'The Crown': Petition Urges Star Matt Smith to Donate Pay Disparity to Time's Up

Days after news broke that The Crown star Claire Foy was paid less than male counterpart Matt Smith, a petition is calling on the latter to donate the extra salary he received for the Netflix drama to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

At a March 13 conference in Israel, producers revealed that star Foy earned less than male co-star Smith for the first two seasons of the Netflix hit. Foy played Queen Elizabeth in the drama from showrunner Peter Morgan, Sony Pictures Television Studios and Left Bank, and she earned a Golden Globe, SAG Award and Emmy nomination, among other accolades, for the part. Smith came into The Crown — on which he played Prince Philip for two seasons — with considerably more experience after having spent three seasons starring as The Doctor on Doctor Who. 

"Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen," Left Bank creative director and executive producer Suzanne Mackie said at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem. Mackie acknowledged that Smith's experience on Doctor Who fueled the salary disparity.

The Care2 Petition urges Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Smith to "show that they stand with women and do the right thing," while asking the actor and streaming giant to donate the difference in Smith's pay to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

The Crown drive — which was near 22,000 signatures of its goal of 25,000 — comes two months after a similar petition urged Mark Wahlberg to donate the $1.5 million more that he made during reshoots for All the Money in the World after news broke that his co-star, Michelle Williams, received a mere $1,000 for the same work. (Wahlberg and his agency, WME, would eventually donate $2 million to the Time's Up fund.)

The Crown chronicles Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the present day. New actors are being brought in to take over Foy and Smith's roles, among others, for the previously announced third and fourth seasons, with those parts being recast for what is expected to be a fifth and sixth season. Olivia Colman (Golden Globe winner for AMC's The Night Manager) will take over for Foy as Queen Elizabeth, while the new Prince Philip has yet to be cast. Helena Bonham Carter takes over for Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret as new characters — including Princess Diana — will be introduced.

Salary parity has become a larger part of the conversation as the Time's Up movement continues to gather steam, emboldening women to speak up about subjects like money that were once considered taboo. Pay discrepancies have also been in focus in the U.K. — where The Crown is shot — after recent revelations that male presenters at the BBC were paid substantially more than female ones. That led to the resignation of one prominent BBC editor, Carrie Gracie, who was BBC's China editor.

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