UK

Olivia Wilde says striking actors ‘can’t settle for scraps out of desperation’

Striking writers and actors chant as they walk a picket line at NBC Universal Studios in New York (Bebeto Matthews/AP)
Striking writers and actors chant as they walk a picket line at NBC Universal Studios in New York (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

Hollywood director and actress Olivia Wilde has joined thousands of performers on picket lines in the biggest entertainment industry strike in six decades, which threatens to derail productions both home and abroad and could last “until the end of the year”.

Members of US union Sag-Aftra (the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) joined writers who were already striking outside major production companies in Los Angeles, including Warner Bros, Netflix and Disney, as well as in New York.

Wilde, who directed Booksmart and Don’t Worry Darling, posted videos from a picket line on her Instagram story.

The 39-year-old wrote: “@sagaftra since ‘02 . My heart goes out to everyone who was forced to stop working because the AMPTP is failing to recognize our basic worth.

“It’s a real shame they put us all in this position. But we can’t settle for scraps out of desperation. The contract simply needs to reflect the massive shifts in the industry since the last negotiation.

“The jig is UP. Pay people for their work. Greed is gross. #unionstrong.”

Succession star Brian Cox warned the strike could last “until the end of the year”.

The Scottish actor told BBC Newscast: “The whole streaming thing has shifted the paradigm. They are trying to freeze us out and beat us into the ground because there’s a lot of money to be made in streaming, and the desire is not to share it with the writers or the performers.”

Other stars on picket lines on Friday included Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis, Thelma & Louise actress Susan Sarandon, Lord Of The Rings star Sean Astin and Gilmore Girls star Sean Gunn, the brother of Guardians Of The Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn.

Sean Gunn wrote on Instagram: “This was quite a day on the picket line. To be continued.”

Jim Rash, who appears in TV comedy Community, told the PA news agency outside the Paramount Pictures studios, the action was simply about securing “a fair deal”.

“I think today is about unity and about reigniting the cause, because we’ve been out here for a while,” the actor, who had also picketed with striking members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), said.

“For me it’s just a fair deal – our checkpoints are slightly different for what that deal is, but everyone wants a fair deal.

“The industry has already changed and we never changed the rest with it.”

More than 11,000 WGA members have been on strike since May 2.

Celebrities including George Clooney, Halle Berry and Alec Baldwin have also expressed support for the strikes.

In a statement shared with PA, Clooney said: “This is an inflection point in our industry. Actors and writers in large numbers have lost their ability to make a living.

“For our industry to survive that has to change. For actors that journey starts now.”

In a video on Instagram, Baldwin congratulated the union for calling the strike in order to protect its “rank and file” members.

“I don’t think anybody really wants a strike but they don’t want to continue under the unfair contracts that we’re working under now,” he said.

“So congratulations to everybody and I hope this is over right after we get everything we want.”

British stars including Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh also expressed solidarity, with the pair among cast members walking out of the London premiere of Oppenheimer on Thursday, shortly after the strike was announced.

The chief executive of the UK Cinema Association said the strike may cause “little if any disruption” to British theatres for the “foreseeable future”.

Phil Clapp told PA disruption may be minimal, although it was likely that some UK film premieres would go ahead without cast members until the dispute was resolved.

“While it will clearly be for each individual to make their own decision, it may be that until the dispute is resolved we will see some premieres not being supported by the ‘talent’ in front of or behind the camera,” he said.

He added: “In terms of wider UK cinema-going, then given the challenges UK cinema operators have faced in the last few years, all will be concerned by anything which might potentially threaten the supply of films to the big screen, and so it is very much hoped that there will be a quick resolution.

“Unless the current strike is a protracted one, we are confident that cinemas will see little if any disruption in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Hollywood Strikes
Striking writers and actors take part in a rally outside Paramount studios in Los Angeles (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Among the productions in the UK that could be affected by the strike action is the filming of Deadpool 3, starring Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman.

House Of The Dragon series two with Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy could also be affected, alongside the second series of The Sandman with Tom Sturridge and the fourth series of Slow Horses with Academy Award winner Gary Oldman.

Film festivals, including those in Venice and Toronto, and awards shows such as the 75th Emmy Awards, could also be hit if the strike continues.