Claire Foy speaks over The Crown pay gap controversy

Foy and Smith in The Crown (Credit: Netflix)
Foy and Smith in The Crown (Credit: Netflix)

Claire Foy has spoken about being at the centre of a pay gap controversy on Netflix show The Crown.

It emerged that the British actress, who played the lead role of Queen Elizabeth II in the series, was earning less than Matt Smith, who played the Duke of Edinburgh.

“I’m surprised because I’m at the centre of it, and anything that I’m at the centre of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of [the] ordinary,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

“But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. 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 centre [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”

The pay disparity came to light during a TV conference earlier this month, after which series producer Suzanne Mackie said: “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen.”

(Credit: Netflix)
(Credit: Netflix)

Left Bank Pictures, which makes the series, later issued a statement, apologising for putting Foy and Smith ‘at the centre of a media storm’.

“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,” it read.

“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.

“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. So, we are now going to be in talks with the TimesUp UK campaign and ERA 50:50; organizations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”

25,000 people signed an online petition calling for Smith to donate part of his salary for the show to the Time’s Up movement.

Foy is to be replaced in series three and four of the show by Broadchurch star Olivia Colman, who will play the Queen as the story of the royal family continues.

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