed, a distinction in the status of actors and that of actresses: actors were paid more than actresses for equivalent work," Olivia recalls to Deadline. "Bette Davis was a ferocious defender of the status of actresses in all its aspects. I am astounded to learn that the battle continues at this late date."

Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Patricia Arquette are among the actresses who have emerged as figureheads of the modern equal pay movement in Hollywood, and Olivia has a soft spot for the stars.

De Havilland was the first female president of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 1965 and although she admits she felt extreme anxiety over taking on her trailblazing post, the experience proved to be more beneficial than she could have imagined.

"It is both exhilarating and intimidating to be the first at/of anything," she explains. "The responsibility is enormous and the possibility of failing to fulfill it adequately is huge.

"I was intimidated by my role as the first female President of the Cannes Film Festival jury. However, I must say that, as the only female on the jury that year, I did enjoy presiding over a committee entirely composed of men."

The 70th anniversary edition of the annual Cannes Film Festival kicked off in the French Riviera on Wednesday (17May17).

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