Jessica Chastain ‘nervous’ to attend Venice Film Festival amid Hollywood strikes

Jessica Chastain stars in Memory (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Jessica Chastain stars in Memory (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Jessica Chastain has spoken of her “nervousness” at attending the Venice Film Festival amid the Hollywood actor strikes.

The 46-year-old Oscar-winning actress is backing the industrial action by US actors union Sag-Aftra who are in a disagreement with studio bosses.

Since the beginning of the strike, some independent productions have been granted interim agreements to allow them to resume filming and promotions, which allowed Chastain to attend the festival in Italy.

Speaking at a press conference for her new movie Memory on Friday, Chastain said: “I was incredibly nervous to be here today (at Venice)… and actually there are some people on my team who advised me against it.

“I’m very lucky… It’s a wonderful profession what we get to do as actors and we are quite often, because of that, made to feel like we have to be quiet in order to protect future working opportunities, and we are often told and reminded how grateful we should be.

“And that is the environment that I think has allowed workplace abuse to go unchecked for many decades and is also the environment that has saddled members of our union with unfair contracts.”

“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 lines and to work and support interim agreement projects.

“It’s what our national board, our negotiating committee and our elected leadership has asked us to do.

“When independent producers, like the ones here, sign these interim agreements… they are letting the (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) AMPTP know that actors deserve fair compensation, AI protections should be implemented, and there should be sharing of streaming (revenues).

“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 this strike soon and hopefully AMPTP will go back to the table.”

This follows Adam Driver telling the same event he was in “solidarity” with the strike before the premiere of Ferrari at the festival, while criticising streaming companies.

He said: “Why is it that a smaller distribution company like Neon and STX International can meet the dream demands of what (Sag-Aftra) is asking for… but a big company like Netflix and Amazon can’t?”

Actors began industrial action after failing to negotiate new contracts with the AMPTP, over issues of fair pay and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in films.

The 2023 Sag-Aftra strike, which began in July, has meant the absence of several stars at festivals and film premieres along with the delay of awards ceremonies.

On Friday, the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain announced that Spanish actor and No Country For Old Men star Javier Bardem will accept its Donostia Award next year due to the strike.

However, the festival did confirm that French actress Juliette Binoche and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen alongside British actors James Norton and Dominic West would attend its event.