British actress Claire Foy said she was “very upset” after discovering she was paid less than co-star Matt Smith on The Crown but subsequently it has had an “amazing impact”.
The 38-year-old’s performance as a young Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix drama won her two Emmys and a Golden Globe, however in 2018 producers revealed it earned her less than Smith’s portrayal of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Foy, who first heard about the pay gap when it made national headlines, told the Guardian’s Saturday magazine: “I wasn’t shocked. I was very upset. Not like, boohoo, crying upset. I was very upset.”
The actress, whose latest film Women Talking has been nominated for best picture at the Oscars, said she had not “allowed” herself to get angry about the gender pay gap row at the time.
“I really love my industry, and I think it is made up of lots of honourable, incredibly talented, brilliant, imaginative, amazing people,” she said.
“Sometimes, you see something, you hear something, you notice something, or something happens to you, and you just go, ‘Oh God, what am I doing? Why am I doing it? Should I be part of this?’. I found it really heart-breaking.”
The Crown controversy came shortly after US actress Michelle Williams made headlines when it was disclosed that actor Mark Wahlberg earned $1.5m (£1.1m) to refilm portions of All The Money In The World to erase actor Kevin Spacey, while Williams reportedly received less than $1,000 dollars (£728).
Wahlberg then announced that he was donating the money to Time’s Up – an initiative to help those who have suffered sexual assault, harassment or abuse in the workplace.
Speaking about being thrown into the eye of the pay gap storm, Foy said: “Suddenly I was getting asked all these questions and being encouraged by certain people involved to be the spokesperson for it.
“I was like, ‘Absolutely f****** not’.
“I just think everybody wanted me to behave in a certain way, in response to it. And I didn’t. ‘It’s fine! It’s absolutely fine what happened!’. That’s what I think they wanted me to say.
“I mean, it’s so hard. I don’t think I should be honest about certain things about it, because I don’t think it would be helpful. It would add more fuel to it. We’re still talking about this, however many years down the line.
“I know the extent of it. I still went back on the show. If anything, I just didn’t want my experience of the show and what we all did on it to be overshadowed.”
At the time, Left Bank Pictures publicly apologised to both Foy and Smith and took responsibility for setting the salaries before pledging to do better.
Foy, who said the pay row has subsequently had an “amazing impact” because “you can’t lie now”, has since reprised her role in the fifth series of the show, appearing during a flashback episode showing the late Queen’s visit to Clydebank in 1953 to launch the Royal Yacht Britannia.
The Crown saw Foy portray the Queen in the first two series of the Netflix show before Olivia Colman took over for series three and four, while Imelda Staunton is the star of series five and six.
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