A week after it was revealed that Claire Foy, the award-winning star of The Crown, was paid less than her costar Matt Smith, the U.K. production company behind the Netflix drama issued an apology for putting them 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 Tuesday, 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.”
After Crown producers Suzanne Mackie and Andy Harries acknowledged that Foy earned less for her role as Queen Elizabeth II than Smith did as her on-screen husband Prince Philip (which they attributed to to his Doctor Who fame during an INTV Conference in Jerusalem on March 13), a public petition was created calling for Smith to donate the difference in their salaries to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
Moving Forward, Left Bank Pictures also said that it will reevaluate its approach to the gender pay gap and looks forward to working with Time’s Up U.K.
“We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a re-balancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes,” Left Bank Pictures said. “We all have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate. As company policy we are engaged in conversations with ERA 50:50 and going forward are keen to talk to Time’s Up UK; organisations which are working to ensure all women have a voice.”
Left Bank Pictures and Netflix have not yet responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Though Mackie and Harries said at the conference that “going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” both Foy and Smith’s times on the series have come to an end.
Netflix has tapped British actress Olivia Colman for the show’s third and fourth seasons, playing Elizabeth a decade later, and an actor has not yet signed on to play the role of Prince Philip. Helena Bonham Carter is also nearing a deal to replace Vanessa Kirby — who played the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret — for the third and fourth seasons, according to Entertainment Weekly.
An L.A.-based talent agent with knowledge of pay disparity among actors previously told PEOPLE, “In Hollywood, actors’ salaries are based mostly on what they earned for their previous work, what we call a quote. Think of it like getting a bid to have work done on your house. You ask the contractor how much the work will cost and they give you a quote. It’s the same idea.”
“In Matt Smith’s case, he likely had a higher quote or salary than Claire because of his work on Doctor Who. With Doctor Who being such a high-profile job, he was also likely able to increase his salary from his previous quote for The Queen. Going with the contractor idea, if the contractor has done some high profile work on the crown jewel of the neighborhood, they are going to ask for more on their next job, increasing their quote,” the agent explains. “Claire had not yet had that high profile job to demand the salary that Matt could coming off Doctor Who.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown are now streaming on Netflix.