Frank Langella was so moved by the mass shootings in Orlando that he tore up the speech he planned to deliver at Sunday’s Tony Awards so he could pay tribute to the 50 people who had been gunned down in a Florida nightclub.
“I’m now a 78-year-old man and I react to things a lot more profoundly than I did when I was 60, when I was 50 or 40,” said Langella. “This constant violence and sense of madness that seems to be pervading this country is terrifying.”
After taking the stage to accept his best leading actor in a play statue for “The Father,” Langella urged the people of Orlando to “remain strong.”
“When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us,” he said.
In the press room, Langella said he hoped the speech wasn’t “over the top,” but that he felt such “disgust, anger and tremendous pain” that he couldn’t stay silent.
“There’s no greater group of people in a room who will band together and do everything possible… theater people are really the most generous people in the world,” said Langella.
The Orlando killings are the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and appear to have targeted the LGBT community. The murders took place at Pulse, a Florida gay nightclub. Langella wasn’t the only big Broadway name to speak out about the murders.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, the “Phantom of the Opera” composer, told press that “no child was ever born to hate…the only way to take on these appalling acts is through believing in the arts and through music and theater.”
“The Father” deals with a man who is battling dementia. The subject matter inspires a deep response in audiences, Langella said.
“I’ve never played a role in which so many people come back stage and sit on the floor of my dressing room and weep,” he noted. “Not necessarily because of my performance, but because of how many of us are dealing with people who are losing reality.”