Matt Damon, Emily Blunt Say ‘Oppenheimer’ Cast Will Leave U.K. Premiere if SAG-AFTRA Strike Called: ‘Everyone’s Going to Walk, Obviously’

Matt Damon has revealed that the “Oppenheimer” cast talked about their strike strategy before hitting the movie’s red carpet premiere in London on Thursday.

“We talked about it,” Damon told Variety on the carpet. “Look, if it’s called now, everyone’s going to walk obviously in solidarity … Once the strike is officially called, [we’re walking]. That’s why we moved this [red carpet] up because we know the second it’s called, we’re going home.”

Damon added: “We gave the strike authorization. We voted 98% to 2% to do that because we know our leadership has our best interest at heart.”

“It’s really about working actors,” he continued. “It’s $26,000 to qualify for health coverage and a lot of people are on the margins and residual payments are getting them across that threshold. This isn’t an academic exercise. This is real life and death stuff. Hopefully we get to a resolution quickly. No one wants a work stoppage, but we’ve got to get a fair deal.”

The London carpet for Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb thriller kicked off just before 5 p.m. local time, with a lot of nervous publicists and marketing executives looking anxiously at their phones and watches. In the event of an early strike, sources told Variety that the entire cast planned to discreetly exit the carpet in Leicester Square.

Emily Blunt told Variety: “Obviously we stand we all of the actors and at whatever point it’s called, we’re going to be going home and standing together through it because I want everyone to get a fair deal.”

Asked whether she’ll be joining the picket line herself, the British star quipped, “Oh, I think so!” before being rushed down the line by her publicist.

Kenneth Branagh, who plays physicist Niels Bohr in the film, also spoke to Variety about his feelings on the strike.

“There are a lot of people here we did not want to disappoint, but we’re also in complete solidarity with our colleagues and what they’re doing,” he said. “I know they’ve worked diligently to achieve an agreement which is happening at a critical point in our industry. It’s important that we’re ready to be shoulder-to-shoulder with them as the situation develops.”

Nolan also spoke to Variety on the carpet about the film’s runtime.

“The runtime is two minutes shorter than ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ so we cling to that,” he said. “I said to (producer) Emma Thomas very early on that it’s going to be a three-hour film. I have to write a script that reflects that. That was our conversation with the studio. It’s a big story and needs a big talent. It’s a 180-page script and it’s a $180 million movie.”

The cast worked the carpet for the better part of an hour before wrapping around 6 p.m. for group photos. Rami Malek, who was stuck in traffic heading over to central London from a shoot, missed the red carpet entirely, but arrived at the 11th hour and hurried onto the carpet for photos.

The cast is expected to head to the BFI IMAX in Waterloo for the actual screening at 7 p.m., which is about a 15-minute drive away.

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