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Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ paid lead actress Claire Foy less than supporting actor Matt Smith

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 13/03/2018 Sonia Rao

Matt Smith et al. posing for the camera: Netflix paid Claire Foy less than co-star Matt Smith for her work on “The Crown.” She played Queen Elizabeth II, the lead role, while he played her husband, Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. (Robert Viglasky/Netflix) © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Netflix paid Claire Foy less than co-star Matt Smith for her work on “The Crown.” She played Queen Elizabeth II, the lead role, while he played her husband, Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. (Robert Viglasky/Netflix) If there is a lesson to take away from the first two seasons of “The Crown,” it is that no sane person would dare cross Queen Elizabeth II. Netflix seems to have learned this too late, however, as it was revealed on Tuesday that lead actress Claire Foy made less than co-star Matt Smith for her work on the show.

FILE PHOTO: Matt Smith and Claire Foy attending the Crown Premiere at Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London. © Press Association FILE PHOTO: Matt Smith and Claire Foy attending the Crown Premiere at Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London. Variety reported that producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries were asked during a discussion at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem whether the actors playing Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were paid the same amount. The pair said Smith made more because of his “Doctor Who” fame, saying that the inequity would be amended in the future.

Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, and Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy. © Press Association Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, and Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy. “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen,” Mackie said.

Unfortunately for Foy, she won’t be the one who’s paid more. The period drama’s unusual structure calls for an entirely different set of actors every two seasons. While Foy and Smith depicted the royal couple from the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s reign until the mid-1960s, their characters have been recast for the third and fourth seasons. Olivia Colman will play the queen when the series resumes filming in July, while the new Philip has yet to be announced. Helena Bonham Carter will replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, the queen’s rebellious younger sister.

Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy, and the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, returning from a world tour. © Press Association Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy, and the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, returning from a world tour. “Seasons 3 and 4 will be the test of whether the show really has the legs to survive,” Harries said, per Variety. “I think we were the first television series ever to change cast and continue, and we will change cast twice. It’s daunting but exciting, and I hope it’ll keep the series fresh and really of interest to people.”

Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, and Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy. © Press Association Undated handout still image issued by Netflix from the second series of The Crown of the Duke of Cambridge, played by Matt Smith, and Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy. The revelation that the show’s lead made less than a supporting actor is particularly surprising when considering critical reception. Foy received high praise for her portrayal of the restrained monarch, in which she nailed everything from the queen’s posh accent to her physical poise. She was nominated for an Emmy and won a Golden Globe for her performance in the first season, arguably placing her at the same level of fame as (if not higher than) Smith. She still received a smaller paycheck than him for the second season, which earned her another Golden Globe nod. The Washington Post has reached out to Foy’s and Smith’s representatives for comment.

File photo dated 21/11/17 of Matt Smith and Claire Foy, as the Crown's producers have confirmed that Smith was paid more than his co-star Foy for the Netflix drama. © Press Association File photo dated 21/11/17 of Matt Smith and Claire Foy, as the Crown's producers have confirmed that Smith was paid more than his co-star Foy for the Netflix drama. This isn’t the first time a woman has been paid less than a lower-billed actor. After Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct, “All the Money in the World” director Ridley Scott replaced him with Christopher Plummer and called the rest of the cast back to reshoot pivotal scenes. Michelle Williams, billed as the film’s lead actress, earned a fraction of what supporting actor Mark Wahlberg did for reshoots. USA Today reported that Williams earned just $80 a day, adding up to less than $1,000, while Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million total. Both actors were represented by the same agency.

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