Sarah Silverman slams actors filming waiver projects amid SAG-AFTRA strike

Sarah Silverman has slammed several of her Hollywood peers filming independent, SAG-AFTRA–cleared projects amid strikes involving industry writers and actors.

Though the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes have halted almost all major studio productions as workers seek new contract agreements in the era of streaming, 45 “truly independent” movies and TV shows starring talent like Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Ortega, and Paul Rudd have been granted strike exemptions under the “Interim Agreement,” and Silverman isn’t very happy about it.

“I feel f—ing pissed off, and I know I just must not be understanding something,” Silverman said in the three-minute clip shared late Thursday. “There are like 40 movies being made right now. Movie stars are making movies because they’re independent movies, and SAG is allowing it because if they do sell it to streaming, it has to be because streaming is abiding by all the things we’re asking for.”

She continued, “That’s just working. The strike ends when they come to the table and we make a deal in agreement. So you’re just letting people make movies, and movie stars are making movies that you know the goal is to sell them to streaming.”

Silverman called working under those conditions “the end of the strike,” which she predicted would now be “exponentially prolonged, because they have movie stars making movies” that she suspects will be released to streaming in the future.

“When SAG joined the strike, it’s, ‘Movie stars aren’t making movies for you anymore, now what are you going to do?’ Well, they’re making movies. What the f—?” the 52-year-old Emmy winner said. “I got offered an indie movie, I f—ing said no, and so did a bunch of my friends, and now some of my friends are saying yes. I’m really pissed. Please, explain to me why I shouldn’t be angry, because people are making real-deal sacrifices. People, writers, actors, crew people, all these people are sacrificing their livelihood for this cause. It’s called union strong, where we are all together. And when SAG joined the strike, we should see every movie star out there striking along, because you have insurance because of your union and you get residuals because of your union. All of these things you get because of your union and you can’t stand with your union?”

She finished by noting that she doesn’t know if she should be “mad at these movie stars making these indie movies that are obviously going to go to streaming” or angry with “SAG for making this interim deal for these indie movies” during the strike.

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman

| Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

“It’s scabbing —you’ve made that so clear that it’s scabbing,” she concluded. “Now, all of a sudden movie stars can make movies if they’re indie movies where they promise they’ll only sell it if X, Y, and Z. That’s called the end of the strike, motherf—ers!”

Representatives for several actors working on SAG-AFTRA–cleared projects did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment on Silverman’s video.

Though Amy Sedaris responded with a “right on” in the comments section of the clip, Yellowjackets actress Juliette Lewis and New Girl star Zooey Deschanel pushed back against Silverman’s stance.

“I think we are striking certain particular contractual agreements with the AMPTP — not all work,” Deschanel said.

Lewis added: “Also, my brother, who is a laborer — I would love him to work on an independent production. Bunch of my friends in other states have had their unemployment checks run out, so if there’s movie productions that are not going to streamers I’m for it for my crew and family.”

Sarah Silverman on strike

Sarah Silverman on strike

| Credit: Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

Following her rant, Silverman met with Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the union’s lead negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, to discuss the logic behind the waivers. She then posted a second video, talking through the complexities of the issue.

“So from the SAG leadership’s perspective, this shows the AMPTP, it proves to them that what we’re asking for is not unreasonable and can be done and in fact is being done,” Silverman said. “And it forces them to either participate in it if they want the product — the film or the TV show — or, as Fran says, maybe these indie productions find new avenues, new partners, new places, and that’s beautiful.”

But while she acknowledged the other side of the argument, Silverman maintained her original position. “I love a dreamer. And I hope I’m being cynical, but from the other perspective, it feels like some people are being allowed to make TV and movies — some  truly independent stuff and some total bullshit with a real stink of loophole, in my opinion.”

She added, “These projects will be shot and edited and in the can and ready to go with a bow on it for when the strike is over. They’ll be ready to sell to streamers, albeit at our new deal rates, and I think that feels s—-y to some people because they’ve been asked to sacrifice so much all under the [premise] that ‘Hey, we’re all in this together and it only works if we’re all in this together.'”

Silverman noted that while she is happy for the crew members who get the opportunity to work on the waived projects, she thinks a work stoppage is crucial for actors. “That’s our power,” she explained. She finished by encouraging unity overall, adding that she will agree to disagree.

“Whatever side of this particular issue you fall on, we can’t let disagreements weaken our resolve,” Silverman said. “So we need to take our pointing, accusing fingers — I’ll take mine first — and move them firmly to the AMPTP together. Union strong, baby.”

Projects that have been granted strike exemptions include Hathaway’s Mother Mary; McConaughey’s The Rivals of Amziah King (EW has learned he wrapped his portions of filming before the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike); Rudd and Ortega’s Death of a UnicornMel Gibson‘s Flight Risk, co-starring Mark Wahlberg; and The Killer’s Game, featuring Sofia Boutella, Scott Adkins, Dave BautistaBen Kingsley, and Ice Cube.

This story has been updated to include Silverman’s remarks after meeting with Drescher and Crabtree-Ireland.

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