Ahead of its November 2016 premiere on Netflix, The Crown was dubbed the most expensive TV show ever made, with a $130 million budget (it’s since lost that standing to Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings prequel series). But apparently, all of that money couldn’t prevent the producers of the show, Left Bank Productions, from making an age-old mistake: paying Claire Foy, the star of the show in its first two seasons, less than her co-star Matt Smith.
This salary disparity came to light while the show was recasting the roles of Queen Elizabeth II, whom Foy played to much acclaim, and Prince Philip. Left Bank admitted that Smith’s Doctor Who fame bumped his pay above Foy’s, even though as the portrayer of the queen of England, she was, you know, the crown. At the time, Foy said that though she was surprised to be at the center of such a story, people’s concern about the discrepancy didn’t shock her: “I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’ But I know that Matt [Smith] feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.” When asked about out-earning his co-star, Smith said “I think actually [Foy] probably should’ve been paid that originally in the first place... She’s the Queen for God’s sake. It’s ridiculous.” After noting that cast members never know what their colleagues are paid, the producers apologized for the discrepancy and voiced their support for eliminating the pay gap.
In March, Left Bank creative director Suzanne Mackie promised, “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen”—who will be played by Olivia Colman in season three—but didn’t mention whether Foy would get her back pay. But according to The Daily Mail, Left Bank has finally resolved this matter by cutting a check for the $275,000 difference in Foy’s pay. And in a statement issued to the publication, the company said it remains “absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias and for a rebalancing of the industry’s treatment of women in front of the camera and behind the scenes.”