'Queen' Claire Foy speaks out on working motherhood: 'It all seems too much'

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Claire Foy poses for photographers at the photo call for the film 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' in London, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Claire Foy at the photo call for the film 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Most actresses are keen to appear superwomen, whisking from movie set to red carpet to well-appointed nursery without a ruffled hair or smudged scarlet lip. Their comments on motherhood are so relentlessly positive it can make ordinary women, who are struggling to get out of a dressing gown to go and buy milk, feel quite inadequate.

Like Drew Barrymore - "my favourite thing about being a mom is just what a better person it makes you on a daily basis," or singer Kelly Clarkson enthusing "becoming a mother has made me next-level confident, I've never felt more empowered."

Sometimes, it's good to have a reality check from a famous actor who's willing to be honest about the struggle. And there's nobody more famous than The Queen - or at least, the actress who first portrayed the Monarch in The Crown, the much-loved Netflix drama series that even the royals themselves watch.

Claire Foy , 37, was Her Majesty in series one and two, taking The Queen from nervous teenager to stately wife and mother, and won several Golden Globes and Emmys for her brilliant portrayal. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21:  Matt Smith (L) and Claire Foy attend the World Premiere after party for season 2 of Netflix
Foy with Matt Smith, who co-starred as Prince Philip (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images )

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But as a successful actor with a child, she has admitted, something has to give. Her daughter, Ivy Rose, is now six and Foy is no longer with her dad, TV actor Stephen Campbell Moore.

Speaking to Harper's Bazaar Magazine, Foy said, "There's this pressure to be this cake-baking, fun, playing 24-hours-a-day mother, being some sort of vehicle for entertainment, love and food." 

She joked that she felt sorry for her daughter.

"I'm just prepared to apologise for who I am: 'I am so sorry - but you're lumped with me. This is the hand you've been dealt, let's try to make the best of it'."

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Admitting that her career isn't always compatible with motherhood, she went on, "You’re working 14- to 16-hour days. One person always has to be at home, and that is conventionally the woman. 

"In some countries, like France, women are paid a lump sum when they have a baby. It feels like in our society, there is this thing where everything falls on the woman. The guilt of it. The burden of it. It all seems too much."

Back in 2017, she told Vogue, "On the first day of filming, I found myself halfway up a Scottish mountain, with engorged boobs and no way of getting down to feed my baby.

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Foy as The Queen in The Crown. (Getty Images)
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She won several awards for her delicate portrayal for The Queen (Getty Images)

"I had to ring my husband and tell him to give her formula. It was like someone had stamped on my heart and, as I sat in a Land Rover trying to get a broken breast pump to work, I felt I’d made the worst mistake of my life.”

Ivy Rose's birth was traumatic, and Foy needed a blood transfusion after a haemorrhage. 

“Because I was so tired, I just played each (in The Crown) moment as each moment,” she said. “I didn’t over-think it, and I genuinely didn’t have the energy to invent any emotions that weren’t there. It was just one steady bulldozer of emotion pushing me all the way through.”

Now she says "I would never have a four-month-old and do that again. I was grateful for everything that experience (The Crown) brought me. It completely changed my life in every single way. I don’t regret the decision, but... my God there were some very dark days. Awful days."

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Foy has since starred in The Girl in the Spider's Web. (Getty Images)

Foy also added, "I have always found love very...overwhelming. Children just love you, even if you’re a monster. It’s such a big responsibility to be in charge of such an amazing thing and all you’re going to do is ***k it up." 

Now that she is separated from Campbell Moore, she confessed, "there are periods when (Ivy) is with her dad and not with me. That is physically painful...It’s just hard."

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Foy is no stranger to difficulty, after being diagnosed with a tumour in one eye as a teen, along with arthritis. "If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to throw my cards on the table and say I wanted to study drama."

Her life philosophy nowadays is simple. She told Oprah Magazine, "Thinking isn't always the answer. Sometimes the best thing to do is listen to everything your heart, body, and soul are trying to tell you."

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