Jessica Chastain: 'Actors silenced over abuse, unfair contracts'
September 8, 2023 08:31 PM
Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain offered impassioned support for ongoing Hollywood strikes as she appeared in Venice to promote her new film "Memory" on Friday.
Many stars have cancelled their appearances at the Venice Film Festival due to the strikes -- primarily over pay in the streaming era and fears over the use of AI.
Chastain was able to appear because her film was made outside the studio system, but she admitted to being "incredibly nervous" about coming and that members of her team had advised against it.
"It's a wonderful profession we get to do as actors and quite often, because of that, we are made to feel we have to be quiet in order to protect future working opportunities," she told reporters, wearing a T-shirt supporting the unions.
But she added: "That is the environment that I think has allowed workplace abuse to go unchecked for many decades and it's also the environment that has saddled members of my union with unfair contracts."
Writers and actors, represented by the SAG-AFTRA unions, have brought Hollywood to a standstill with their weeks-long strike.
Independent films have been given special exemptions from the strike under "interim agreements" and Chastain said members were explicitly encouraged to speak out publicly.
"When independent producers like the ones here sign these interim agreements, they are letting the world know, letting the (studios) know that actors deserve fair compensation, that AI protections should be implemented and that there should be sharing of streaming revenue," Chastain said.
Adam Driver also attended the Venice festival last week to promote "Ferrari", an independent film by Michael Mann.
"Why is it that a smaller distribution company like Neon and STX International (which funded 'Ferrari') can meet the dream demands of what SAG is asking for... when a big company like Netflix and Amazon can't?" he said.
"Memory", which features Chastain as a recovering alcoholic with a troubled past, is the last of 23 films in competition in Venice, which concludes with the awards ceremony on Saturday.