The next two seasons of The Crown will feature an older cast as Queen Elizabeth and her family move into the 1970s (WHO WILL PLAY DIANA). Olivia Colman is taking over as QEII, and after a rather long casting period, Tobias Menzies of Outlander fame has just been confirmed as the new Prince Phillip (he’s also currently on The Terror which is half amazing and half misery porn). Paul Bettany was the first name out of the gate but he withdrew for unspecified reasons. Then the producers were tossing around Hugh Laurie’s name, but obviously that didn’t happen. So it’s fallen to Tobias Menzies. I can kind of see it, around the eyes especially, and I’m sure he’ll make a decent Phillip.
Of course The Crown has been making headlines recently after it came out that breakout star Claire Foy was paid less than her Prince Phillip, Matt Smith. The standard argument is that Smith, a former Doctor Who, was a more internationally known, bankable star at the time, so he was worth more on the contingency that he would, in theory, attract a larger audience than the comparatively unknown Foy. But the whole salary debate comes down to the old logic no longer working in a world where stars just don’t matter like they used to. People tuned in to see a soap opera about the royal family, not to see Doctor Who play a prince. (And how many average citizens ACTUALLY recognize Doctors Who?)
In response to the media nightmare that followed this revelation, The Crown producers pledged that “no one gets paid more than the queen”. Great! Parity! But here’s my question—is that because they are paying Olivia Colman her full worth as an actor with a long career and list of accomplishments, or because they capped the salary? Because this is what people on the representation side do not want to happen, it’s why they don’t want studios and producers setting salary lines. The fear—and I have heard this over and over in the last few months—is that without the ability to negotiate, everyone makes less. It’s hard to have sympathy for millionaires making slightly less millions, but I do see how this could create hostility and create more division, instead of a more equal, whole community.
For instance, there is a petition floating for Matt Smith to donate the difference in his salary to Time’s Up. Let’s be clear—no. Mark Wahlberg needed to donate his reshoot salary from All the Money in the World because it looked like he took advantage of a sensitive situation. Matt Smith did not capitalize on the fallout from a scandal, he just…went to work. What we have to find now is a way for men and woman going about their normal business to be paid equitably, and on the talent side they’d like to find that way without producers and studios setting salary caps. In the meantime, the way to “fix” The Crown’s Foy/Smith f*ck-up is for the producers to not just apologize, but to send Foy a check for the difference. Make a petition for that.
So it’s clear that the old quote system isn’t working. Stars matter less, so basing pay on an outdated notion of who is a bigger star doesn’t work anymore. Duana is right and it should be the responsibility of the studios and producers—the ones actually holding the purse strings—to ensure there is gender parity in salary, but I understand the agents’ worry that letting them decide will mean everyone makes less because they won’t raise women’s salaries, they’ll just lower everyone else’s. We need something between the two extremes, something that allows for negotiation but has some level of transparency meant to promote equal pay. No one likes to talk about money but this conversation is not going away.