An exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at a project led by Ryan Murphy and HRC, as a parade of A-list talent paid tribute to those who died at Pulse to create a short film and push for change.
Nobody knew what to do, but everybody wanted to do something. The June 12 mass shooting that claimed 49 lives at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, unfolded more than 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles — but the grief and frustration over an increasingly familiar narrative left many people in Hollywood searching a meaningful way to respond.
The recipient of many blind offers of service was Ryan Murphy. The producer’s phone rang frequently in the days following the attack at Pulse, with one call coming from Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. The two quickly crafted a plan to recruit 49 altruistic celebrities to memorialize each of the Orlando victims by reading a brief eulogy of their lives, editing the clips to construct a 18-minute film that will live online starting June 29.
Anger and grief were palpable during production on the video, filmed primarily over two days on the 20th Century Fox Studios lot where Murphy produces his substantial roster of shows that include American Horror Story, Scream Queens and the upcoming Katrina: American Crime Story. Drawing from their Rolodexes, Murphy and Griffin recruited talent to read the miniature biographies, also relying on CAA’s Bryan Lourd and power publicist Simon Halls.
The list of familiar faces that then showed up to participate in the project is formidable. Chris Pine, Laverne Cox, Cuba Gooding Jr., Connie Britton, Caitlyn Jenner, Matt Bomer and Angela Bassett make up just a sliver of the individuals who paid visit to the somber set.