Left Bank Pictures, the producers of The Crown, have apologised to Matt Smith and Claire Foy after it was revealed Smith was paid more than Foy for his part in the Netflix show.
In a statement the company said “the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues”.
The statement was released after it emerged that Smith was paid more than Foy, even though he had a supporting role, and after a petition was started which called for Smith and Netflix to donate part of his salary from the show to Time’s Up legal fund. Left Bank Pictures added they are “keen to talk to Time’s Up UK” and are speaking with gender equality advocacy group ERA 50:50.
The petition, which was started on the Silicon Valley based petition site Care2, was introduced with the line: “You know gender pay gaps are a problem when even the Queen isn’t paid fairly.” It calls for Netflix and Smith to “make up for this sexist pay gap by donating the difference in their paycheques to the Time’s Up legal defence fund for sexual harassment and abuse victims.”
The calls came after The Crown’s producers, Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries, confirmed that Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth, was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, as the Duke of Edinburgh, during the first two seasons of the hit $100m Netflix show. “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” Mackie said.
“Women in all industries are facing a struggle for pay equality,” the organiser of the petition wrote. “Women in the US typically earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts for full-time work. 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 Latina women only make 54 cents on average.”
The organiser added that, while it may be easy to dismiss the case of high-paid actors such as Foy, who receives a reported $40,000 (£29,000) an episode, it’s important to “publicly addressing high-profile cases of sexism will also help create greater opportunities for all women – in all careers”.
Foy won a Golden Globe in 2017 for her portrayal of Britain’s longest-ruling monarch during the early years of her reign. Olivia Colman will take over in the lead when the series returns for its third season, which is in production now.
The petition is currently 5,000 signatures short of its 30,000 target, with its organisers calling it a “critical moment for Netflix and Crown co-star Matt Smith to show that they stand with women and do the right thing”.
The petition comes as a stories about gender pay gaps in the UK are raging. All companies with more than 250 employees must report their pay gap under new government legislation. As of late February, 1,290 companies had filed figures. Last week it was revealed that men were paid two and a half times more per hour than women on average at banking group HSBC – the largest gender pay disparity reported by a major company in the UK.