'Oppenheimer' cast leaves premiere due to SAG-AFTRA strike, director says
Christopher Nolan voiced support for his actors at the film's London premiere.
Christopher Nolan is one of the first major players in Hollywood to address the strike by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, known widely as SAG-AFTRA, and its 160,000 members.
At the European premiere of his newest film "Oppenheimer" in London on Thursday, the famed director voiced his support of his cast.
"I have to acknowledge the work of our incredible cast, led by Cillian Murphy," he said onstage, according to a video shared by Deadline. "The list is enormous -- Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek and so many more."
"You've seen them here earlier on the red carpet," he continued. "Unfortunately, they are off to write their picket signs for what we believe to be an imminent strike by SAG, joining one of my guilds, the Writers Guild, in the struggle for fair wages for working members of their union, and we support them."
Blunt told Deadline at the red carpet that she and her fellow actors would be "leaving together as a cast in unity with everyone" in their union.
"If our leadership is saying that the deal isn't fair, then we gotta hold strong till we get a deal that's fair for working actors," Damon told Deadline at the premiere. "It's the difference between having health care and not for a lot of actors, and we gotta do what's right by them."
The SAG-AFTRA national board held a vote Thursday authorizing the strike, which will begin at midnight Thursday and see members joining picket lines Friday morning.
Some of the issues SAG-AFTRA have been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, include fair wages in the age of streaming and issues surrounding artificial intelligence, among others.
The parties have been in negotiations for weeks, with the current contract expiring at 11:59 p.m. PT Wednesday. It was originally set to expire on June 30, but SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP agreed to an extension in the hopes of reaching an agreement.
"Despite our team's efforts, the AMPTP has remained steadfast in its commitment to devaluing the work of our members," Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA's national executive director and chief negotiator, said Thursday, claiming that AMPTP "remains unwilling to offer a fair deal."
Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, said the "the eyes of the world and particularly the eyes of labor are upon us."
Drescher continued, "What happens here is important because what's happening to us is what's happening across all fields of labor by means of when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run."
AMPTP said in a statement that it "presented a deal that offered historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors' digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members" to the actors union.
"A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life," AMPTP added.
The 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike since May after negotiations with AMPTP stalled.
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