In solidarity with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the stars of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (Robert Downey Jr, Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon) walked out of the film’s London premiere. Hollywood went on a strike after film and movie studios failed to acknowledge the demands for better pay and more protection against artificial intelligence in the industry. Earlier on the red carpet, Matt Damon had told Variety, “We talked about it. Look, if it’s called now, everyone’s going to walk obviously in solidarity… Once the strike is officially called. That’s why we moved this (red carpet) up because we know the second it’s called, we’re going home.”
Matt Damon extending his support to the SAG-AFTRA, added that “we’ve got to get a fair deal.” “We gave the strike authorization. We voted 98% to 2% to do that because we know our leadership has our best interest at heart It’s really about working actors. It’s $26,000 to qualify for health coverage and a lot of people are on the margins and residual payments are getting them across that threshold. This isn’t an academic exercise. This is real life and death stuff. Hopefully we get to a resolution quickly. No one wants a work stoppage, but we’ve got to get a fair deal.” Variety quoted the actor as saying.
Meanwhile, Matt Damon’s Oppenheimer co-star Emily Blunt told Variety: “Obviously we stand with all of the actors and at whatever point it’s called, we’re going to be going home and standing together through it because I want everyone to get a fair deal.” When asked if she will be joining the picket line herself, The Devil Wears Prada actor added, “Oh, I think so.”
Veteran actor-filmmaker Kenneth Branagh, speaking of the strike, told Variety, “There are a lot of people here we did not want to disappoint, but we’re also in complete solidarity with our colleagues and what they’re doing. I know they’ve worked diligently to achieve an agreement which is happening at a critical point in our industry. It’s important that we’re ready to be shoulder-to-shoulder with them as the situation develops.”
The initial strike deadline was postponed by a month and it began on Thursday after studios failed to meet the demands. Hollywood actor union president Fran Drescher told news agency AFP, “We, in good faith, gave them an extension, with the hope that they would make deep inroads, and we would really have something to discuss. But we were duped. They stayed behind closed doors, they kept canceling our meetings, wasting time.”
(With inputs from AFP)