Zoe Saldana says there is

Actress Zoe Saldana has told Sky News there is “fear” and “doubt” in the industry amid strikes, and she is worried about actors who need to work “for their families, and have to pay their mortgages”.

The Hollywood star, who is best known for portraying Neytiri in Avatar, Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Uhura in Star Trek, and is soon to appear in new spy thriller series Special Ops: Lioness, spoke to our Backstage podcast team the day before the walk-out was confirmed.

After our interview, the premiere for the show was cancelled due to industrial action, according to reports.

SAG-AFTRA actors and Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers walk the picket line in front of Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Blake

“At the end of the day, I don’t believe that organisations would be striking if they felt that there was a fairness in the game of the business that they’re in,” Saldana said.

“I hope that everybody comes together and reaches resolutions that seem fair for all parties involved because at the end of the day, 80% of the members of our union live day-to-day, live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, and they can’t really afford to sustain a strike… so that’s where my heart is.”

Hollywood actors have been on strike since 13 July after talks with studios broke down over higher pay and safeguards against unauthorised use of their images through artificial intelligence (AI).

The strike, organised by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), is likely to have far-reaching reverberations beyond Los Angeles as production has shut down on a number of films and TV shows.

About 160,000 SAG- AFTRA members have stopped work, while 15,000 screenwriters, who are members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), have also been on strike since 2 May.

Since the SAG-AFTRA strike officially began, numerous famous faces have been spotted on picket lines, including Jason Sudeikis, Susan Sarandon and Mandy Moore.

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Brian Cox: ‘Strikes may get unpleasant’

Succession star Brian Cox is also among those speaking out, telling Sky News the strike could get “very unpleasant” and may not be resolved until the end of the year.

Although Saldana is in a position that doesn’t leave her financially struggling during strike action, she said it was important to show solidarity. “It doesn’t mean that I should not be an active member of my organisation,” she said, adding that she is hoping for a swift resolution.

Saldana has been linked to some of the largest film franchises in the world over the past decade, from Avatar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Created by Taylor Sheridan, the filmmaker behind Yellowstone and 1923, Special Ops: Lioness centres on an elite military unit of female operatives who go undercover to befriend the wives and girlfriends of targets in the war on terror.

Read more:

Oppenheimer stars walk out of premiere as strikes announced

Why are Hollywood stars walking out?

All the shows and films affected by strikes

Saldana says she initially turned down the role of lead recruiter Joe – a decision based on “fear and insecurity”.

Saldana continues: “I mean, fear can be paralysing and for like a year I did feel paralysed. And, you know, English is not my first language. I’m not a trained actor.

“I love science fiction, but I felt like I had gotten lost in all of these franchises and there was still this undying desire to continue to grow as an artist and and push myself further. And so being a part of Lioness was a testament to that.”

Special Ops: Lioness, which also stars Laysla De Oliveira, Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Kelly, is available to stream on Paramount Plus from 23rd July

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