On the eve of the premieres of two of the biggest films of the summer, "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer," the SAG-AFTRA union voted to go on strike, leaving the stars of those films with some of the last words from a Hollywood event until the picket lines start on Friday.
After an extension that pushed negotiations all the way up to the dual premieres of "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer," SAG-AFTRA ultimately voted to go on strike, effectively shuttering Hollywood. It also made the London premieres of those films among the last events in the industry.
"I very much am in support of all the unions and I’m a part of SAG, so I would absolutely stand by them," Margot Robbie told reporters in London at the premiere, before the official decision came down.
Her "Barbie" co-star Ryan Gosling echoed her sentiments, adding, "I will support the actors." Luckily -- or strategically -- for the studio, this Wednesday night event was the last major promotional pit-stop for the film before its July 21 premiere.
The "Oppenheimer" London premiere was in a far more precarious position. They actually bumped the premiere up by fifteen minutes in order to hopefully have more time with the film's stars before what appeared to be an imminent strike.
As such, the film's stars were able to talk about the pending strike literally minutes before it happened.
"I hope everyone makes a fair deal and we are here to celebrate this movie," Emily Blunt told Deadline before news of the strike came down. "And if they call it, we’ll be leaving together as cast in unity with everyone ... We are gonna have to. We are gonna have to. We will see what happens. Right now it’s the joy to be together."
Co-star Matt Damon also stood by the union, even as one of his own production company's films has been shut down. "If our leadership is saying that the deal isn’t fair, then we gotta hold strong until we get a deal that’s fair for working actors," he told Deadline. "It’s the difference between having healthcare and not for a lot of actors, and we gotta do what’s right by them."
#Oppenheimer star Matt Damon on SAG-AFTRA going on strike: “If our leadership is saying that the deal isn’t fair, then we gotta hold strong until we get a deal that’s fair for working actors. It’s the difference between having healthcare and not for a lot of actors, and we gotta… pic.twitter.com/wPjEKn9iSe
He also echoed Blunt's assertion that the actors would walk if a strike was called. "Look, if it’s called now, everyone’s going to walk obviously in solidarity," he told Variety. "Once the strike is officially called, [we're walking]. That's why we moved this up because we know the second it's called, we're going home."
True to her word, when word came down that the strike had been called, the actors exited the premiere before the screening. Blunt and Damon were joined in their exodus from the event by Florence Pugh, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, and others.
Director Christopher Nolan -- the DGA did come to terms with AMPTP earlier this month -- confirmed their departures before the film's screening. "Unfortunately, they're off to write their picket signs for what we believe to be an imminent strike by SAG, joining my guild -- one of my guilds -- the Writers Guild in the struggle for fair wages for working members of their union."
As per the rules laid out by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, the actors are not allowed to participate in industry events like premieres, press junkets, FYC events, and conventions. It is the first actors strike since 1980.
With this strike, which kicked off at midnight and will see the first picket lines forming on Friday morning, Hollywood is facing its first double-strike in more than 60 years, with SAG-AFTRA joining the WGA (Writers Guild of America) in a work stoppage. At that time, Ronald Reagan was head of the actors' union.
Drescher gave an impassioned and emotional speech in announcing the strike, saying the studios "stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment." She also accused them of pleading "poverty, that they are losing money left and right, while they give millions to their CEOs."
You can see her entire speech here, courtesy of CBS News.