Jessica Chastain Was “Nervous” to Attend Venice Film Festival Amid Strikes, But Wanted to Show Support for SAG-AFTRA

Hollywood Gossip
3 min readSep 8, 2023

The star wore a T-shirt saying “SAG-AFTRA on strike” to the Venice press conference of ‘Memory,’ which co-stars Peter Sarsgaard and was directed by Mexican auteur Michel Franco.

BY PATRICK BRZESKI, ALEX RITMAN, SEPTEMBER 8, 2023

Peter Sarsgaard and Jessica Chastain in ‘Memory’ VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

Directed by Mexican auteur Michel Franco, Memory stars Chastain as Sylvia, a social worker who lives a simple life structured around her daughter, her job and her AA meetings. Her routines are disrupted, however, when Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) follows her home from their high school reunion. Their encounter profoundly impacts both of them as they open the door to the past.

Chastain and Sarsgaard are on the exceedingly short list of Hollywood stars touching down in Venice this year due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA. Like Adam Driver, who appeared early in the festival to support Michael Mann’s Ferrari, Chastain and Sarsgaard received interim waivers from SAG-AFTRA, which are being made available to union members involved in qualifying independent films that will be released outside of the studio system.

Speaking about being in Venice against the background of the strikes, Chastain admitted she was “incredibly nervous” to attend, adding that “some people on my team advised me against it.”

But she said that she was here to support SAG-AFTRA and follow its clear directive, while sending a message to the AMPTP.

“I’m very aware of how lucky I am. 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. 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,” she said.

“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 and our elected leadership has asked us to do. And when independent producers like the ones here sign these interim agreements, they are letting the world know and letting the AMPTP know that actors deserve a fair compensation, that AI protections should be implemented and there should be sharing of streaming revenue.”

Chastain concluded: “So I hope being here today encourages other independent producers and encourages actors to show up and support our union members. And hopefully we’ll see an end to this strike soon. And hopefully the AMPTP will go back to the table.”

The star wore a T-shirt saying “SAG-AFTRA on strike” to the press conference.

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