When paparazzi shots of Olivia Wilde dressed up like Ken for her daughter’s costume-themed birthday party earlier this month popped up on the Internet, it seemed certain that the actress-turned-director would be the first of many stars to take on the recently-revitalized character for Halloween this year. In reality, though, it turns out that by throwing on a neon, ’80s print vest and short set, Wilde was effectively scabbing at her daughter’s celebration. Likely not on purpose—Wilde has been an ardent supporter of the SAG-AFTRA strike (as well as the since-resolved WGA strike), posting on social media in support and taking to the picket lines herself with a sign in hand. Unfortunately, Wilde was just a little too early to her Halloween celebrations this year. Because on Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA issued guidelines around how members of the guild should engage in Halloween this year in order to stay “strike-friendly.”
SAG recommends dressing like “generalized characters and figures” this year, citing a ghost, zombie, and spider as examples. Guild members can dress like characters from non-SAG content, specifically anything animated, and assumedly any projects that got an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA. So, that means you likely won’t see any more Barbie and Kens from your favorite actors this month, and if Timothée Chalamet was planning on putting that tiny waist to use and dressing like Robert J. Oppenheimer to go trick or treating with Kylie Jenner and her kids, he’s probably rethinking that. Of course, one could argue that Barbie was a doll long before it was a hit film, and Oppenheimer is a historical figure, opening up a pretty convincing loophole here. If actors already spent a lot of time, effort and money on their Dune costume, they could say they’re dressing like Paul Atreides from the 1965 science fiction novel, not the Chalamet character from the Denis Villeneuve film and upcoming sequel. Given where all of these character fall in the context of today’s culture, though, no one will likely buy it.
Of course, this also begs the question of whether or not non-actors will abide by these rules as well. Will Hailey and Justin Bieber ditch their idea for a Joker: Folie à Deux couples costume in support of their acting friends? What if Kendall Jenner already has the photoshoot images of her The Little Mermaid look ready to go? Likely, many stars are now scrambling to get their SAG-supportive Halloween costumes together, and we may see many more Renaissance Tour Beyoncés than we originally anticipated.
The pojects awarded a SAG interim agreement also cause some problems with this ruling. Technically, if you dress like Elvis and confirm that you are, in fact, representing Jacob Elordi’s press-approved depiction in Sofia Coppola’s upcoming film, Priscilla, as opposed to Austin Butler’s portrayal in last year’s Elvis, you would be fine. Really, though, these nuances highlight the frivolity of the whole situation. Ryan Reynolds agrees. He took to X to voice his thoughts on SAG’s guidelines. “I look forward to screaming ‘scab’ at my 8 year old all night,” he wrote. “She’s not in the union but she needs to learn.” Mandy Moore too, responded to the announcement, feeling this Halloween “situation” is a distraction from the real issues at hand. “Is this a joke?” she wrote on her Instagram story. “Come on @sagaftra. This is what’s important? We’re asking you to negotiate in good faith on our behalf. So many folks across every aspect of this industry have been sacrificing mightily for months. Get back to the table and get a fair deal so everyone can get back to work.”
This all comes as negotiations between the actors guild and the studios hit a wall earlier this month when talks were suspended indefinitely. In a statement on October 11th, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, wrote that “the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction.” At this point, SAG has been on strike since mid-July, and many were hoping that the WGA deal—which was finalized last month—was a good sign for the actors guild. Perhaps, SAG is hoping that some spooky season-themed striking will scare the AMPTP back to the table.