Claire Foy played the queen but was paid less than the prince in 'The Crown'


Christmas has “become something else” for “The Crown” star Claire Foy since motherhood. (Dec. 13)

God save the Queen, indeed.

Claire Foy, who won or was nominated for multiple solo awards for her portrayal of a young Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, got paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, who played a secondary role as her husband Prince Philip and won an ensemble award.

This news comes via Jerusalem where producers of the British series, Andy Harries and creative director Suzanne Mackie of Left Bank, appeared Tuesday at a conference on innovative TV to talk about the much-praised Netflix drama after wrapping Season 2.

According to Variety, the producers were asked whether Foy, who was paid about $40,000 per episode, made as much as Smith. Uh … no.

They said he made more (they didn’t say how much) thanks to his Doctor Who fame: He was one of a dozen actors who have played the Doctor on the venerable British sci-fi series, for which he won multiple British nominations and awards.

But The Crown, it can’t be stressed enough, is about the queen, not the prince. She is the head of state, not he. She is the one who reigns as successor to 40 previous sovereigns, not he. She is the one who will hand her crown on to their eldest son, not he.

And Foy is the one who took home the awards: She won a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards for best actress, and was nominated for an Emmy and for BAFTA awards.

Never fear, the producers said, we are fixing that pay discrepancy in the future: “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen,” said Mackie.

Except that it won’t get fixed for Foy: She’s aged out of the series, at 33. So, for that matter, has Smith, 35, and almost the entire cast. For Season 3, the queen, Prince Philip and everyone else are older, requiring older actors. 

Olivia Colman, 44, will step in as the queen and Helena Bonham-Carter, 51, will play her sister, Princess Margaret. So far, no word yet on who will replace Smith. But whoever it is, Mackie’s promise suggests he won’t get paid more than Colman.

USA TODAY reached out to Foy’s agent and to Netflix but did not get an immediate response.

This situation may not be as egregious as the recent dustup over All the Money in the World, when Mark Wahlberg billed $1.5 million to reshoot some of his scenes and Michelle Williams, who had a bigger role, got paid about $80 a day.

But it illustrates the murky calculus and imbalance built into the Hollywood pay system, where male actors have long been seen as more reliably bankable at the box-office than female actors — and get paid accordingly.

Also complicating the picture is the astounding (for TV) overall cost of The Crown, which explores the queen’s long life (she turns 92 next month), her long marriage to Prince Philip (70 years and counting) and her long reign (66 years).  

The show has broken records as one of the most expensive series ever made, with each of 10 episodes per season costing about $7 million to make, Variety reported. Now it will get even more expensive when producers negotiate new deals with actors.

“We’re victims of our own success, but so is Netflix,” said Harries. Netflix is known for its deep pockets: It will spend up to $8 billion on developing and producing original television and films next year.

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