Aug 23, 2023

Martin Sheen and “The West Wing” Cast Members Give Stirring Speech at Hollywood Strike Rally Transcript

Martin Sheen and "The West Wing" Cast Members Give Stirring Speech at Hollywood Strike Rally Transcript
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Martin Sheen, known to many as President Jed Bartlet on “The West Wing,” was joined on stage by many of his castmates, including Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Allison Janney and Dulé Hill. Read the transcript here.

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Martin Sheen (00:00):

I have been a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild, as well as the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists and Equity, since 1961. That was the same year I got married. Clearly, I have a fondness for unions. As you just heard, I sometimes find myself with a bit of an identification crisis. You see, as was mentioned previously, I spent the time from 1999 until the fall of 2006 as a member of an extraordinary company called The West Wing and I was affectionately known, in some quarters at least, as the acting President of the United States. When the show ended its run in 2006, I became known, in some quarters equally, fondly as the former acting President of the United States. And I’m proud to have been part of that extraordinary company, most of whom are here today. And I want to acknowledge them and I hope that they will acknowledge themselves.

(01:25)
Allison Janney, Dulé Hill, Melissa Fitzgerald, Brad Whitford, Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney, Josh Malina, Mary McCormack, and a shout-out to Rob Lowe as well as Aaron Sorkin.

(02:05)
You know, the Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven and asked to be let in. St. Peter says, “Of course. Just show us your scars.” The man says, “I have no scars.” St. Peter says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?” Clearly, this union has found something we’re fighting for and it is very costly. If this were not so, we would be left to question its value. And so, now we are called to support the union, support the leadership, and to stand together for the long haul and to stick to it like a stamp.

(02:54)
The studios are always seeing what is and asking, “Why?” Let us continue to dream things that never were and say, “Why not?” There’s so much going on in our country. It is so dangerously divided. And very often we come to gatherings like these and we’re inspired because we see the effect of unionism and unity. And so, in my closing remarks, I would like to offer a prayer by Tagore, the Indian poet laureate. We are called to help lift this nation up to that place “Where the heart is without fear, and the head is held high. Where knowledge is free. Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. Where words come out from the depths of truth and tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection. Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action. Into that heaven of freedom, dear Father, let our country awake.” Amen.

Richard Schiff (04:31):

I’m a member of many unions. I was a teacher, I was an IBEW member, I was a New York City cab driver, Actors Equity, DGA and SAG-AFTRA. And I know, of all these experiences with the unions, there’s one message that must be accepted, must be embraced, and that is we stick together, we fight together, and we do not give in.

(05:00)
Thank you. Brad?

Speaker 3 (05:04):

That’s right.

Richard Schiff (05:05):

Who else wants to speak? Anyone?

Bradley Whitford (05:06):

I’ll say something quick. Nobody likes to follow Martin.

(05:11)
I think it’s very clear, as I look out here… Malina is booing me… As I look out here today. It’s been very clear and it’s wonderfully inspiring. These producers way underestimated our resolve, way underestimated. And we’re tired of these producers going to Wall Street and crowing about their extraordinary profits to justify their obscene personal financial rewards, and then turning us, the people who create the value of their entire lives, and them telling us that this business just doesn’t work anymore. You need to pay us.

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