As Sarah noted the other day in her post about Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s historic donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, major movie stars have largely stayed away from the picket lines – intentionally. The big name celebrities, she wrote, are a distraction. There’s already so much misinformation about this work stoppage being about “rich people getting richer” – and that is NOT the case, because on the SAG side, this strike is for the 87% of membership who don’t meet the $26,000 threshold to qualify for insurance, and the 95% of actors who don’t work regularly.
So there’s no sense in having the top tier being photographed because the studios will just use that to their advantage and misdirect it to amplify their position which obviously won’t help the actors or the writers.
Instead, Sarah noted, there’s a “sweet spot” of actors who will be more effective as front-facing representatives of the union. She cited Bob Odenkirk and Quinta Brunson and Timothy Olyphant – they are famous but not Tom Cruise or Will Smith or Scarlett Johansson or George Clooney levels of famous. They’re people who work steadily so there’s recognition but aren’t considered superstars, brands unto themselves. And people who have had to hustle for a long time to get to a certain place in their careers; in other words, people who 100% have experienced what the struggling actors are going through.
We’ve seen others in that “sweet spot” show up at the rallies over the last few days. Sam Richardson was out there yesterday with Timothy Simons and Sufe Bradshaw for a Veep reunion. Sarah Paulson and Elizabeth Reaser were outside Netflix yesterday.
And over in New York, Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, and Bryan Cranston were in Times Square. Bryan Cranston is absolutely what Sarah was talking about when she called it a “sweet spot”. He’s so well-respected, he’s a leader, he’s trusted, the public knows him, but his celebrity hasn’t approached mythology. Bryan was on the mic yesterday speaking directly to Bob Iger:
Bryan Cranston delivers a rousing speech addressed to Bob Iger at a SAG-AFTRA strike rally in Times Square: "We will not allow you to take our dignity. We are union through and through all the way to the end." https://t.co/M0Cs5ahWZo pic.twitter.com/IILje2O5Fi— Variety (@Variety) July 25, 2023
Today it was Julianne Moore on the picket lines. Julianne has an Oscar, for sure. She won her Oscar for her work in an independent film, Still Alice. She’s cast in a lot of independent films. She started off in soap operas. Julianne Moore is famous but she’s not like box office famous and certainly not box office rich. Having people like Bryan and Julianne come out are exactly the strategy, at least for now.