More than 20 minutes into Friday’s “The Crown” panel, it seemed the cast would never address the royal elephant in the room. But then Vanity Fair’s Krista Smith asked her final question: What about the pay gap?
Amid a media storm surrounding reports that Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip, received a higher salary on the series than Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth, Netflix canceled red carpet interviews for the event in North Hollywood on Friday. However, during the panel with Foy, Vanessa Kirby, show creator Peter Morgan, and costume designer Jane Petrie, Foy shared her thoughts on the controversy.
“I have had the most extraordinary revelation about myself and womankind,” Foy said. “It’s sort of amazing that the conversations people are having now, people think we’ve always been able to have, but we haven’t. You asking me that question is probably the first time in my career that anybody has ever asked me about being a woman in this industry, or just being a woman in general, and to me I find that amazing.”
The actress went on to address women in the industry and otherwise with her new outlook on women’s empowerment.
“If I don’t speak up and support myself, then no one else can,” she continued. “It’s about being able to feel you can be your own advocate, and you can make a point, and you can say something without it being you being ‘difficult.’ It can actually just be you supporting yourself.”
Kirby, who portrays Princess Margaret, also spoke on the topic, citing her character’s oppression as a woman. In the series, the princess faces multiple barriers, most notably being forbidden to marry the man she loves because he is a divorcee. The actress said Margaret’s resilience on the show has influenced how she approaches real life.
“Margaret, as a character, has given so much to me in my life, just as a person and getting to know someone that amazing,” Kirby said. “I think I took for granted how little women are at the forefront of something … she definitely made me want to be braver and bolder and stronger.”
Though he did not answer the pay gap question, Morgan did stress Foy’s cruciality to the series earlier on the panel. Whenever he hit a wall in postproduction, the creator said he could always rely on Foy’s footage because of her strength as an actress.
“The only way I would try to fix a scene at the end of the day was to anchor it around Claire,” Morgan said. “When Claire was onscreen, the whole thing settled … just as I think the queen gives a great stability as an anchor to the country, so Claire was doing in our show.”
The producers of “The Crown” have publicly apologized to Foy and Smith for the pay scandal. Whether Foy will receive compensation for the inequity is unclear, however, since an entirely new cast will take over for seasons 3 and 4. In a lighter segment of the panel, Foy and Kirby recounted their desperation to find out who would replace them as Elizabeth and Margaret in season 3.
“They’re so secretive,” Foy said, referring to the show’s creative team. “We were constantly trying to find out.”
“I don’t think they trusted me not to tell anyone, actually,” Kirby joked.
The FYC event also included a screening of the season 2 finale, as “The Crown” looks to build on its past Emmy nominations. In 2017, the series garnered 12 total Emmy nominations and three wins.