The cast of 'The West Wing' reunited on Tuesday (22.08.23) on the picket line outside Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
Martin Sheen was joined by co-stars including Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dule Hill, Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney, Joshua Malina and Mary McCormack - as well as show writer Aaron Sorkin - to support the ongoing strikes by the writers and actors unions which have brought Hollywood to a standstill
Sheen gave a rousing speech in the style of his character President Bartlet as he addressed the crowd gathered outside the studio on the National Day of Solidarity, telling them he's been a member of an acting union since 1961. He joked: "That was the same year I got married. Clearly I have a fondness for unions."
The screen star then introduced his colleagues and added: "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."
Sheen went on to express his support for the strikes by the SAG-AFTRA union and the Writers Guild of America and urged members to keep up the pressure and stick to it "like a stamp".
He told the crowd: "The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven and asks to be let in and 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 worth 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!
"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 effective unionism and unity."
According to EW.com, Sheen ended his speech by reciting a prayer by poet Rabindranath Tagore: "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, and to ever-widening thought and action into that heaven of freedom, dear father. Let our country awake."