ABOVE: Viola Davis attends the “Monster” red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
In a move that might set a precedent for other A-listers, G20 star Viola Davis has become one of the first to very visibly back away from a project for the duration of the actors and writers strikes, even after the film got the SAG-AFTRA interim agreement necessary to start production.
“I love this movie, but I do not feel that it would be appropriate for this production to move forward during the strike,” said the EGOT winner in an official statement. “I appreciate that the producers on the project agree with this decision. JuVee Productions and I stand in solidarity with actors, SAG/AFTRA and the WGA.”
News of the move on Davis’ part comes one week after actor Tobias Menzies revealed that he has joined Brad Pitt in backing away from Apex, the Formula One film that Joseph Kosinski is helming for Apple. “They’re not shooting with any SAG actors,” said Menzies, “so I stood down.”
On last Friday afternoon, SAG-AFTRA shared via its website that G20 was approved for a waiver. The title that Davis was set to star in and produce secured the go-ahead from the Actors Guild, even given the involvement of Amazon Studios, because the project hails from the non AMPTP-affiliated MRC and will only be distributed by Amazon. Still, sources revealed shortly after news of the waiver emerged that it was unclear whether the project would, in fact, move forward amidst the strikes. The situation highlights some of the awkwardness and uncertainty for stars at this time who must choose if they can accept the optics of their situation. While an interim agreement for one project would put hundreds back to work, during perilous financial times for so many, choosing to use it might result in accusations of “scabbing.”
The Actors Guild has handed out more than 100 interim agreements to movies and series, in total, since the SAG-AFTRA walkout last month. And they’ve become a topic of frustration for some, given confusion as to how projects from mini majors can wind up in the same company as ultra low-budget Indies. Other starry projects to have secured the agreement so far include Apple TV+’s series Tehran, New Line pickup The Watchers from Ishana Night Shyamalan, Glenn Close’s The Summer Book and A24 titles Mother Mary and Death of a Unicorn. The Gray House, a Civil War spy drama series that is being produced by Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman, also secured an agreement recently.
G20 is an action thriller that sees terrorists overtake the G20 Summit, with American President Taylor Sutton (Davis) then bringing all her statecraft and military experience to defend her family, her fellow leaders and the world. Noah and Logan Miller inked the script, with revisions by Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss. Producers include Andrew Lazar via Mad Chance, as well as Davis and Julius Tennon via JuVee.