Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence among Hollywood stars poised to join actors strike

Hollywood's writers have been on strike for months and soon actors might be too, Cari Davies reports

Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and hundreds more top Hollywood talent are poised to strike after a deadline to reach a deal with studios and streaming services passed.

The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union, which has more than 160,000 members, had set a deadline for 11.59pm on Wednesday for a deal to be agreed.

Just after midnight on Thursday - and on the same day the Hollywood sign celebrates its 100th anniversary - there was no sign of a deal.

More than 300 stars, including Streep, Lawrence, Kevin Bacon and Mark Ruffalo, have signed a letter signaling to SAG-AFTRA leadership that they are "prepared to strike."

An actors strike would prevent performers from working on sets or promoting their projects in the press.

Actors Tina Fey and Fred Armisen join the writers strike. Credit: AP

This means that whether the cast of Christopher Nolan's highly-anticipated Oppenheimer attends Thursday's London premiere hangs in the balance.

If the actors do strike, they will formally join screenwriters on the picket lines outside studios and filming locations in a bid to get better terms from studios and streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

It would be the first time since 1960 that the two guilds are on strike at the same time.

Members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike since early May, slowing production on film and television series on both coasts.

The cast of Oppenheimer, including Britons Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh, walked out of its London premiere in solidarity with the strike. Credit: AP

Issues in negotiations include the unregulated use of artificial intelligence and effects on residual pay brought on by the streaming ecosystem that has emerged in recent years.

Actors, including SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, have joined writers on picket lines for weeks in solidarity.

However The Nanny sitcom star came under fire this week for deciding to attend Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda festivities in Italy while her union braces for industrial action.

Attending a photo event on Wednesday, Oppenheimer star Matt Damon said that while everyone was hoping a strike could be averted, many actors need a fair contract to survive.

"We ought to protect the people who are kind of on the margins," Damon told The Associated Press.

"And 26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance.

"And there are a lot of people whose residual payments are what carry them across that threshold.

"And if those residual payments dry up, so does their health care... And that’s absolutely unacceptable.

"We can’t have that. So, we got to figure out something that is fair."

The looming strike has also cast a shadow over the upcoming 75th Emmys.

Nominations were announced on Wednesday - though industrial action was on the mind of many nominees.

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