The news that two actresses have been dropped and fired over statements related to the Israel Hamas war have revealed the challenges Hollywood faces over an extremely divisive geopolitical issue.
Hollywood has become divided over the Israel Hamas war, and it’s getting ugly.
It has been announced that Susan Sarandon has been dropped by talent agency UTA after she made controversial comments at a pro-Palestine rally in New York on 17 November.
Deadline broke the news that UTA dropped the Oscar-winning actress following the following comments made at a rally: “There are a lot of people that are afraid, that are afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.”
She told protesters to have conversations with Jewish Americans, who don’t feel safe amid the rise of antisemitism in the country.
Muslim American journalist Asra Nomani responded to Sarandon’s comments in a lengthy post on X, writing: “Please don’t minimize the experience of Jewish Americans by sanitizing the hell that it is for Muslims living in Muslim countries and vilifying America for the life — and freedoms — she offers Muslims like my family. Go, live like a Muslim woman in a Muslim country. You will come back to America and kiss the land beneath your feet.”
Sarandon has also come under scrutiny for sharing pro-Palestine posts on X, including posts by Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, who has been accused of antisemitism in the past.
Sarandon being dropped from UTA is another instance in recent weeks of talent agencies making tough decisions when it comes to clients or agents making public statements on the war in Israel.
Last month, CAA Co-Head Of Film, Maha Dakhil, resigned from the agency’s board after she reposted an instagram story that said “You’re currently learning who supports genocide,” followed by posts that read, “That’s the line for me” and “What’s more heartbreaking than witnessing genocide? Witnessing the denial that genocide is happening.”
According to Variety and other trade publications, one of Dakhil’s most famous clients, Tom Cruise, made it known to CAA that he was backing Ms Dakhil. Cruise reportedly met her at the agency's office last week to show his support in person.
Another recent example of Hollywood’s current Israel Hamas problem has gotten fans of the beloved Scream horror franchise relied up.
Variety broke the news that Spyglass Media Group had dropped actress Melissa Barrera from the cast of Scream VII.
Barrera was reportedly fired for showing support for the Palestinian cause.
In a post on her Instagram Stories, she wrote: “I too come from a colonized country. Palestine WILL be free. They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”
In another post, she added: “Gaza is currently being treated like a concentration camp. Cornering everyone together, with no where to go, no electricity no water. People have learnt nothing from our histories. And just like our histories, people are still silently watching it all happen. THIS IS GENOCIDE & ETHNIC CLEANSING.”
The group has since stated that Barrera’s posts were interpreted as antisemitic.
“Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear,” said a statement from Spyglass. “We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”
The Mexican-born In The Heights actress had been posting on her Instagram about the conflict, resharing a post that accuses Israel of “genocide and ethnic cleansing” and one from Jewish Currents magazine about distorting “the Holocaust to boost the Israeli arms industry.”
Barrera was slated to star in the next Scream outing after leading the fifth and sixth entries over the past two years as the character Sam Carpenter.
Filmmaker Christopher Landon, who is slated to take over directing duties on Scream VII after Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett stepped away after steering the franchise revival, initally offered a statement on Barrera’s exit, though his post on X has now been deleted.
The post read: “Everything sucks. Stop yelling. This was not my decision to make.”
Since the news broke, fans have vowed to boycott Scream VII. The hashtag ‘#BoycottScream7’ began trending on X, with many fans vowing to not see the movie when it is released.
Others called for the rest of the Scream cast, including Jenna Ortega who plays Barrera’s on-screen sister Tara, to “walk straight off that project in solidarity”.
A petition from fans to reinstate the actress in her role showed up online.
The petition signed off with the line: “Sign this petition today if you believe in standing up against corporate bullying and protecting our beloved actors’ rights to express their opinions freely.”
Previously, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) came under fire from The Screenwriters Guild of Israel for not publicly condemning the Hamas attacks on 7 October. Two weeks later WGA West president Meredith Stiehm told members that there would be no statement because consensus was ”out of reach” among membership.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also called out the WGA last month and told Variety: “There’s just no excuse for not condemning Hamas and demanding the release of the hostages. Hollywood was quick to declare Black Lives Matter, as they should, and Time’s Up, as they should, and myriad other important causes.”
He continued: “There’s plenty of room for criticism of Israel or to voice concerns about the ongoing war in Gaza, but that doesn’t provide celebrities and industry reps with an open license to wage unfair accusations against Israel, such as accusing it of ‘apartheid’ or ‘genocide’ or, worse, to celebrate the actions of Hamas terrorists.”