The Venice Film Festival starts at the end of the month, kicking off what is sure to be a strange fall festival season, even after enduring the weird pandemic years. Assuming the WGA and especially SAG-AFTRA strikes will still be going on—which they almost certainly will be —stars will be thin on the ground. 


I noticed the TIFF lineup is heavy on actor-directors like Chris Pine and Anna Kendrick, both making their feature directorial debuts, undoubtedly in hopes that some will attend to promote their films as directors, if not as actors. Well, one actor-director is setting the bar for his peers: Bradley Cooper, whose passion project biopic of composer Leonard Bernstein will premiere at Venice, won’t be attending the festival in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA.

Technically, he could go as a director, because the Directors’ Guild is not on strike (and they look chumpier every day for it). But Cooper reportedly spoke to Alberto Barbera, head of the festival, about not attending in support of the strike, presuming it is still ongoing when Venice opens on August 30. Per Barbera, B Coop said that he really wants the movie to be in Venice but that he wouldn’t be able to attend given the [SAG-AFTRA] strike. He said he wouldn’t want to do that to SAG or his fellow actors.”


This, in contrast with former Arrow star Stephen Amell, who let everyone know who he is by admitting he doesn’t support the strike. Stephen walked back his comments but he was still participating on panels and promoting his new show. (In totally unrelated news, I am sure, Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim is hyping the Arrow reunion picket this coming Friday.) Maestro, the Bernstein biopic, has been a dream of Cooper’s for years, he’s finally realized it, and he’s forgoing the technicality that would let him promote it at Venice, the same festival that launched A Star Is Born on its way to an Oscar run in 2018. 

This is a major moment for Cooper, and while it sounds like he is feeling the conflict of having a huge professional opportunity come mid-strike, ultimately, he is standing with his union as an actor, supporting those who struggle to make ends meet in their industry. Some people have their priorities right, and other people are Stephen Amell.

Here is B Coop enjoying a day at Disneyland Paris with his daughter over the weekend.