The production company behind The Crown has been forced to apologize to its stars, Claire Foy and Matt Smith, after the two were dropped into the middle of a contentious pay equity argument that spread from behind closed doors across an ocean. The problem was created when a producer leaked that Foy was paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip, during the first two seasons of the hit show.
During an entertainment panel at the INTV conference in Jerusalem, producer Suzanne Mackie said Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II, received less money than Matt Smith for her time on the program. That news was not well-received, at the conference or in the public at large. Mackie tried to make it right, saying, “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.”
But it was far too late for promises… As happens these days, when this news hit, social media exploded. Foy and Smith were pulled into the conversation and some denouncing Smith, who likely had no idea about the pay discrepancy. Meanwhile, Foy wanted peace on the set, not to be a byword for a social movement on social media.
Producers, Left Bank Pictures, issued a public apology to the two stars after they were dragged unwittingly into the fray. “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.”
In subsequent media reports, Mackie tried to dig the show, and her stars, out of the hole she created, by saying the reason Smith made more initially is because he had a bigger brand, having been a part of the mega-hit Doctor Who cast before signing on to play Philip on The Crown. That seems reasonable, but given the hot button nature of the issue, fans and critics were not in the mood to be reasonable, and Mackie continued to hear about it online.
So, Left Bank continued to try to help, saying: “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…”
Regardless, there’s a petition going around demanding that Smith donate a portion of his salary to fund Time’s Up, the nonprofit calling for an end to discrimination against women and sexual harassment in the workplace. One key plank in their platform is equal pay. So far, tens of thousands of fans have signed the petition.