I think I'm supposed to be outraged to find out that the star of the hit Netflix show, The Crown, Claire Foy, earned less money than her co-star, Matt Smith. As Queen Elizabeth, she had more screen time, was the main character, and totally and completely knocked her performance out of the park. She was, to put it mildly, amazing.
And if perchance, they were negotiating new contracts with Foy and Smith, I would expect that Foy would earn a boatload more than her prince. But they aren't. Both are being replaced by older actors.
Why am I okay with Foy earning less? Well, because acting isn't like accounting. Or HR. Or whatever job it is that you do. Part of the job of an actor is to bring in viewers. When you have a reputation, you'll bring people in.
I'm not British, which undoubtedly skews my views towards British film and television, but when I look at Foy's IMDB profile, I don't see any starring roles. I'd never heard of her before The Crown.
Matt Smith, on the other hand, is someone I, and millions of other Doctor Who fans know. He came with a big name. Producers could be relatively sure that some people would turn in just for the opportunity to see The Doctor take on a different role.
Actors negotiate contracts for each role. There are different things put into these contracts and each actor's contract is different. There was an uproar earlier this year when Michelle Williams earned a pittance compared to co-star Mark Wahlberg when they had to do re-shoots of a film, due to Kevin Spacey's scandal. It had nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with contracts and star power. Williams had an obligation to do re-shoots in her contract, while Wahlberg did not.
Is it possible that, had Williams attempted to include this in her contract, she wouldn't have gotten the role? Sure. But again, who is the bigger star? That would be Wahlberg. He's going to have a bigger draw.
Like movie stars, CEO pay is very dependent on the individual, not the role. Everyone brings something different to the table and one person really can make or break a company or a film.
So, yeah, I'm good with Foy earning less for her fantastic work, because that's how movies and television get made. But, would I expect her to command a higher paycheck now? Absolutely. She earned it.