Actor Frank Langella won lead actor in a play at the Tony Awards ceremony for his role in The Father, and the veteran actor used his acceptance speech to honor those murdered during a mass shooting in an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub on Sunday morning.
“I found some words that will mean more to you than a list of names,” Langella said about halfway through his speech. “When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us. Today in Orlando we had a hideous dose of reality, and I urge you Orlando to remain strong.” The actor closed his remarks by saying, “We will be with you every step of the way.”
In the press room following his win, Langella said he wrote the Orlando speech just before the Tonys broadcast. “I had to say something about it,” he said. The actor, 78, said the massacre left him feeling “disgust, anger.”
“I react to things much more profoundly than I did when I was 60, 50,” he said. “This violence, sense of madness that seems to be pervading this country is terrifying me.”
He continued, “This is a night for celebrating people, but I meant what I said, there’s no better group of people to band together and help others. Theater people are really the most generous in the world.”
Langella was one of a number of Tonys winners to reference the attack, which left 50 dead, 53 injured, and ranks as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Accepting a Tony for best original score, Hamilton creator and Lin-Manuel Miranda read sonnet calling out the “senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day.”
“This show is proof that history remembers,” he read, of Hamilton. “We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger/ We rise and fall and light from dying embers remembrance that hope and love last forever.”
Miranda closed his remarks by saying, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
At the start of the Tonys broadcast, host James Corden also read a statement about the attack.
“All around the world, people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” Corden said. “On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity.”
The 2016 Tonys were dedicated to the victims of the attack. Ribbons were handed out before the broadcast to honor those killed.
—Reporting by Isabella Biedenharn