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Ryan Murphy pays tribute to playwright Larry Kramer as ‘most important’ gay rights activist

Larry Kramer
Larry Kramer at The Normal Heart premiere. Pic credit: @ImageCollect.com/Globe-Photos

Ryan Murphy gave a moving tribute to playwright Larry Kramer on Wednesday — after Kramer passed away at the age of 84.

Kramer’s partner, David Webster, told The New York Times that he had been suffering through a bout of pneumonia.

A number of celebrities have posted on social media about the death of Kramer, but Murphy took to Instagram to share an extended story about knowing the man very well.

Ryan Murphy honors Larry Kramer

Murphy — a director, screenwriter, and producer — captioned his photo of a younger Kramer with an explanation of how he had known the man. “I first met Larry Kramer in 2012. The film rights to his groundbreaking play ‘The Normal Heart’ had become available, and I wanted them.”

Murphy went on to explain how the meeting went, stating that, “We had a wonderful first meeting, he was kind and excited about my casting ideas — Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts (who would both go on to do the HBO film with us).”

In addition to noting that he admired Kramer “above all others,” Murphy also said that he loved Kramer’s passion, as well as working with him.

Speaking about Kramer’s work, Murphy wrote the following:

“Larry knew the value of his work, his life, all gay people’s lives — and his fundamental stubborn belief in equality for all made him perhaps the single greatest and most important gay activist of all time.

His fight against government, discrimination, prejudice and big Pharma helped save millions of lives. His fight changed the health care system as we know it.”

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I first met Larry Kramer in 2012. The film rights to his groundbreaking play "The Normal Heart" had become available, and I wanted them. We had a wonderful first meeting, he was kind and excited about my casting ideas — Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts (who would both go on to do the HBO film with us). From there we got into negotiations, and he said he wanted one million dollars for the rights. "Larry!" I said, "that's a lot of money for a low budget film!" He paused and said "it's what I'm worth." I paid it. And I'm so glad I did. Larry knew the value of his work, his life, all gay people's lives — and his fundamental stubborn belief in equality for all made him perhaps the single greatest and most important gay activist of all time. His fight against government, discrimination, prejudice and big Pharma helped save millions of lives. His fight changed the health care system as we know it. I admired him above all others. He deserved the Medal of Freedom. I loved working with him, his passion. I eventually even came to love our fights. I won a Golden Globe one year, and the first call I got the next morning was from Larry. "I'm glad you won, but I hated seeing you there," he sniffed. "Larry, you should be happy for me!" I said. "Well, I'm not," he replied. "Because you should have been at home working on our project." He was terrified after 30 years of development hell it wouldn't be made, that his tale of AIDS and rage and beauty would never be seen widely by young people. But we got it made. He cried when he saw the first cut. "All my friends, all my generation, gone…and it's fucking unfair it didn't need to happen" he said. Up until the end, we were still plotting. I recently bought the stage rights to do "The Normal Heart" and "The Destiny of Me" in rep on Broadway. He was so passionate and so vital I never imagined he would pass. I thought he'd outlive us all. His work and his spirit will. In his memory, watch "The Normal Heart" on HBO today. Or better yet, send an outraged email or tweet to a neglectful politician of your choice. He would have liked that.

A post shared by Ryan Murphy (@mrrpmurphy) on

Ryan Murphy bought The Normal Heart from Larry Kramer

As Murphy mentioned in his post, he entered negotiations and eventually bought the rights to turn The Normal Heart into a film.

The Glee creator and man behind American Horror Story brought The Normal Heart to HBO in 2014 and the rest is history, as Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo helped turn it into a winner.

But the man behind the story — Larry Kramer — still deserves most of the credit for the story that was well worth telling. Even if it did cost Murphy $1 million to get the rights from Kramer.

Toward the end of his tribute, Murphy also referenced how he was still in contact with Kramer about working on future projects.

Murphy wrote, “Up until the end, we were still plotting. I recently bought the stage rights to do ‘The Normal Heart’ and ‘The Destiny of Me’ in rep on Broadway. He was so passionate and so vital I never imagined he would pass. I thought he’d outlive us all. His work and his spirit will.”


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