the crown pay gap

The Crown is worth its weight in gold. Except, perhaps, when it comes to its lead star.

The Crown may be Netflix’s most expensive TV production, but it seemed that some expense was spared when it came to star Claire Foy‘s paycheck. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the actress playing the young Queen Elizabeth II was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, a pay gap that inspired more outrage than usual. What hope do we have for pay equality when the Queen can’t cut a fair paycheck?

But now, the producers of the Netflix production have issued an apology for The Crown pay gap.

Producers Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie revealed last week that Foy’s salary for her two-season run was only $40,000 an episode, according to Variety. Each episode’s budget runs about $7 million — the highest production cost for a Netflix series, or any TV series outside of Game of Thrones.

This was particularly egregious because of Foy’s lead role in the show and The Crown‘s themes of female empowerment. While Smith plays Queen Elizabeth II’s consort Prince Phillip, Foy does most of the dramatic heavy lifting and became the breakout star after the show’s runaway success.

To be fair, Smith was a bigger star than Foy when the series first began. He was the titular star of Doctor Who for three seasons just as the sci-fi series had hit international fame, while Foy had starred in smaller shows like Little Dorrit and Wolf Hall. But as the show became a bigger success, Foy still wasn’t given a bigger paycheck.

In reaction to the outrage that arose from these revelations, the show’s producer, Left Bank Pictures, apologized for the pay disparity between Foy and Smith. “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 said.

See their full statement below:

“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. 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; organisations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”

With the show’s cast getting replaced for its third and fourth seasons and Foy and Smith leaving for new projects, Left Bank won’t be able to remedy this pay disparity. But hopefully new stars Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter will get their fair pay as the older versions of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, respectively.

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