The Crown producers apologise to Claire Foy and Matt Smith over gender pay gap

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Susan Devaney
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Netflix has issued an apology to The Crown’s leading actors, Claire Foy and Matt Smith, after an online petition calling for Smith to make up the pay difference with his co-star was launched.

It’s been a week since Netflix producers admitted that Matt Smith was paid more than his former co-star Claire Foy in the successful TV series, The Crown.

Foy, who played the lead role as Queen Elizabeth, starred opposite Matt Smith, who portrayed her husband, Prince Philip. Even though The Crown is one of the most expensive television series ever produced, costing about $130 million (£93 million) for the first season alone, they still found reason to justify a pay disparity between its co-stars by claiming that Smith’s Doctor Who fame meant he commanded a bigger salary.

But fans of the show are proving they aren’t willing to let it lie having launched a Care2 petition, urging Smith and Netflix to donate the salary difference to the Time’s Up Legal Action fund.

“Women in all industries are facing a struggle for pay equality. Women in the US typically earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts for full time work,” writes Rebecca G, the creator of the petition.

“And the pay gap for women of colour is even more striking. Black women typically only make 63 cents for every dollar paid to their white male counterparts and Latino women only make 54 cents on average.

“While it may be easy for some to dismiss gender pay disparity for already high-paid actors like Claire Foy, I believe that [publicly addressing] high-profile cases of sexism will also help create greater opportunities for all women — in all careers.”

At the time of writing, the petition has 27,000 signatories, with a target of 30,000.

Matt Smith as Prince Philip in The Crown

With the petition continuing to pick up steam, the producers of The Crown have now issued an apology to both Smith and Foy over the pay disparity.

“We want to apologise to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own,” says a spokesperson for Left Bank Pictures. 

“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.”

Foy was reportedly paid $40,000 (£28,000) per episode for the first two series. Smith’s salary has not yet been disclosed.

From the BBC to the NHS, in recent months the sheer scale of the gender pay gap has started to be exposed across multiple industries.

A similar petition was created last year when it was revealed that Michelle Williams was paid a lot less for reshooting scenes in All The Money In The World compared to her co-star actor Mark Wahlberg. The petition was successful as Wahlberg donated his salary to the Time’s Up fund.

It’s of importance to note that these petitions are not just calling on the actors to make change happen, but for agents (who negotiate salaries), producers and CEOs to ensure women are paid an equal wage to their male counterpart.

Since its inception in January this year, the Time’s Up Legal Fund has raised more than $21 million (£15 million) and has taken on 1,000 cases, according to CNN.

You can read more on the gender pay gap here.

Images: Netflix