Arrow's Stephen Amell Raises Eyebrows With Controversial Comments About "Myopic" Actors Strike

Arrow star Stephen Amell recently spoke out against the SAG-AFTRA strike after being unable to promote his show Heels, making him one of the few actors to publicly criticize the move.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Aug 01, 2023 2:34 PMTags
Watch: Stephen Amell Speaks Out After Being SLAMMED for Actors Strike Comments

Fans don't think these comments were a bullseye. 

Stephen Amell recently criticized the actors strike, which was officially called on July 13 after Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) failed to reach a deal with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). And while nearly 98 percent of the union's members voted in favor of the work stoppage, the Arrow actor suggested he's not among them. And his chief complaint? Strike rules that forbid him from talking about his TV show.

"I support my union, I do, and I stand with them," Stephen said while appearing at Galaxycon in Raleigh, NC on July 29. "I do not support striking. I think that it is a reductive negotiating tactic, and I find the entire thing incredibly frustrating. And I think that the thinking as it pertains to shows, like shows I'm on that premiered last night, I think that it is myopic."

According to the SAG-AFTRA rules, actors aren't able to promote work on social media or in interviews and they're forbidden from attending film festivals, premieres and award shows. This means Stephen, who stars alongside Alexander Ludwig in Heels, has been unable to promote season two of the STARZ series, which premiered July 29.

Stars on the Picket Line for SAG-AFTRA Strike 2023

But as the actor's comments began circulating, they were met with criticism online from fans, many of whom called out his hypocrisy by noting some of the demands the guild is calling for revolve around members making living wages and health care.

"I love that stephen amell (who makes enough money to qualify for healthcare and be able to pay for basic necessities)," one user wrote on Twitter, alongside a clip of Stephen's comments in Raleigh, "finds the strikes 'frustrating.'"

Another tweeted a clip from Spongebob in which Squidward says, "I was just kidding! Come on, you guys know I was just kidding," with the caption: "Stephen Amell when the SAG strike ends and he has to see all his costars back on set."

Phillip Faraone/WireImage

E! News has reached out to Stephen's reps for comment but has not heard back.  

Amid the backlash, Stephen has taken a moment to clarify his statements in an August 1 post on his Instagram.

Regarding his statement, "I don't support striking," he writes, "What this means in full context: I understand fundamentally why we're here. My off the cuff use of the word ‘support' is clearly contradictory to my true feelings and my emphatic statement that I stand with my union."

He continued, "I certainly don't think these issues are simple. Our leadership has an incredibly complicated job and I am grateful for all that they do. Despite some of my terrible early acting work, I assure you, I'm not a robot. From an intellectual perspective, I understand why we are striking, but that doesn't mean it isn't emotionally frustrating on many levels for all involved."

But despite his frustrations with the strike, he finished with, "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.

Rob Latour/Shutterstock

The SAG-AFTRA strike marks the first time the union has voted to go on strike since 1980. They've joined the Writers Guild of America, who have been on strike since May 2 after failing to reach their own deal with the AMPTP, on the picket lines. 

Guild president Fran Drescher explained the union's motivations behind a strike.

"SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs," the Nanny alum said in a statement after the strike was called in July, "but the AMPTP's responses to the union's most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us."

And during a press conference that day, she added, "It came with great sadness that we came to this crossroads, but we have no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a greedy entity. The gravity of this move is not lost on me, but at some point, you have to say no. We're not going to take this anymore."

For more comments from celebrities regarding the strikes, keep reading.

Matt Damon

"No one wants a work stoppage, but if leadership is saying the deal isn't fair then we gotta hold strong until we get a deal that's fair for working actors," he told Deadline. "It's the difference between having healthcare and not for a lot of actors and we gotta do what's right by them."

Jamie Lee Curtis

"The @sagaftra symbol used to be the masks of the actors face," she wrote on Instagram. "REPRESENTING the EXPRESSIONS. The EMOTIONS. The FEELINGS generated by the WORDS of their UNION MEMBERS! Union contracts PROTECT our SAFETY and EXPLOITATION! We are UNION STRONG!"

Issa Rae

"Well, everything is f--ked," she said on her Instagram Story.

Margot Robbie

"I'm very much in support of all the unions," she told Sky News. "I'm a part of SAG so I would absolutely stand by that."

Daniel Radcliffe

"I am one of the very, very lucky and rare actors that has a strong position to negotiate from when I work," he told Vanity Fair. "That is not the experience of most people, and I do think both the actors and writers who are currently striking, nobody wants these things to happen—but I think they're incredibly necessary for the way the industry is going."

Yvette Nicole Brown

"It's official @sagaftra has voted to strike," she tweeted. "We will be joining the WGA on the picket lines starting tomorrow. We all got together last week to create our signs. I was on sticks! When you're out there without a splinter thanks to the duct tape, think of ya girl! #UnionStrong."

Josh Gad

"The LA styrofoam and cardboard industry is about to have an even busier summer," he tweeted. "Let's do this thing. #SAGAFTRAstrong."

Cynthia Nixon

"The @sagaftra strike has at last arrived," she tweeted. "I am proud to be standing tall with the @WGAWest and @WGAEast as actors and writers together demand a fair share of the record-breaking profits the studios have been reaping from our labor for far too long. We will win this!

Devon Sawa

"We're on strike," he tweeted. "Just a heads up, this isn't a party. A lot of us don't want to be on a strike, we are doing it for a reason. If you're going down to the picket line just to meet and greet and get a couple cool pics for the gram, you ain't us."

Sheryl Lee Ralph

"Strikes are very difficult," she told Vanity Fair. "Nobody wants to be in strike mode, but sometimes you have got to do what needs to be done. And I know as difficult as it is, people have to remember if real workers did not come together and organize, none of us would have a weekend."

Jack Quaid

"If we must strike… THEN WE SHALL STRIIIIIIIIKEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" he tweeted. "#SAGAFTRA."

Frankie Grande

"Proud to be a part of an incredible union fighting for what's right for all actors and so proud to stand alongside my WGA family," he tweeted. "Let's make Hollywood a better and shinier place for us all!"

Maria Shriver

"Wow," she tweeted. "Having writers and actors both out of work will affect so many families behind the scenes, many who live paycheck to paycheck."

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