‘The West Wing’ Star Bradley Whitford Says Studio Execs Aren’t Storytellers: ‘These People Are in the Stock Price Business’ (Video)

The actor also calls on “super triple-A stars” like Brad Pitt to “do whatever they can” to help the strike

“The West Wing” alum Bradley Whitford believes that when it comes to striking writers and actors on the WGA and SAG-AFTRA picket lines, studio executives and streaming giants might have bitten off more than they can chew.

“I’m really proud that so many actors seem to be showing up,” he told TheWrap. “And I don’t think that the people who are not talking to us anymore anticipated this kind of response. I think they underestimated us, as they often do.”

He later added that studio executives are no longer invested in telling stories, only in “enriching the one percent of this country who actually is invested in the stock market.”

“I know it’s never been show friends, it’s always been show business,” he said. “But the people in power we used to be dealing with were in the storytelling business. These people are in the stock price business.”

The SAG-AFTRA strike officially began at midnight on July 14, 2023. Since then, thousands of members of the union have picketed in cities throughout the United States. As part of the strike, actors are not allowed to promote projects in any capacity, with exemptions granted for independent productions.

As this is the first strike the union has called in more than 40 years, there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for how it will proceed. Whitford spoke about the expectations he and other members of the union have for marquee names, such as Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks.

Whitford said, “I want them to do, you know, whatever they can. I think this vast majority of them… I’ve met Brad, Brad’s a really decent guy. Tom Hanks is a really decent guy. I know they support us.”

He added that if stars like Pitt and Hanks can’t physically join the strike, there are other ways they can contribute. Whitford explained, “Whatever they can do behind the scenes, certainly showing up. That doesn’t hurt. But there’s a lot they can do. If they have financial resources, which currently I think some of them do, it would be helpful to donate whatever they can to the strike fund.”

Whitford is pointed when it comes to what he sees as one of the most crucial elements of the concurrent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. “It’s an interesting strike because it has a national prominence that Fran [Drescher] was able to point out,” he said, “because all these issues are coming to a head across all industries.”

He continued, “And in Hollywood, we see CEOs clearly going to Wall Street, going, ‘This business is amazing. I mean, you could give me a $250 million bonus. You know, you should pay me $40 million a year… and then turning to us and saying it doesn’t work.”

Watch the full interview with Bradley Whitford in the video above.