Keanu, Nicholson Join Artists' Strike

07/10/2003 at 01:00 PM EDT

Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson are temporarily out of work -- and Nicholson is in favor of it.

The "About Schmidt" and "The Matrix" stars, along with Diane Keaton, are at work on an untitled movie in Paris, where a nationwide strike by French actors has shut down production, according to published reports.

In fact, reports the BBC, Nicholson, 66, was shooting a scene on a bridge over the river Seine when protestors walked onto the set and refused to leave, according to police.

And though he stopped working, Nicholson continued with his dialogue. Picking up a bullhorn on the set, Nicholson, in his trademark dark glasses, reportedly addressed the group to ask what was going on.

Told that artists' rights were threatened, he said in broken French: "The struggle continues!"

What then ensued was a discussion with the protesters, says the BBC, and the production crew ultimately decided to pack it in for the night, police said.

At issue in the strike are the French government's current plans to change arts workers' unemployment benefits.

Despite protest strikes throughout summer arts festivals in France, Culture Minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon on Wednesday described the activists as "irresponsible" as the government vowed to press on with the benefit cuts.

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