Hollywood Celebrities Stand With #StopExecutionsInIran Campaign: 'The World Is Watching'


It all began after unrests that sparked following the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. The young woman was in custody of Iran’s morality police, after being arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab "improperly."

The anger that follows, has become part of the solidarity of Iranian citizens, and how the many Iranians start questioning the authorities, the government, and even their own leaders, including Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. Many people go out to the streets to protest, and to make their voices heard.

In response, citizens are met with nationwide internet blackouts, social media restrictions, teargassing, and water canons. And because those aren't enough to curb the protests, the authorities also started relying on drastic measures, including live ammunitions, and execution by hanging.

As of late December 2022, Human Rights Iran reported around 500 deaths associated with the demonstrations, with thousands more arrested and 100 protestors at risk of execution — sentences and arrests that are ongoing.

In one of the many attempts by foreigners to stop this, Several major Hollywood stars have called for an end to executions in Iran in an online campaign.

The campaign, which took 10 days to complete, features stars and celebrities from the West, was organized by Iranian American screenwriter and satirist Nicole Najafi, Iranian American director, writer and producer Ana Lily Amirpour, and Iranian American actress and writer Mozhan Marnò.

In a video posted online, the featured individuals are seen holding up a piece of paper with the caption #StopExecutionsinIran written across it.

"We stand with the people of Iran in their fight for freedom," the video reads.

"Thousands of protesters have been arrested. Some have already been executed. Many more are in danger. But the world is watching."

The video concludes by encouraging viewers to take their own photo with the sign and post it online.

The stars and celebrities include: Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Jesse Williams, Claire Danes, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bryan Cranston, Barbie Ferreira, Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Jurnee Smollett, Bradley Whitford, William Jackson Harper, Jodi Balfour, Abbi Jacobson, Sarah Snook, Murray Bartlett, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Michael McKean, Sofia Boutella, Karen O, Zazie Beetz, Norman Reedus, Joel Kim Booster, Jada Pinkett Smith, Shirley Manson, Kate Walsh, Kiernan Shipka, Ariana DeBose, J. Smith-Cameron, Suki Waterhouse, Amy Landecker, Ed Skrein, Kate Micucci, Tyler Posey, Martin Starr, Lisa Ann Walter, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Elijah Wood, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Silverman, Ray Fisher, John David Washington, Trai Byers, April Matthis, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Potts, Charles Browning, Peter Jay Fernandez, Kate Beckinsale, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jason Momoa.

They are among the more than 50 entertainment industry members who publicly show their supporting calls to end Iran’s execution of protestors, jailed during the country’s 100 days of demonstrations around women’s rights.

Read: How Technology Keeps Protests In Iran Alive, With Or Without The Internet

Mahsa Amini sparked protests in Iran
Following Mahsa Amini's death, people in Iran were protesting about the regime and the conservativeness of the country.

According to Amirpour, who noted this is the first time she’s used social platforms to bring attention to something she cares about and get people accurate information about the country:

"We’ve reached a point where we know this new generation of Iranian people want freedom and are taking control of their future like never before and the only thing we can do is keep that conversation going in new and vital ways."

And according to Marnò:

"We want to get as many eyes on this issue as possible, and in so doing, make the Islamic Republic feel the pressure — the international community is watching."

"The other purpose of this is to show Iranians in Iran that the world is with them; that they are not forgotten; that their protests and suffering are not in vain. They are out there in the streets risking their lives, and it has been going on for months now. We can’t underestimate the mental and physical stamina that takes."

"Iranian people are somehow winning a battle against an oppressive theocracy with just their bodies and their voices and their rage."

"My hope is that all of the content created — not just this video, but all of the posts, the op-eds, the demonstration, that they have the cumulative effect of making people around the world understand the importance of this revolution."

"My hope is that more people feel emboldened to show their support on social media. I hope celebrities will speak out during their awards speeches. You will get zero eye rolls from the Iranian community,” she says. “This is one of those rare situations where social media activism is the activism."

Among the #StopExecutionsinIran effort’s earliest supporters was Momoa, who has been "steadfast" from day one, according to The Bad Batch director.

The Aquaman actor was the first to send his photo, like "within five minutes," Najafi recalls, after his one-time director texted him.

Other include Succession actor Brian Cox, whose wife is half-Iranian, Sarah Silverman, who invited Amirpour to speak on her podcast.

"Brian Cox has been amazing," said Najafi. "He narrated a video that [Succession‘s] Arian Moayed created for the movement. He spoke up about the executions during Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve special."

Next, is Marion Cotillard, who previously made a video featuring her and other French film stars like Juliette Binoche cutting their hair in solidarity with the Iranian protesters.

And as for Abbi Jacobson, who stars at A League of Their Own, she has been "consistently reposting information," and has shared things about Iran alongside her fiancé Jodi Balfour.

“We’re especially happy to have Bryan Cranston involved because Breaking Bad is the most popular show in Iran and I know they will be so happy to see Heisenberg supporting them,” Najafi added.

Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini.

Campaign like this may not affect much, and may not end the unrest in Iran. But, the campaign that shows celebrity support can energize the youth of Iran, who Najafi said, have felt both forgotten and misunderstood for many years.

"Seeing non-Iranian people in the media step forward and support us means so much because the news media has overlooked us, gotten a lot of it wrong and at times even made things worse," Amirpour added.

"So it ends up falling on us to inform people."

“When I see criticism about celebrities talking about political issues, my response is that I don’t care, as long as it brings attention to the people of Iran,” she continued.

"People in the spotlight - celebrities, musicians, activists - all have a way to get the masses to look at something […] It forces it into the mainstream media. It forces it in front of more eyes. It makes it personal."

Further reading: Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei For 'Women's Freedom' Remarks Against The Whole Of Twitter