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Bryan Cranston's inspiring speech sparks hope at the SAG-AFTRA strike with a message to Disney CEO

The actor firmly expressed that they would not allow jobs to be taken away and given to robots, and they refused to let their dignity be compromised.

Bryan Cranston's inspiring speech sparks hope at the SAG-AFTRA strike with a message to Disney CEO
Cover Image Source: Bryan Cranston speaks as SAG-AFTRA members hold a "Rock The City For A Fair Contract" rally in Times Square on July 25, 2023, in New York City—Getty Images | Roy Rochlin

Bryan Cranston delivered a rousing speech at the Rock the City for a Fair Contract SAG-AFTRA rally in Times Square addressing concerns over AI, dwindling residuals from streamers and the potential lack of future jobs. The fiery speech also included a message directed at Disney head Bob Iger. “We’ve got a message for Mr. Iger,” the 67-year-old actor said. “I know, sir, that you look [at] things through a different lens. We don’t expect you to understand who we are. But we ask you to hear us, and beyond that to listen to us when we tell you we will not be having our jobs taken away and given to robots. We will not have you take away our right to work and earn a decent living. And lastly, and most importantly, we will not allow you to take away our dignity! We are union through and through, all the way to the end!”

Bryan Cranston attends the opening night of
Image Source: Bryan Cranston attends the opening night of "Hangmen" on Broadway at Golden Theatre on April 21, 2022, in New York City—Getty Images | Jason Mendez

According to Variety, Cranston said that both sides agree that the industry has “changed exponentially” and that “we are not in the same business model we were even 10 years ago,” he said. “And yet, even though they admit that is the truth in today’s economy, they are fighting us tooth and nail to stick to the same economic system that is outmoded, outdated! They want us to step back in time. We cannot and we will not do that.”


Cranston was one of several A-listers who spoke out amid the strike. Others included Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater and Christine Baranski. “Because of SAG, because of real people who worked to help our members, my father was able to die with an amount of dignity that he would not have otherwise had. He lived as long as he did because of SAG,” Slater told the audience, per My Modern Met. "The Bear" actress Liza Colón-Zayas, added, “I struggled for 30 years to finally get here, only to find that my residuals have dwindled exponentially.”


Bob Iger has been criticized after his now-infamous July 13 interview with CNBC from Sun Valley Conference in Idaho according to Variety. Speaking of the Writers Guild of America strike and the decision for SAG-AFTRA to join them, he said, “It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption. I understand any labor organization’s desire to work on behalf of its members to get the most compensation and be compensated fairly based on the value that they deliver."


"We managed, as an industry, to negotiate a very good deal with the directors guild that reflects the value that the directors contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers, and we’d like to do the same thing with the actors. There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”


While the Disney Chief said he respects the right of the unions to “get as much as they possibly can in compensation for their people,” they must “be realistic about the business environment, and what this business can deliver.” The 72-year-old added, “It will have a very, very damaging effect on the whole business, and unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are supportive services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame, it is really a shame.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, days after the interview, SAG-AFTRA’s Fran Drescher responded by saying, “There he is sitting in his designer clothes, just got off his private jet at the billionaires’ camp, telling us we’re unrealistic,” she said. “How do you deal with someone like that who’s so tone-deaf? Are you an ignoramus?”

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