Fans of The Crown were disappointed to learn that Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth, was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, who portrays the more secondary part of Prince Philip. While neither actor commented on the controversy right away, Foy is now ready to speak her mind about the gender pay gap.
While chatting with Entertainment Weekly on Friday, the 33-year-old revealed that she was not surprised that the difference in salaries became a huge scandal, however, she was shocked to find herself in the middle of it. "I’m surprised because I’m at the center of it, and anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary,” she began.
“But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama," Foy added. "I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’ But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”
Last week, the producers of the Netflix series took responsibility and released a public apology.
“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,” Left Bank pictures said in a statement, according to Variety.
“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.” Their statement seems to affirm that neither Foy nor Smith were aware of the pay gap between them, and could have heard about it for the first time in the media this month. Thus, Foy should not be held responsible for not asking for more money, and Smith should not be shamed for accepting a higher salary than his co-star.
Left Bank said it stands behind gender pay equality, and added that it was interested in speaking with the British Time’s Up campaign. “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 rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes,” it said.
Speaking of Time’s Up, a petition began last week for Smith to donate the difference between his salary and Foy’s to the organization. The Care2 petition has already gathered over 25,000 signatures. Smith has yet to comment on the movement.