Variety reported last night that Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Kenneth Branagh, and other stars of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer discussed a game plan for their UK Premiere should the Screen Actors Guild go on strike, including moving up the red carpet start time to get it in under the wire. (Under union rules, actors aren’t allowed to do press for projects while on strike.)
As of around midnight last night, they all walked, following the breakdown of negotiations between SAG and the producers guild, even though a strike has not yet been officially called.
“It’s really about working actors,” he continued. “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.”
Damon, Blunt, and Branagh all empathetically related their solidarity with the strike and support for their fellow actors.
“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,” Blunt said before adding that she plans to join a picket line when the time comes.
If you’re wondering what kind of professional jobbing actors can’t even qualify for health insurance, what with their lavish lifestyles and fancy parties, Mara Wilson (Matilda, Big Hero 6: The Series) offers some perspective:
I haven’t acted much as an adult, but I WAS on a recurring character on one of the most critically acclaimed animated shows of all time, as well playing an actual Disney villain.
But thanks to streaming, I have never once made enough to qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare.
— Mara Wilson (@MaraWilson) July 13, 2023
Obviously Damon, Blunt, and Branagh represent the top of the pay scale, meaning they’re also miles away from being representative of what the average SAG member makes in a year.
Be prepared for more press events to get canceled and for more actors to go on talk shows to discuss their risotto recipes instead of the latest project they’ve got hitting theaters.