Even Queen Elizabeth herself, the human embodiment of poise and restraint, would likely find herself angry to discover that the actress who plays her on Netflix’s The Crown earned less than her male counterpart during the first two seasons of the critically acclaimed period drama.
The revelation came during a panel discussion about the series at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, when The Crown producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries were asked whether series star Claire Foy was paid more than co-star Matt Smith, who played Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.
“The producers acknowledged that [Smith] did make more due to his Doctor Who fame, but that they would rectify that for the future,” Varietyreported. Mackie added, “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.”
It should be noted that Foy will not get the chance to earn a fairer paycheck on The Crown since every role is being re-cast for the period drama’s third season, which will begin filming in July and jump ahead to the 1970s.
The Crown’s salary news is just the latest instance of Hollywood’s egregious wage gap. Only this one stings even more than usual—perhaps because the entire series is centered on a woman’s power. And the show, one of the most expensive in television history, had a budget of $7 million per episode, while Foy was paid an estimated $40,000 per episode. If the (TV version of the) queen of the freaking commonwealth can’t get fair pay, what hope do the rest of us have?
Last year, Varietyreported that, compared to Foy, more established female television stars like Elisabeth Moss of The Handmaid’s Tale—who earned six Emmy nominations during her Mad Men run—commanded a reported $200,000 per episode. The same report approximated that This Is Us breakout Chrissy Metz, like Foy, also made $40,000 per episode, but The Crown filmed 10 episodes its first season versus This Is Us’s 18.
Before tackling The Crown, Smith played the 11th iteration of the title character on BBC’s Doctor Who. Foy, meanwhile, was largely unknown in the States when she was cast as Queen Elizabeth. Since departing The Crown, Foy has signed on to star as Lisbeth Salander, the world-class computer hacker and heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, in the upcoming franchise spin-off The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
The Crown, meanwhile, is re-casting its entire series, with Olivia Colman replacing Foy as the Queen and Helena Bonham Carterreportedly replacingVanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Producers are still in the process of casting the rest of the third season, but series casting director Nina Golddid give Vanity Faira few clues about which real-life characters will be getting more screen time this go-round.
Last month, Vanity Fair’s Margaret Heidenrybroke down how Hollywood’s quote system is constructed to pay women less—in part because their pay is based on what they earned on previous projects. As of January 1, however, California law has changed in women’s favor—banning employers from asking potential employees about previous pay in an effort to close the gender-wage gap.