Maggie Gyllenhaal is opening up about why she felt “guilty” receiving a significant pay bump for her work on HBO’s The Deuce.
On Thursday, the actress spoke to Sirius XM Insight host John Fugelsang about her reaction when she learned she was earning equal pay as her costar James Franco on the HBO series, which Gyllenhaal also produces.
“Yeah, that was so interesting actually. I just, out of the blue, got a phone call saying that HBO was going to significantly raise my salary,” Gyllenhaal, 41, explained. “And, I’m going to be totally honest here, the first feeling I had was I felt kind of guilty. I just had this windfall: ‘You know, wait, that’s not fair.’ But that’s where I’m brainwashed.”
“That’s where I’m like, ‘I don’t deserve this’ and all this stuff,” the actress continued. “Like, ‘Well, he is way more bankable and so he is going to …’ and that I’ve been told my entire career. It took me maybe a day to go like, ‘No, no, no, this is payback for a long time. When have I ever been paid the same as my male costar?’ “
“It took me a while to kind of clear my head,” added Gyllenhaal. “Because I think I spent a lot of time justifying this confused logic.”
Gyllenhaal also applauded HBO for their handling of the explicit series, as well as the sexual misconduct allegations against Franco, 41.
“So, that was amazing and I think HBO in general has been so incredibly intelligent about the way they have dealt with the accusations against James, the very complicated nuanced politics of our show, the nudity, having an intimacy coordinator,” she said. “All of it, I just think HBO has been incredible.”
Reps for Franco and HBO did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The Deuce, which begins its third and final season next week, follows the beginning of the sex trade industry in New York City in the early 1970s. Gyllenhaal plays sex worker “Candy” Merrell, while Franco takes on two roles as twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino.
In October, Gyllenhaal broke her silence on the allegations made against Franco in an interview with Sway Calloway, host of SiriusXM show Sway in the Morning. Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five women both on and off movie sets in a Los Angeles Times article published in January 2018. He has denied the allegations.
“Do you talk to him about it? Do you ignore it? What do you, what do you do under those circumstances?” Calloway asked the actress.
“You know, we at the time that the accusations against James came out in the LA Times, we read them all, we took them very seriously,” she said. “We spoke to every woman on the crew and in the cast to find out if they felt respected and what their experience of working with James was and everyone said that they had been totally respected by him.”
“For me, I would say another thing that was really important was our show is about, like I said, it’s about misogyny,” Gyllenhaal said. “It’s about transactional sex. It’s about inequality in the entertainment business. You couldn’t be more at the center of that conversation than The Deuce.”
“To me, I thought, I want to keep telling this story, I want to keep playing Candy and going deep into, like, really what it’s like from a woman’s perspective to be dealing with all the stuff that is on everybody’s minds right now,” she continued.
“I feel like it would’ve been the wrong consequence to those accusations to shut our show down. It would’ve been like actually the opposite of the right thing to do,” Gyllenhaal added. “And yet, you know, look, I believe that there should be consequences for disrespecting or assaulting women. Of course, I do.”
After the allegations, Busy Philipps called Franco a “f— bully” in her memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, in which she alleged he pushed her to the ground on the set of Freaks and Geeks.
The next day, Philipps said Franco apologized to her after executive producer Judd Apatow made him watch a video of what happened.
She said Franco went on to apologize, claiming that he had a negative reaction to watching his character being treated poorly. According to Philipps, that was the extent of Franco’s punishment for the incident.
The final season of The Deuce premieres Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.