'The Crown' Paid Claire Foy Less for Playing Queen Elizabeth than Matt Smith for Prince Philip

This is infuriating.


Claire Foy was paid less than her than her male co-star for her starring role as Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix's The Crown.

During a panel about the series at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem, per Variety, the show's producers confirmed that Matt Smith, who played Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip in the show's first two seasons, was paid more than Foy. The pay disparity was apparently due to Smith's fame from his role in Doctor Who, but producer Suzanne Mackie added that the show planned to rectify this in the future. "Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” she said, implying that Season 3's newly-cast Olivia Colman will not be paid less than her future co-star.

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While there's no doubt that Smith was a bigger name than Foy when the show began, there's equally no doubt that Foy's role is both larger and more complex, seeing as she is the literal Queen. Since the show began to air in the fall of 2016, Foy has gone on to win a number of awards for her performance, including two Screen Actors Guild awards and a Golden Globe, as well as an Emmy nomination.

But because of the show's re-casting, which was announced after the show's first season, Foy will never have the opportunity to earn what she should have received from the start. It's common knowledge that Netflix sunk an extraordinary amount of money into The Crown—it's one of the most expensive shows ever, with a budget of $7 million per episode—which makes it feel all the more egregious that Foy got the short shrift here. Per a Variety report from last year, Foy earned an estimated $40,000 per episode.

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And there's a whole other layer here. As noted above, Smith was paid more because of his preexisting fame from playing The Doctor in Doctor Who—a role that has famously never been played by a woman until last year, when Jodie Whitaker was cast as the first-ever female Doctor. As is so often the case with the gender pay gap, we're not dealing with a level playing field.

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