The Actors Have Been Unleashed! So What Now?


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Reports are that the airport lines all over the Mediterranean are packed. There’s a crisis shortage of private jets. Yachts engines are breaking down after speeding too fast across the Pacific. Plastic surgeons are fielding dozens of calls an hour from patients demanding to know how to make procedures look healed immediately.

After 118 days, the SAG-AFTRA strike is over, with a tentative deal reached between the union and the studios—may those Scrooge McDuck-ian bigwigs’ guilty consciences haunt them forever for making this last so long. As of Thursday—filming could once again resume. The actors have been unleashed.

I’m imagining the gates to the studio backlots opening and thousands of actors rushing through like it’s Black Friday at Wal-Mart in 2001. Or Los Angeles rattled by a deafening, unidentifiable buzzing noise from the cacophony made by all the returning thespians doing their enunciation vocal warm-ups all at once: “Rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers…” Here’s a live look at me as I watch my inbox pile up with pitches to interview talent, now able to promote their current work and all the projects over the last months that they weren’t able to talk about:

I am, of course, being glib. The absolute truth is that this is a monumental moment, a hard-fought and historic victory for labor rights that was won through great sacrifice. It’s easy to joke about major celebrities in relation to the strike and its conclusion, but the truth is that the work stoppage was in support of the journeyman union members whose livelihoods depended on terms secured by the new contract. And fighting for these gains hurt; it hurt everyone who was out work, whether actors or professionals in the sprawling web of industries who relied on film and TV production.

Everyone can take a breath now. Though only a quick one, because it is just that: time to get back to work.

The utter chaos there must be at the major publicity firms now that talent can promote their movies again, racing to get them booked, on TV, and in front of journalists. It’s a double firehose, too: Again, the goal now is to promote both upcoming projects and all the ones that premiered during the strike. (Shout out to the Broadway actors, podcasters, and reality TV stars who were booked on major talk shows all fall and were a delight, and who are now going to be unceremoniously bumped for the cast of The Marvels. Thank you for your service.)

While I’ve certainly missed the opportunity to talk to actors from some of my favorite projects about their work, or give a little smirk when a TV interview moment goes viral, it has (until now) been a fascinating time. What movies and series land when there is no actor-led charm offensive to generate buzz for it? And when it comes to award season, which is in full swing, what performances and films make a mark in a vacuum, when magazine cover stories, countless interviews, and “the machine” of it all aren’t a factor?

This is also new territory: playing catch-up. Cheekily, I wonder what actors, shows, and movies benefited because talent haven’t had the opportunity to put their feet in their mouths while talking about complicated issues? I’m also, however, ready for the actors I’ve been dying to hear from these past months—because their projects beg for spicy, complicated, star-making interviews—to finally hit the press trail again.

I don’t want to come off as pervy. However! These have been unbelievable times when it comes to brilliant, beautiful, nuanced, real, and absolutely horny-as-hell depictions of gay relationships, romance, and sex in pop culture. It’s been astonishing, really.

Bring back Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw from Passages, and Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez from Red, White & Royal Blue, for press immediately. Showtime, if I am not on a Zoom with Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer from Fellow Travelers in the next seven days, you will learn that The Ring was actually based on me. And, praise Gay God, because Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal will now be able to give us the steamy Oscar campaign their award-worthy work in All of Us Strangers deserves.

Yes, some of these actors did advanced press in anticipation of a strike. But we’ve now seen the things! We’ve reacted to the things! We’ve pulled up scenes from the things late at night while alone! It’s time for more discourse.

I am very excited for the people who have delivered brilliant performances to take their victory laps as well. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, this your time to shine for breaking my heart into a million pieces in The Holdovers. Book those interviews and nab that Oscar nod. Get the Theater Camp cast out here and on the talk-show circuit they (and we) deserve. Carey Mulligan, let’s dig into that Maestro accent(s)! And on the flip side: Nicholas Braun, defend Cat Person!

This happened in the nick of time, because I truly can’t imagine this award season without hearing from Annette Bening talking about just how much she swam to prepare for Nyad. Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore are about to open a movie in which Portman plays an actress shadowing Moore, a teacher who married the student she controversially had an affair with, Mary Kay Letourneau-stye. Imagine not having a press tour for that.

Then there’s Emma Stone in Poor Things and Barry Keoghan in Saltburn. I fear that people would not properly understand how wild these films and performances are—in the best, we-should-all-be-talking-about-it way—if these actors weren’t properly publicizing them.

And it’s TV, too! The cast of Reservation Dogs deserves a redo, after their finale aired during the strike. Have you heard about what’s happening on Gen V? We need to talk about it! Get me Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon in a Gilded Age promo shoot immediately.

And, most pressing, we need Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon to answer some questions.

On Season 3 of The Morning Show, they sent Witherspoon to space. And that was just the first episode! There also was a restaging of the insurrection, Jon Hamm played a version of Elon Musk, and there was one of the weirdest post-coital scenes I’ve ever watched. Aniston was lying on top of Jon Hamm, crotch to bum, as if that’s how humans lounge after doing it. If you know, you know, because it’s been seared into your brain and is the image that you see each time you close your eyes. (Just blinked and shuddered again.) The world needs to talk about this.

It’s going to be an interesting time, as the rush for press and promotion launches like one of those scary roller coasters at amusement parks, or a rocket on The Morning Show inexplicably blasting TV anchors into space. I’m already strapped in.

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