Last week, one of our favourite period dramas, The Crown, was at the centre of a gender pay gap scandal when it was revealed that Claire Foy was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith. Despite playing the lead character of The Queen, Smith – who played Prince Phillip – took home the larger salary. There have been many reactions to the controversy, including a care2 petition, however now Foy herself has spoken out about the pay gap.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Claire described her reluctance at being the center of a story she ‘didn’t particularly ask for’. She said:
‘I’m surprised because I’m at the centre of it, and anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary,
However, given the current climate around gender pay gaps, she was less surprised that the story caused so much controversy. She continued:
‘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 center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.’
Reactions to the story were strong, with one viewer setting up a petition for Smith to donate the pay difference to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps women access legal assistance for cases of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. It has over 45,000 signatures, although Smith has not responded so far. However, producers have, stating:
‘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.’
Suzanne Mackie has also claimed that the pay difference will be rectified in future series, telling Variety ‘Going forward, no one gets paid more than The Queen,’.
However, Foy will not be involved in future seasons - which she's reportedly very happy about -, as the show is moving forward with an entire new cast for season three with Olivia Coleman playing The Queen.
Click through to see some more of the best period dramas you should be watching right now...
Netflix's deep-dive into the personal conflicts, political intrigues and public controversies of Queen Elizabeth II's reign is the streaming service's most expensive original drama to date. Luckily, every penny of The Crown's rumoured £100 million budget appears to have paid off. Claire Foy gives a brilliant, sympathetic performance as Elizabeth, nailing the plummy vowels and poise of the monarch without descending into caricature - but it's Vanessa Kirby's Princess Margaret (and her controversial romance with a divorcé) that will have you gripped.