Brow Beat

Claire Foy Says Being at the Center of The Crown Pay Gap Controversy Is “Very Very Odd”

Matt Smith and Claire Foy stare into each others' eyes, not smiling, in The Crown.
Matt Smith and Claire Foy in The Crown.
Coco Van Oppens/Netflix

It’s been nearly two weeks since the team behind The Crown admitted that Claire Foy was paid less than co-star Matt Smith for her work on the show. “Going forward,” producer Suzanne Mackie promised at the time, “no one gets paid more than the queen.” But with sexism in the TV and film industries on everybody’s minds, it’s no surprise that a media frenzy erupted over news of a gendered wage gap on one of Netflix’s most popular, female-driven shows, and now, the Golden Globe–winning actress is finally addressing the controversy.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Foy said, “Anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary.” She added that she was “not surprised” that people were confused by the pay disparity, “in the sense that [The Crown is] a female-led drama.” Still, Foy seemed ambivalent over being at the center of the narrative: “I know that Matt 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.”

Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind The Crown, addressed that very awkwardness in an apology issued to Foy and Smith last week, writing that “[they] have found themselves at the center of a media storm this week through no fault of their own.” The statement also clarified that “Left Bank Pictures [is] 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.” That last bit is no doubt a response to the petition asking Matt Smith to donate his salary to Time’s Up.

Left Bank is now in talks with the British equivalent of Time’s Up, as well ERA 50:50, a movement dedicated to equal representation for actresses, to evaluate its sexist practices. Here’s hoping Left Bank treats Olivia Colman, who will portray Liz in The Crown season three, with a bit more deference. Claire Foy will certainly be watching : In the same interview, she said, “I’ll be asking to see [Season 3] earlier than it’s available. I can’t wait to see it. I think Olivia Colman’s amazing.”

Foy appears to be handling the situation in true Elizabethan fashion: with grace and apropos bafflement.