Beverly D’Angelo talks Acting, SAG-AFTRA Strike – Fan Expo Chicago 2023

Beverly D'Angelo. Courtesy of Beverly D'Angelo

Beverly D’Angelo spoke with Solzy at the Movies about acting and the SAG-AFTRA strike during her Fan Expo Chicago appearance.

The actress is signing autographs and posing for photos with fans during the convention. At 1:45 PM this afternoon, she will join former castmates Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Christie Brinkley, and Randy Quaid for a panel. While Chevy Chase was previously announced to attend, he canceled his appearance as of Thursday. Because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the panel will be very different from the original intent since past work cannot be discussed in accordance with struck rules.

Sunday marks the last day of this year’s Fan Expo Chicago.

It’s so nice to meet you today.

Beverly D’Angelo: Hi, Solzy.

How are you enjoying your stay here at Fan Expo Chicago?

Beverly D’Angelo: Well, I’m a Midwestern girl so I love that. John Hughes, who wrote the first [REDACTED), he’s a hometown boy. I was actually in [REDACTED) with John Cusack but my scene’s only on the DVD, the Blu-ray, but I shot it for that. Of course, [REDACTED], Jeremy Piven is another hometown boy and Ann Cusack, I know. Look, I’m made for Chicago. I don’t know why I’m not living here, frank.

What do you typically look for in a character when you’re reading a screenplay?

Beverly D’Angelo: Well, I’ve had different phases in my life but starting in September 2021, I started working a lot. I have four movies that are going to come out over the next year and a half—they’re in the can as they say. It’s a different time in my life and what I look for is something that resonates with something that I absolutely know is something within me that I can deliver for the writer better than anybody. Otherwise, it’s not things like a road race or a contest. I think I look for things that are unexplored parts of being a woman, and especially at this age, I look for roles that speak to a sense of self-validation and self-empowerment at my age.

As far as the reunion panel goes, how is the SAG-AFTRA strike going to impact that?

Beverly D’Angelo: Well, that’s a good question. What the strike is about—here’s a really easy way to put it—Bob Iger runs Disney and makes $78,000 a day. The actors—this isn’t about the multimillionaire editors, this isn’t about actors that can say I want to do this movie, and then get the powers that be to spend a lot of money on a budget. This is about the actors that are in the union, who who see themselves as actors who will illuminate for the writers—they’re performers. They’re to be at the service of the director and of the writer and of the producers and to carry their hopes and dreams through their skill set.

There’s a real discrepancy between the profits that are being made from the labor of the acting body and, in essence, the distributors. You have streamers and you have studio heads that are making a great deal of profit and they don’t show up in proportion to the labor that’s being supplied. When you don’t get residuals, when the AMPTP doesn’t put in an adequate amount to the Pension and Health Fund that that can keep all of our members insured. When they speak to wanting to use artificial intelligence as opposed to enhance everything in collaboration with the actors and writers. When they speak to it in a way that would replace those actors and writers, then it’s time to go, Wait a minute, what direction are you going here? Because it’s really about the audience. It’s really about the audience. Does an audience want to have actors that are generated by computers? Does an audience want to have scripts that are written by computers?

AI is, at this point, simply, it’s a digestive system. AI can only produce actors and scripts based on what’s out there that had been written by human beings and performed by human beings. The point is this, humans have communicated through stories since time immemorial, through visual stories of 30,000 years ago. They’re pictograms telling stories of hunts. That’s what we do. Humans have that need to connect. We tell each other stories. I’m telling you a story right now about an actor who’s on strike.

Your question was, how does that affect the panel? We’re not supposed to really address any film or content that was made under the contract of the current standard of the AMPTP. So what does that mean? That means we can talk about what made us be an actor, that means we can talk about things that we experienced as an actor. But the idea is that actors have been forced against the wall, like you would with a boyfriend or something who wasn’t treating you, right? We’ve been forced against the wall to say, Okay, you think you don’t need us? We’re going to take away everything that we do. Part of what we do with as actors and in a panel situation at a convention would be to talk about the movie. That would make people go out and see the movie, go look on a streamer and find the movie. But guess what? If they do that, that’s part of what we’re striking about. They’re making a profit, we’re helping them—come on!

I think that there’s a tendency for the public to maybe see actors as being narcissistic or penny-wasting, not many, but there’s just such a huge amount of profit being made that just in terms of labor, it’s not fair. It also speaks to value because in Shakespeare’s day, actors weren’t even allowed to own property. When you scratch the surface of any actor, you’re gonna find someone who’s a bit of an introvert and has the most important task of not looking to the public or critics for validation. We’re, by our nature—the people who stick with it—people who must be self-validating. When you’re living in a setup where are very were the people that are profiting off of what you do are telling you that your value is diminished, it puts you in a position of going, I’ve got to be stronger than this. I’ve got to be able to walk away. There’s a lot going on, that is a trickle-down from just pure finances to even the validity of the value of a human telling another person a story.

Fan Expo Chicago runs August 10-13, 2023 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.