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Hollywood actors ready to strike alongside writers

Meryl Streep is one of the many Hollywood actors who are reportedly ready to strike.

Meryl Streep is one of the many Hollywood actors who are reportedly ready to strike. Photo: Getty

Hollywood actors may join writers by going on strike as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) deal with Hollywood studios comes to an end on Friday.

The union has authorised a strike if a deal does not go through before then.

“Over the weekend, people were very hopeful when [guild national president] Fran Drescher came out and said that negotiations were going well and there was progress being made,” Variety‘s senior culture and events editor Marc Malkin told ET.

“But then I talked to someone yesterday and they [said] to me, ‘I think there’s definitely going to be a strike’. At this point, no one knows and then if there is a strike, how long it goes for, we just don’t know.”

Famous names are among the 300 actors who signed a letter urging union officials to not simply settle the dispute if their demands aren’t met, in the latest example of professional unrest in Hollywood.

The actors reportedly include Jane Fonda, Meryl StreepJennifer Lawrence, Rami Malek, Quinta BrunsonJulia Louis-DreyfusBen Stiller, Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Schumer and Amy Poehler.

For the past few weeks SAG-AFTRA has been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood studios over a range of working conditions. 

The guild represents more than 160,000 actors, journalists, singers, voice actors, models, radio personalities and media professionals worldwide.

Drescher said in a video that negotiations were “extremely productive” and that they were “standing strong and we’re going to achieve a seminal deal”.

Union members consider minimum pay, residuals that take into account streaming, health care, pensions and regulation of self-tapes used in casting process to be the most important issues, according to Rolling Stone.

The letter signed by actors has not been released publicly, but has been seen by Rolling Stone and CNN.

“We hope you’ve heard the message from us: This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might be considered a good deal in any other years is simply not enough,” the letter said, according to Rolling Stone.

“We feel that our wages, our craft, our creative freedom, and the power of our union have all been undermined in the last decade. We need to reverse those trajectories.”

Ready to strike

Those who signed the letter are prepared to strike “if it comes to that”, CNN reported.

However, the actors noted that by going on strike, many will be faced with “incredible hardships”.

Fonda told The Hollywood Reporter she would walk the picket line.

“We’re nowhere without the writers so of course we have to stand with the writers and we want them to stand firm. But we can’t become gig employees, not when the heads of studios have yachts and mansions and tax write-offs and reductions that nobody else gets. We need justice and respect and we have to stand with each other,” Fonda said.

Actors express concerns of AI

Hollywood writers have been on strike since May, and are doing so in hopes of getting better pay, equity and assurances AI won’t replace writers for movies and TV.

Both the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and SAG-AFTRA have expressed solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), regarding the strike.

In the letter signed by actors, they also raised concerns about the rise of AI.

“We think it is absolutely vital that this negotiation protects not just our likenesses, but makes sure we are well compensated when any of our work is used to train AI,” it said, according to CNN.

The writers strike has led to several TV and film projects, such as new seasons of Stranger Things and a Game of Thrones spin-off, being shut down.

During the last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008, a studio deal with the DGA prompted writers to head back to the bargaining table.

But there are no new talks scheduled between the WGA and studios, and striking writers have insisted the directors’ latest deal will not influence their position this time.

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