UPDATE: 8/4/23 2:12 p.m. ET.
“It’s come to my attention that an offhand remark I made in jest last weekend is being taken out of context,” Levi said in a statement on Friday, August 4, via Deadline. “So let me be very clear. I fully support my union, the WGA, and the strike. I remain an outspoken critic of the exploitative system that us artists are subject to work in since I started my journey in this business 25 years ago. This strike is necessary to protect ourselves, our writers, and all those working in production who make the industry move.”
He further explained: “But we also cannot forget our fans during this strike. Fans that spend their money and energy traveling far distances to talk with us about our work that means so much to them, we should be able to engage. Our business exists and succeeds because of the fans, and I think it’s imperative we appreciate them for their support of our careers.”
Original story below:
Levi, 42, shared his thoughts on the restrictions in a video uploaded via TikTok on Thursday, August 3. The clip appeared to be filmed at Comic Con Manchester, which took place in July. As he walked back and forth across a stage, Levi alluded to his past projects including Shazam, Chuck and Tangled.
“I’m not allowed to talk about — this is so dumb. I’m not allowed to talk about any of my previous work,” he told the crowd with a laugh. “I’m not allowed to talk about movies that I may be a superhero in. I’m not allowed to talk about TV shows that I may have been a nerd who worked at a Best Buy. I’m not allowed to talk about any animated princess movies that I was fantastic in as the best prince ever. I’m not allowed to talk about those things.”
Levi chuckles as he speaks, leaving social media users confused as to his argument. While some fans believed that Levi was simply “trying to entertain” the audience at the event — which was likely set up before the strike began — others didn’t think the labor dispute was a laughing matter.
“If they want to complain it should be towards [studios] not the union trying to save their jobs!” one Twitter user wrote. Another fan pointed out that actors can still “talk about so much without actually mentioning the projects” they filmed pre-strike.
SAG-AFTRA is currently striking against the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Hollywood film studios. The organizations failed to reach an agreement regarding a new contract, leading the actors union to take action. With the Writers Guild of America (WGA) kicking off its own strike earlier this year, Hollywood is at a standstill.
Despite his playful commentary about the rules — SAG-AFTRA members are not allowed to promote any work created under the previous AMPTP contract — Levi has been outspoken about the strike’s value.
“[The studio executives] do not care about human life, they don’t care about, really, life in general. They care about profits,” he said in a July Instagram post. “It’s always profit over people and not the other way around. … We need to be striking, we should have done this years ago.”
Footage of Levi’s Comic Con appearance went viral shortly after fellow DC Comics star Stephen Amell made waves for his own hot take on the strike. “I support my union, I do. And I stand with them. I do not support striking. I don’t. I think that it is a reductive negotiating tactic,” Amell, 42, said at GalaxyCon in North Carolina late last month, adding that it felt “incredibly frustrating” to not be able to celebrate his work.
After facing backlash online, Amell took to Instagram to clarify his perspective and asserted that SAG-AFTRA has his “unconditional” support. “Our leadership has an incredibly complicated job and I am grateful for all that they do. … I understand why we are striking, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t emotionally frustrating on many levels for all involved,” he wrote on Tuesday, August 1.
Amell reassured fans that he would “stand with” the union in their fight against the studios, adding, “When you see me on a picket line please don’t whip any hard fruit.”