The Crown producers say sorry to stars over pay

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in hit Netflix series The Crown.
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in hit Netflix series The Crown. PHOTO: NETFLIX

LONDON • The producers of the Netflix show The Crown apologised on Tuesday for paying the actress who starred as Queen Elizabeth less than her male co-star, but said nothing about redressing the past imbalance.

Producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries had caused a furore last week when they acknowledged that Claire Foy was paid less than Matt Smith, who portrayed Prince Philip in a supporting role, for the first two seasons of the hit series about the British royal family.

The story, the latest example of pay disparity in the entertainment industry, made headlines and prompted a petition asking Smith to donate the difference in his salary to Time's Up, the movement addressing sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, in Britain.

"We want to apologise to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own," British-based production company Left Bank Pictures said in a statement.

"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."

Neither Foy, Smith nor Netflix have commented on the issue and the size of the pay disparity is not known.

Foy, who won a Golden Globe last year for her portrayal of Britain's longest-ruling monarch during the early years of her reign , received a reported US$40,000 (S$52,700) an episode. The Crown has had 10 episodes a season.

Claire Foy and Matt Smith at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Foy starred as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, but was paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip in a supporting role. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

For comparison, Chrissy Metz was reportedly paid US$40,000 an episode for the acclaimed NBC drama This Is Us, which has had 18 episodes a season.

Tituss Burgess reportedly made US$90,000 an episode for the Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which has had 13 episodes a season.

Olivia Colman will take over the role of Queen Elizabeth when The Crown returns for its third season, which is in production now.

"Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen," Mackie said last week.

Tuesday's statement did not say whether or how the pay disparity between Foy and Smith would be made up retroactively.

The Crown is one of the most expensive television shows ever produced, costing a reported US$130 million for the first season.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2018, with the headline 'The Crown producers say sorry to stars over pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe