Why Adam Driver and Patrick Dempsey are attending the Venice Film Festival amid Hollywood strikes

Adam Driver stars in the titular role of Enzo Ferrari in Ferrari this December. Credit: AP

By Lily Ford, ITV News Multimedia Producer

There's not yet light at the end of the tunnel for Hollywood amid its ongoing actors' strike.

The industrial action has put a pause on projects across the entertainment industry while workers are left to fend for themselves in a stand-off with major streaming services and production houses over pay and the use of AI.

The rules, so far, have been strict - no on-camera work, no red carpets, no social media promotion, no award show attendances.

The Oppenheimer cast and crew, including Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, and Robert Downey Jr., left halfway through the film's London premiere just as the strike was called.

Luca Guadagnino's Challengers, starring Zendaya and set to headline this year's Venice Film Festival, was pulled only recently because of the strike.

So why are some stars, such as Adam Driver, Mads Mikkelsen, and Patrick Dempsey, allowed to grace the red carpet in Italy?

The 'interim agreements'

Technically, certain deals have been agreed to.

Some independent films and television productions are still filming and promoting their work after reaching agreements with the actor's union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

But actors are still striking against studios and streaming services that bargain as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which happens to cover an enormous chunk of the productions in Hollywood.

The group's ranks include the major film studios like Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros, television networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, and streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon.

Patrick Dempsey (left), Michael Mann, and Driver grace the red carpet in Venice. Credit: AP

It's a move that the union leadership says is an essential negotiating tactic.

But it's also proved divisive and confusing to many still on the picket lines while film stars like Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey continue to work (McConaughey has been allowed to work on his thriller The Rivals of the Amziah King, and Hathaway on popstar movie Mother Mary).

Adam Driver and Patrick Dempsey were working in Venice to promote Michael Mann's biographic sports thriller, Ferrari, set to release in December.

The film, crucially, is not affiliated with the AMPTP, thus the cast and crew are allowed to attend.

Driver even took aim at the bigger streaming services at a press conference on Thursday.

"Why is it that a smaller distribution company like (Ferrari's) 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?"

The Oscar-nominated actor, who said he stands "in solidarity" with those striking, added that when independent producers and distributors agree to the union's terms, it "just makes it more obvious that these people are willing to support the people they collaborate with, and the others are not."

Who else is set to appear at this year's Venice Film Festival?

It's normally the height of Hollywood glamour for the industry's biggest names, but concerns have been raised over who is actually going to make it in 2023.

A myriad of genre-defining films are set to debut - David Fincher's The Killer starring Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper's Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, and Emma Stone's return to the silver screen as the protagonist in Yorgos Lanthimos' Poor Things.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen poses for photographers at a photo call for The Promised Land. Credit: AP

But the talent are unlikely to attend.

It does mean, however, that cast members from Venice's independently-produced, non-AMPTP line-up could make an appearance.

This includes Sofia Coppola's Priscilla, starring Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny, and Saverio Costanzo's Finally Dawn, featuring Lily James and Willem Dafoe.

Whether the all-important, strike-ending deal can be struck remains to be seen, but more than 200 productions have been approved so far under the interim agreements - perhaps evidence that things are moving in the right direction.

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