At an event night honoring the best and brightest performances on Broadway, there was one performance that shocked and might have overshadowed the rest at Sunday night’s Tony Awards: Robert De Niro cursing at the sitting president of the United States — twice.
“I’m gonna say one thing: Fuck Trump,” De Niro said, bringing the audience to its feet for a standing ovation. “It’s no longer ‘down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump.’”
De Niro dropping F-bombs was probably not in the script — he was supposed to and eventually did introduce Bruce Springsteen. And while CBS bleeped De Niro’s expletive-filled demand for American audiences, it was aired live and international broadcasts got the uncensored version.
Conservatives have already begun bashing De Niro for disrespecting the president — it’s not unlike the reaction Samantha Bee faced for insulting Ivanka Trump late last month. That’s understandable, considering party lines. But De Niro’s outburst is also drawing criticism for taking away from the night’s honorees, many of whom carefully and thoughtfully called for political change without being crass or hurling insults:
many women and queer people gay carefully worded, painstakingly thought-out speeches tonight about living in the world of 2018, and will get less coverage than the star of "Dirty Grandpa" issuing a verbal belch— Daniel D'Addario (@DPD_) June 11, 2018
Andrew Garfield, who won for his performance in Angels in America, referenced the Supreme Court same-sex wedding cake decision in his acceptance speech, calling for more understanding and empathy for the LGBTQ community. Glenda Jackson, who took home the Tony for lead actress in a play (Three Tall Women), talked about America’s history of being welcoming and overcoming differences in her speech. And Ari’el Stachel, who won the Tony for featured actor in a musical, spoke elegantly about representation, being Middle Eastern, and his internal struggle with accepting who he is.
Trump, who isn’t shy about hurling insults, particularly at high-profile celebrities and politicians, is in Singapore ahead of a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Monday night. He hasn’t (yet) responded to De Niro.