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April 23, 2018 05:14 PM

The Crown‘s Matt Smith is breaking his silence after it was revealed that he was paid more than Claire Foy, the Netflix hit’s leading lady.

Foy starred as Queen Elizabeth II on the first two seasons of the drama opposite Smith, who played her on-screen husband, Prince Philip. However, producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries said at a panel at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem that Smith received a bigger paycheck due to his higher profile coming off  Doctor Who.

“Claire is one of my best friends, and I believe that we should be paid equally and fairly and there should be equality for all,” Smith told The Hollywood Reporter at the Tribeca Film Festival, where his film Mapplethorpe is making its premiere. “I support her completely, and I’m pleased that it was resolved and they made amends for it because that’s what needed to happen. Going forward, I think we should all bear in mind that we need to strive to make this better and a more even playing field for everyone involved — but not just in our industry, in all industries.”

Mackie said at the panel, “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen.” (Foy and Smith won’t reprise their roles for future seasons, with the role of Queen Elizabeth being taken by Broadchurch actress Olivia Colman and Prince Philip by Tobias Menzies of Game of Thrones.)

Claire Foy and Matt Smith
Robert Viglasky/Netflix

The U.K. production company behind the Netflix drama issued an apology for putting the stars in the middle of a pay equity debate.

“We want to apologize to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the center of a media storm this week through no fault of their own,” Left Bank Pictures said in a statement, according to Deadline. “Claire and Matt are incredibly gifted actors who, along with the wider cast on The Crown have worked tirelessly to bring our characters to life with compassion and integrity.”

The statement continued: “As the producers of The Crown, we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.”

Claire Foy and Matt Smith
John Phillips/Getty Images

Foy recently told EW that she is “not surprised” the news that she got paid less than her costar became such a big story.

“I’m surprised because I’m at the center of it, and anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary,” she said. “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, that it’s odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.”

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