A Care2 petition calling for The Crown actor Matt Smith (Prince Phillip) to donate part of his salary to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund is picking up steam nearly a week after series producers Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie admitted that he made more than former co-star Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth) during the series' first two seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Harries and Mackie, along with production designer Martin Childs, explained that the disparity in income was due to Smith's onscreen experience and notoriety as The Doctor on the hit series, Doctor Who. They also promised that in the future, "no one gets paid more than the Queen."
Neither the justification nor lofty promise proved good enough to appease fan Rebecca G, who set up the online petition to encourage Netflix and Smith "to show that they stand with women and do the right thing." She, and more than 23,000 others who have signed the petition, believe any changes made at the top — e.g., at Netflix and Hollywood — could cause a ripple effect through other industries, potentially helping millions of other women around the world receive equal pay for equal work.
Though a worthy cause, this petition may be targeting Smith a bit unfairly. Yes, he made more money than Foy, but it's unlikely that he or his manager, who is ultimately responsible for negotiating his salary, knew how much the other actors were making when inking the deal. The responsibility, therefore, should be placed on Netflix, not its male leads, to ensure that women and gender non-conforming people are compensated fairly for their work. That said, men can help others negotiate for a fair wage by telling them how much they're getting paid.
As THR notes, this isn't the first time fans have used petitions to demand change in Hollywood. Earlier this year, filmgoers collected approximately 16,000 signatures to persuade Mark Wahlberg to donate to Time's Up after learning he made nearly $1.5 million more than co-star Michelle Williams to reshoot scenes for All The Money In The World. The petition was successful, and Wahlberg pledged to donate his earnings.
"Over the last few days my reshoot fee for All The Money In The World has become an important topic of conversation," he said in a statement obtained by Deadline. "I 100% support the fight for fair pay and I'm donating the $1.5 million to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams' name."