Updated 4/30: Claire Foy will reportedly receive around $275,000 in back pay (opens in new tab) for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II to make up for the wage disparity between her and her co-star Matt Smith. The show's production company, Left Bank Pictures, previously issued an apology (opens in new tab) a week after initial news broke about the gender wage gap:
"We want to apologize to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the center of a media storm this week through no fault of their own,” Left Bank Pictures said in a statement (opens in new tab). “Claire and Matt are incredibly gifted actors who, along with the wider cast on The Crown have worked tirelessly to bring our characters to life with compassion and integrity.
As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.
We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a re-balancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes.
We all have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate. As company policy we are engaged in conversations with ERA 50:50 and going forward are keen to talk to Time’s Up UK; organizations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”
Foy and Smith won't be returning next season (opens in new tab).
Original story 3/13: 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) will not be paid less than her future co-star.
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 (opens in new tab)—which makes it feel all the more egregious that Foy got the short shrift here. Per a Variety (opens in new tab) report from last year, Foy earned an estimated $40,000 per episode.
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.
Emma Dibdin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles who writes about culture, mental health, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and can find the queer subtext in literally anything.
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