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While we wait for an official vote from its members, it appears that the WGA Strike may finally be coming to an end. However, even if that does happen, Hollywood still won’t be able to get back to work, as the SAF-AFTRA strike is still ongoing. A few stars, like Jessica Chastain, have been able to continue to work due to interim agreements, and others, like Matrix franchise co-star Lambert Wilson, are not based in the U.S., and thus are not subject to the strike. But Wilson says he stands with his American counterparts, as he understands more than some just what is at stake.
Wilson played the Merovingian in The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions, and appeared briefly in The Matrix Resurrections. While he is still able to work and is currently heading the competition jury at the Locarno Film Festival, he tells THR he plans to stand in solidarity with his fellow SAG members at the festival. He explained…
I am on their side [the SAG strikers], 100 percent. I am also a SAG member, but since I am not a U.S. resident, I am exempt from the strike, but during the final night of the festival, I plan to show solidarity with my colleagues. I think this struggle is crucial for our future. We are now being manipulated as artists and viewers. They hide the essentials from us, they don’t tell us what the real audience is, how they are ‘selling’ us, or what we are really earning for them. Regarding artificial intelligence, I am an eyewitness.
Certainly as an actor who played a role in The Matrix films that actually was an artificial intelligence, one might think Lambert Wilson might have a unique perspective on the topic, which has been a core part of what both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have been fighting against as part of their strikes. But Wilson explained that his perspective as an “eyewitness” to the potential future of A.I. in media goes back to his experience with the Enter the Matrix video game. He continued…
When they made the Matrix video game, Enter the Matrix, they kept me for a day making all kinds of expressions to capture and replicate using motion-capture techniques, then another day recording as many words as possible so that my avatar would be perfect. What will happen to that other self? He could happily declare a war, using my face and voice. And here we’re talking about 20 years ago. So, I stand with my U.S. colleagues. I believe they are fighting a battle of civilization, after which nothing will ever be the same. Who wins will decide a lot, not only about cinema but about our future.
How A.I. can be used in conjunction with motion capture technology has been a specific topic during the ongoing strike. While it's been used in video games for years, the technology has only become more realistic. Studios have shown interest in paying background actors a single one-time fee to capture their likeness, which would be used in future projects at the studio’s discretion. It’s just one of a number of complex issues that have been debated and discussed as A.I. becomes more capable of recreating the work of people.
We don’t know yet how the A.I. issue has been resolved in the tentative deal for the WGA, but attention will now shift to the SAG-AFTRA strike, who have many of the same concerns regarding how A.I. might impact their jobs.