Stephen Amell attempts to clarify SAG-AFTRA strike comments in new statement

SAG-AFTRA  Stephen Amell arrives at the premiere of

‘Arrow’ and ‘Heels’ actor Stephen Amell is one of the first actors to speak out against the SAG-AFTRA strike. “I support my union,” he said over the weekend, “but I do not support striking.” (Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Stephen Amell ruffled feathers with his comments criticizing the SAG-AFTRA strike — and now he’s clarifying his thoughts in a new statement.

On Saturday, the Arrow alum attended Raleigh’s GalaxyCon and expressed his frustration over the strike, which has impacted the promotion of his Starz show, Heels, which premiered it’s second season on Friday.

“I feel like I’m insulated in Hollywood because that’s where I live,” he began. “I feel like a lot of people in this room aren’t aware of the strike. I support my union, I do, and I stand with them. I do not support striking. I don’t.”

He continued, “I think that it is a reductive negotiating tactic, and I find the entire thing incredibly frustrating. I think that the thinking as it pertains to shows — like this show [Heels] that I’m on that premiered last night — I think it is myopic, and I stand with my union.”

Amell — one of the first actors to speak out against the strike — has since attempted to clarify his “misinterpreted” comments in a lengthy social media post on Tuesday.

In it, Amell said his support of his union “is unconditional and I stand with them.” Despite saying he didn’t support striking, he now says his “off the cuff” comment is “contradictory to my true feelings.” Instead, he said he doesn’t “like striking,” but added “we have to do what we have to do.”

Amell said he had been “speaking extemporaneously for over an hour” when he made the comments in the now-viral sound bite. Now, he realizes the issues aren’t simple and the union leadership “has an incredibly complicated job,” which he is “grateful to them for. That said, he’s “not a robot” and he finds the strike “emotionally frustrating on many levels.”

While he admitted parts his comments were “inarticulate,” he said it was coming from a place of being “sad that we don’t have a chance to celebrate a show that all of us figuratively and I literally, broke my back for.” (The actor, who plays an amateur wrestler in Heels, broke his back while performing a stunt for the show in 2020.)

Amell concluded: “This situation reminds of the proverb, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions,’ which apparently, after reading a limited amount of the commentary, is a place many of you would like me to visit. However, at least for the foreseeable future, I choose to stand with my union. When you see me on a picket line please don’t whip any hard fruit.”

A rep for Amell not yet responded to Yahoo’s request for comment.

Since his comments went viral, Amell his been criticized, including by Arrow’s Kirk Acevedo, who played Ricardo Diaz (aka The Dragon) toward the end of the show’s run. “This f***ing guy,” Acevedo wrote on social media, with two middle finger emojis.

Matt Letscher, who appeared on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, also reacted, though didn’t mention Amell by name. “Still waiting on that comprehensive list of totally non-reductive negotiating tactics we get to employ now,” Letscher posted on social media. “Thank god for superheroes! Any second now….”

The Hollywood’s actors union — representing more than than 160,000 actors and others in the entertainment industry — called a strike on July 14 after failed contract negotiations with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). As a result, the production of countless movies and TV shows has been halted and union actors are not supposed to do promotion — appearances, panels, fan meet and greets — for companies the union is striking against.

Ahead of Raleigh GalaxyCon, organizers said they were in contact with SAG-AFTRA lawyers and made changes to the event based on their guidance. They said it was OK for actors to attend the event because GalaxyCon is not a “struck” company and the talent was appearing independent of struck companies. Actors weren’t allowed to discuss struck projects while on panels, but autographs and photo ops were still allowed with some modifications. (Nonetheless, actress Kate Mulgrew cancelled her appearance at the event.)

According to USA Today, Amell’s appearance does not seem to be in violation of the strike terms. That’s because actors are allowed to take general questions about their life and career as a whole. Amell has other fan events scheduled — this weekend at Fan Expo in Boston as well as GalaxyCon in Austin in September.

SAG-AFTRA is seeking better compensation for streaming, which has boomed in recent years. There are also concerns about artificial intelligence. Fran Drescher, who is president of SAG-AFTRA, said on Tuesday that the union is prepared to strike for at least six months.

“We have financially prepared ourselves for the next six months,” she said on Today. “And we’re really in it to win it.”

The Writers Guild of America is also on strike, since May.

Amell’s Starz show premiered its second season on Friday. It is a wresting drama centering on his character, Jack, and Jack’s brother/rival, Ace, played by Alexander Ludwig.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Aug. 1, 2023, at 11:59 a.m. and has been updated to include Amell’s latest comments.

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