Earlier this year, fans of Netflix’s The Crown were outraged to discover that series lead Claire Foy was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, despite being more of a focus in the series (and, you know, playing the Crown).
Production company Left Bank Pictures took responsibility for the pay disparity and apologised, promised it wouldn’t happen in the future with new queen Olivia Colman, and even donated some money to the Time’s Up initiative – and now, Matt Smith has returned to the topic in a new interview, describing the situation as “a grave mistake”.
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“It was disappointing,” Smith told Variety, before adding that he hadn’t known about the pay disparity while they were making the series.
“I would never ask at work how much someone earns. Never. My Dad taught me you never talk about money. So it was news to me.
“It was not something that I was aware of, but when we heard, I think we were both embarrassed really because Claire did the most work. She worked the hardest and she should be rewarded in response to that.
“But the important thing is that there was a response. Claire was the queen and she deserved to be remunerated accordingly. We expect this to be the norm going forward. And I’m sure that is the case with Olivia. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be.
“It was a grave mistake, but one that won’t be repeated,” he concluded.
Foy herself commented on the story earlier this year, saying that she was “not surprised” so many people took it to heart.
“I’m surprised because I’m at the centre of it, and anything that I’m at the centre of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary,” Foy said in March.
“But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’
“But I know that Matt feels the same that I do,” she concluded, “that it’s odd to find yourself at the centre [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”
The next series of The Crown will see the series’ entire cast overhauled with Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies taking over Foy and Smith’s roles as an older version of the Queen and Prince Philip – and the former Doctor Who star is excited to see them in action.
“I wished him well,” Smith said of Menzies. “We talked briefly about Philip.
“He’s a good guy and he’s a fantastic actor and I think he’s going to make a really genuinely brilliant Prince Philip. I think that’s a good bit of casting. They’ve got that right.
“And Olivia — she’s amazing. Totally amazing. So excited to see what she does with it. I think she’s got such range as an actor. So I’m excited.
“I think it’s going to go from strength to strength, but the glory is of course when Foy and Smith were involved,” he laughed.
“We want them to do well. Just not that well. Well enough, but not better.”
The Crown series one and two are streaming on Netflix now