Busted: Netflix Paid Claire Foy Less Than Male Costar for ‘The Crown’

You know the gender pay gap is real when even the Queen of England gets paid less than her prince consort. Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown

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You know the gender pay gap is real when even the Queen of England gets paid less than her prince consort. Producers from The Crown revealed Tuesday that they paid lead actor Claire Foy less for her Golden Globe-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II than her costar, Mark Smith. Smith played Prince Phillip in the popular Netflix show for the first two seasons.

During a television industry panel in Jerusalem, Left Bank production heads admitted that they paid Smith more than Foy. They cited his prior fame as the lead in the iconic BBC series, Doctor Who. Smith played the Twelfth Doctor from 2010 to 2013.

Prior to her lead role in The Crown, Foy played another English queen to much critical and viewer acclaim. In 2016, Foy picked up a BAFTA nomination, among others, for her portrayal of Anne Boleyn in the break-out hit television miniseries, Wolf Hall.

Claire Foy in Wolf Hall
Promotional Poster via IMDb.

How producers thought the Doctor Who alum would be a bigger draw than Foy for potential viewers of The Crown is unclear. Claire Foy is an accomplished actress known for her work in high-profile historical dramas like Wolf Hall and Little Dorrit. 

Wolf Hall swept a number of Golden Globes and BAFTA awards for its tense and subtle portrayal of the intrigues behind the court of King Henry VIII. Foy’s nuanced performance as the tragic Boleyn was sure to attract more fans to The Crown, a similar series focusing on the history of the English monarchy.

The snub is even more outrageous considering that Foy won a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for her first season in The Crown. Producers could have easily addressed the pay inequity at that point. Without Foy, there would have been no show at all.

Left Bank Creative Director Suzanne Mackie told press at the INTV Conference:

“Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.”

But that doesn’t help Foy, who certainly didn’t require Smith to provide credibility or inspire interest in a historical drama. In future episodes, as the timeline for The Crown moves from the 1950s and ’60s into the 1970s, lead actors Foy and Smith, along with others, will be replaced with more mature actors. Producers say the new cast aligns with the ages of the Queen and Prince Phillip during that decade.

Left Bank CEO Andy Harries told press at the INTV Conference that each episode cost about $7 million to produce. He added that Foy had 120 different costumes in the second season.

“We put that money on the screen.”

Reports are that The Crown has cost Netflix more money than any other show on contract. Foy received $40,000 per episode. The entire first season budget rang in at $130 million. Producers did not share Smith’s salary for his role, but it’s obvious that it was too much.

Livid fans are expressing their disgust and shaming Netflix on Twitter for the continuing inequity in pay.

Your face when you find out they paid the sidekick more than the lead.

The best solution of all comes from Twitter user @MamaBix:

“Sharpen your pencils & figure how much you owe Claire Foy, write her a check. Mail it to her.”

Featured Image: Promotional Poster via IMDb

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