Jessica Chastain Was Nervous to Attend Venice Film Festival During Strike

"There were actually some people on my team who advised me against it"

BY Ben OkazawaPublished Sep 8, 2023

Despite being granted an interim agreement to promote her new movie Memory at the Venice Film Festival this week, Jessica Chastain says she was apprehensive about the opportunity.

"I was very nervous about coming," she revealed at a press conference. "There were actually some people on my team who advised me against it."

She further explained her fear of speaking out, saying that actors' gratitude can be used against them by studio executives.

"It's a wonderful profession, what we have to do as actors. We are quite often, because of that, made to feel like we have to be quiet in order to protect future working opportunities," she said.

"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."

The Michel Franco-directed drama was one of a number of upcoming films to earn an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA, allowing its actors to appear at the festival due to the production companies' independence from the Hollywood giants that have been withholding funds from their writers and actors. 

Chastain continued her statement at the presser by expressing that her ongoing support for the guild was the only reason she attended the festival. 

"I am here because SAG-AFTRA has been explicitly clear that the way to support the strike is to post on social media, walk the picket line and to work and support interim agreement projects," she said. "It's what our national board, negotiating committee and our elected leadership has asked us to do."

"The independent producers, like the ones here, are letting the AMPTP know that actors deserve fair compensation, that AI protection should be implemented, and there should be sharing of streaming revenues," she continued. "I hope my being here today encourages other independent producers, and encourages actors to show up [at festivals] and support our union members. Hopefully we will see an end to the strike soon and hopefully AMPTP will go back to the table."

Other stars present at the Venice Film Festival thanks to SAG-AFTRA's interim agreements include Adam Driver, Mads Mikkelsen and Jacob Elordi. 

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