Ryan Reynolds, Mandy Moore Call Out SAG-AFTRA For Halloween Costume Ban

Since July 14, Hollywood’s striking actors have stood in solidarity as its union pushed through contract negotiations with major studios and streamers. A crack in that unity appeared this weekend, but it wasn’t caused by any maneuvers by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Instead, actors openly mocked the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) after it offered guidance on what Halloween costumes its members should wear. The response was fast, and furious.

Of course, that’s meant only figuratively, as dressing up like any member of the Toretto family would violate the rules. According to SAG-AFTRA strike guidance released Wednesday, members should dress up as “characters from non-struck content” or as “generalized characters and figures (ghost, zombie, spider, etc).” Therefore, as struck studio Universal Pictures owns The Fast and Furious universe, Dom’s greasy tank and dirty work pants are off the table.

While the strike’s other rules around promotions of struck material and the like have been supported by all but its loosest-lipped members, this guidance apparently went too far. Melissa Gilbert, the longtime actor who led the union from 2001-2005, was the first to speak out. 

“THIS is what you guys come up with?” Gilbert asked in an Instagram post. “Literally, no one cares what anyone wears for Halloween.”

“I mean, do you really think this kind of infantile stuff is going to end the strike? We look like a joke. Please tell me you’re going to make this rule go away… and go negotiate!

Tagging current SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher twice, Gilbert continued. “For the love of God, people are suffering mightily, and this is what you have to say… c’mon guys…This is the kind of silly bullshit that keeps us on strike. ‘Let’s enact a policy that makes us look petty and incompetent at the same time.’”

Giving lie to Gilbert’s assertion that “no one cares” about Halloween costumes, in a since-expired Instagram story, actress and musician Mandy Moore asked, “Is this a joke?” 

“Come on @sagaftra. This is what’s important? We’re asking you to negotiate in good faith on our behalf,” she continued. “So many folks across every aspect of this industry have been sacrificing mightily for months. Get back to the table and get a fair deal so everyone can get back to work.”

Via X (formerly Twitter), Ryan Reynolds was more succinct, but no less cutting. “I look forward to screaming ‘scab’ at my 8-year-old all night,” he tweeted, referring to the derisive term used for those who violate strike rules. “She’s not in the union, but she needs to learn.”

Despite the uproar from its members, the union is standing firm. “SAG-AFTRA issued Halloween guidance in response to questions from content creators and members about how to support the strike during this festive season,” a union spokesperson said in a statement reported by Variety. “This was meant to help them avoid promoting struck work, and it is the latest in a series of guidelines we have issued.”

“It does not apply to anyone’s kids,” the spokesperson said. But the guidance suggests that if an actor’s kids dress up in struck garb, their parents better keep the costumes offline, as members shouldn’t “post costumes inspired by struck content to social media.” That’s because “social media photos of costumes inspired by content covered by the strike could be considered publicity work,” the New York Times reports.

Responding to criticism that the Halloween rules would impede negotiation, the SAG-AFTRA statement also noted, “We are on strike for important reasons, and have been for nearly 100 days. Our number one priority remains getting the studios back to the negotiating table so we can get a fair deal for our members, and finally put our industry back to work.”

But one striking actor wonders if there’s something more sinister at play here, a seasonally appropriate level of dread regarding moves just beneath the surface. “There’s something in me that just not buying this,” actor Steven Weber wrote in the comments to Gilbert’s incensed post. “It’s too petty, too weak. And of course the AMPTP will amplify this. Not buying it.”

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