Writer Aaron Sorkin is seen with his academy award for "The Social Network" following the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27, 2011, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Photo by Chris Pizzello/AP

Aaron Sorkin: Male actors have a higher ‘difficulty’ bar


That was predictable

Days after penning a scathing New York Times op-ed, in which Aaron Sorkin condemned the media for exploiting revealed information from the Sony cyberattack, the screenwriter himself is in the spotlight for a leaked email sprinkled with hints of sexism. 

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In a March email, uncovered by The Daily Beast, Sorkin explains what he finds to be a big issue for women in Hollywood. The Oscar-winning screenwriter, who’s faced heat for sexism portrayed in “The Social Network,” “The Newsroom” and even ”The West Wing” – and who once infamously said “I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five” – cemented his reputation further by saying that male actors face a higher “degree of difficulty” than their female counterparts. Sorkin wrote to Times columnist Maureen Dowd in response to a piece she wrote on the niche for women in movies, depicting Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress Oscar speech for her role “Blue Jasmine.”

While Sorkin said that Blanchett gave a “terrific performance,” he notes that it didn’t even come close to what actors like Daniel Day-Lewis achieved in his Oscar-winning role as Abraham Lincoln, or any other lead performance by a male actor, for that matter. 

“That’s why year in and year out, the guy who wins the Oscar for Best Actor has a much higher bar to clear than the woman who wins Best Actress,” Sorkin wrote. “Cate gave a terrific performance in ‘Blue Jasmine’ but nothing close to the degree of difficulty for any of the five Best Actor nominees. Daniel Day-Lewis had to give the performance he gave in ‘Lincoln’ to win – Jennifer Lawrence won for ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ in which she did what a professional actress is supposed to be able to do. Colin Firth/Natalie Portman. Phil Hoffman had to transform himself into Truman Capote while Julia Roberts won for being brassy in ‘Erin Brockovich,’” part of the email read.

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Sorkin said that part of the problem is that complex roles for women and scripts with a dominating female cast are harder to come by. 

Some could argue he’s in part to blame. Sorkin in the past has been widely criticized for how his female characters are portrayed: often hysterical, in need of fixing, or simply as sex symbols. 

He failed to mention that part, though.