Stunt actor Dmitrius Bistrevsky, who served as one of the three actors behind the suit of iconic Star Wars villain Darth Vader in Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, has accused Disney of refusing to pay him for the time he spent doing “rehearsals” and “reshoots” in service of the show’s production.
The Ukranian born Bistrevsky leveled his accusations against the entertainment conglomerate on May 28th, unconventionally releasing a series of statements – each of which appear to have either been written in his mobile phone’s notes app or sent in conversation to an unknown individual – by minting them as NFTs and offering them up for auction on popular NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Offering up his individual numbered series of statements under the set title of “Truth” with 90% of proceeds going to relief efforts related to the current invasion of his home country, Bistrevsky explained in his first piece, “Yeah, they never paid me for my rehearsals, and though I didn’t want to do the reshoots because I didn’t want to go into the darkness again (I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to make peace with the character and stop fighting with him) they told me think about the fans.”
“I did,” he continued, “and then after they didn’t pay me for the promo shoot I walked. They said it was a mistake and offered to pay me double for the reshoots, I just took the bare minimum and told them I didn’t want to work with them anymore.”
Bistrevsky then reflected on how “this project was a monkey paw for me, I spent every moment and every penny training for it, and then every penny I earned to recover spiritually and emotionally from the role.”
“And in the end I didn’t even earn a penny, I just survived and endured a year,” he added. “I haven’t been able to fix the AC in my car, but now everyone will think that I’m rich and will get mad if I don’t tip them enough when in actuality I was already broke by the time we got to reshoots.”
“But I told them the truth and told them that I don’t want to work with a company that steals from its own people,” said the actor. “But honestly, I don’t want any of it anymore. I’m happy that I can escape and go to Japan with close friends of mine and just do circus.”
He further asserted that “My contract was so bad that they didn’t pay me overtime or meal penalties or forced calls, and they still turned around and took more.”
“They never paid me for my rehearsals, which was in my contract, and because of it, I didn’t qualify for insurance so I had to pay out of pocket for all the PT and sports massage while training,” he wrote. “And I get less residuals because of it. Tom never paid me for them, I told you he did so that you wouldn’t feel bad.”
It should be noted that at present, it is unclear who specifically the ‘Tom’ in Bistrevsky’s statement is referring to.
In a follow-up statement, Bistrevsky declared, “But I’m going to walk away from this project. It has been a magic experience. But I also can’t take anymore with the disrespect and just simply no regards of human decency.”
“I’ve been giving 1000 percent in my training and trying to show up anyway I can,” he lamented. “But I’m done being the bigger person. I’m living off of my credit cards, I can’t even look my landlord in the eyes because I haven’t payed my full amount of rent for 5 months.”
“I can barely pay for my own food and gas,” he claimed. “I was called yesterday while I was at home to ‘move my car because I was parked in someone else’s spot’ I’m Darth Vader and I can’t even look the kindest man I know, a police officer, in the eyes, because I can’t pay my own rent.”
“I’m simply done,” conceded Bistrevsky. “I have nothing else to give.”
The actor ended this statement with a compliment to Obi-Wan Kenobi stunt coordinator Olga Sokolova, praising, “Olga is a master. I am a master. People don’t even understand the level of discipline it takes to achieve”.
Offering up further insight into his time as Darth Vader in a subsequent NFT line titled ‘Hurt and Mistreatment’, Bistrevsky sought “to clarify” that “they were having us rehearse and train in 16 the sound stage. On the dirty floor that never once got swept, next to a pile of trash that was there for a couple weeks, with a $5 bathroom mirror from Ikea and a cheap black bear mask.”
“And we were trying to make do with the equipment and trying to address the notes that [director Deborah Chow] gave us, while being hypercognitive of who was walking by because there were random construction workers, PA’s, [even] a covid compliance officer meeting happen during one of our sessions,” the actor said.
He continued, “While everyone is watching us train we weren’t sure who could see us rehearse bits from scenes we’ve worked on and who couldn’t. So we would have to go through start and stops everytime people we didn’t know were walking through.”
“One time the light got shut off on us in the stunt space mid session and we went to 16 only to find it was full of background people and we didn’t feel comfortable at all training in front of them,” Bistrevesky said. “So the whole time we were wondering if this was happening because we are both Russian.”
“Because the tension between the two countries are escalating,” he elaborated. “We were both thinking that has nothing to do with us, we are just trying to show up and give the character and Deb the respect that they deserve. I wanted to clarify that.”
Amidst a number of additional NFTs wherein the stunt actor can be seen allowing himself to express more personal and emotional reactions to the situation, Bistrevesky eventually informed fans, “My agent warned me that I was walking a slippery slope and that I might not be able to work with them again.”
“And I said,” recalled the actor, “‘Why would I want to work with a company that exploits me, they’ll just do it again. Let’s just teach them that they can’t do this to everyone and some people cannot be bought or replaced.”
“Would you be able to look into why my contract still hasn’t been honored and I haven’t been paid for my rehearsals exceeding the initial 15 freebies?” he concluded. “I know Disney is strapped for cash right now, but 31 unpaid 4 hour rehearsals requested by the director seems a little excessive.”
“Thanks, Asking for myself” Bistrevesky signed off.
Ultimately, Bistrevsky ended his series of accusatory reveals by three images, beginning with a redacted image of his supposed contract, which confirms that including his return for the last two episodes of the season, he was set to receive a “Guaranteed Compensation” of $50,000 USD:
Followed by a redacted pay stub for June 27th, 2021 – July 3rd, 2021 confirming he was paid a base of $5,000 USD for the period, of which $3,557.68 USD was deducted due to various taxes, leaving him with a net pay of $1,442.42 USD:
And finally another statement showing that with an additional $500 USD deduction for his managing talent agency, Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates Inc., the actor took home just $942.42 USD for the week’s physically demanding work.
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