Michael Moore, Mark Ruffalo Lead Trump Tower Protest After Broadway Play
Olivia Wilde and Zoe Kazan were among those who led chants after the show, attended by Harvey Weinstein, Georgina Chapman and Marisa Tomei.
Tuesday night’s audience of Michael Moore’s Broadway play The Terms of My Surrender were invited to partake in a post-performance protest outside Trump Tower in New York City — co-hosted by Mark Ruffalo.
"It's a little field trip!" Ruffalo told ticket holders, including Harvey Weinstein, his wife Georgina Chapman, Marisa Tomei and Fisher Stevens, while chatting candidly with Moore onstage at the Belasco Theatre (previous surprise guests of the one-man show include Bryan Cranston, Keith Olbermann, Maxine Waters and Gloria Steinem). He informed the attendees of the one-man show — which Moore describes as a “12-step meeting for the Democratic Party”; it runs through Oct. 22 — that 200 of them would be driven the few blocks uptown on double-decker buses to Trump Tower, where president Donald Trump is staying during his brief visit (Moore encouraged the rest of the audience to walk over as well). The demonstration — which doubled as a candlelight vigil for Charlottesville, Va., victim Heather Heyer — followed the rally that took place the day before, when Trump first arrived in NYC. It was further fueled by Trump's divisive defense of the weekend's White Nationalist Rally, which was broadcast a few hours before the play began.
After a short bus ride up Sixth Avenue, Moore addressed the crowd outside Trump Tower. "He's in there right now," he said, pointing up to Trump's penthouse. "We are here to perform a citizen's arrest — well, there's lots of police here, maybe they'll do it for us! It'd be easier, right?"
Ruffalo kicked off the chants with a brief speech. "We're here today to commemorate a life of an American that was killed by a Nazi on American soil. Let's say her name so Donald Trump can hear what's happened here — he's allowed these people, he's allowed fascism, he's allowed the KKK, he's allowed Nazis to show their ugly face, and we're here to remind him there's a cost for that. Americans have died because of that. Say her name: Heather Heyer!"
Olivia Wilde and Tom Sturridge, currently starring in the Broadway play 1984 next door to Moore, joined the demonstration immediately after their own performance. Wilde was spontaneously asked to lead a chant: "Stand up for justice! Stand up for America! Trump is not a legitimate president! Trump is not America!" Zoe Kazan, wearing a tee that read "Choose Love," also led one: "We reject fascism! We reject white supremacy! We reject Neo-Nazis! We will not accept white supremacy in the White House!"
Before the rally, Ruffalo referred to the audience as "the Avengers" and commented on Trump's press conference. "It was very disconcerting.... Basically our president today backed up and supported the Nazi, alt-right, KKK, and equated the left to the Nazis, as if there’s two sides. Back when we fought World War II and there were two sides, it was the Nazis and the rest of the world trying to stop them, and that’s where we find ourselves in America today, sadly. But we have a president that instead of standing up against them, actually [is] making excuses for them," he said. "I’m actually really heartbroken, since this death and this violence and this whole new political paradigm that we find ourselves in where Nazis are actually out in the open without their hoods and without hiding, killing Americans — I’m really sad. I’m really scared." Still, he added a bit of advice: "If you're losing hope, you're not doing enough."
Moore also addressed Trump's defense of the Charlottesville rally at the top of the show, when he usually discusses the latest headlines. "None of us can remember when an American president defended white nationalists.... After it was over, I had tears in my eyes, because it really showed me that this guy is not just crazy — he has an agenda, and he's mad that he said what they made him say, and he walked it all back." He closed the opening section with a joke: "When they finally indict him, when they finally arrest him, my only real question is, Do they try him as an adult?"
Though the post-show protests were initially teased when the new production was announced in May, Tuesday night’s demonstration was the first time the plan was executed during the show’s Broadway run. "There might be some impromptu excursions after the show to places that might be nearby. You can do the math," director Michael Mayer told reporters at the time. "I think everyone’s going to be having a unique, exciting and politically incendiary experience."
The protest — during which the speech portion lasted 15 minutes, and wrapped two hours after the show's curtain — was filled with fellow protestors (and, of course, those hoping to see a celebrity and get a movie poster signed by Moore). Wearing a cap that read "No Surrender," Moore shared his gratitude while leaving the Midtown intersection: "Thanks everybody for participating in this."
Lauren Huff contributed to this report.