Ryan Murphy Calls THE NORMAL HEART 'Modern', Emphasizes Project as 'Love Story'
The Hollywood Reporter writes that Ryan Murphy and the cast of HBO's upcoming TV movie adaptation of THE NORMAL HEART gathered tonight, January 9, to preview the film. The movie is based on Larry Kramer's Tony-winning play about the '80s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Throughout the event, director Murphy discussed adding new material and his perspective on what he considers a passion project.
"This is similar to the play and very different. I worked with Larry on the script for three years; we broke it out to 40- to 45 percent new matieral and it's pretty broken out from the play," Murphy said.
Commenting on the timeliness of the story, Murphy said: "Larry wrote that play with the idea that silence does equal death. When people were writing about it, there were no solutions. It ends in '84 but what it's about feels modern to me with gay marriage in the news and people fighting to be loved and accepted for who they are. It's still very modern and very applicable to the way we're living today."
He continued: "We're looking at an epidemic as seen through a love story."
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Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo ("The Kids Are All Right"), Matt Bomer ("White Collar"), Taylor Kitsch ("Lone Survivor"), Emmy(R) winner Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") and Academy Award winner Julia Roberts star in the film, HBO Films' presentation of THE NORMAL HEART.
Directed by Emmy winner Ryan Murphy ("Eat Pray Love," "Glee") and written by Academy Award nominee Larry Kramer ("Women in Love"), adapting his groundbreaking Tony Award-winning play of the same name, the drama tells the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS Crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, taking an unflinching look at the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial. THE NORMAL HEART will debut exclusively on HBO in May.
The film also stars Alfred Molina ("An Education"), Tony Award winner Joe Mantello ("Law & Order"), Jonathan Groff (HBO's "Looking"), Denis O'Hare (HBO's "True Blood"), Stephen Spinella ("Milk"), Corey Stoll ("House of Cards"), Finn Wittrock ("Unbroken") and BD Wong (HBO's "Oz"). An HBO Films presentation of a Plan B and Blumhouse production in association with Ryan Murphy Productions, THE NORMAL HEART is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Dante di Loreto ("Glee"), Jason Blum (the "Paranormal Activity" series), Brad Pitt ("Moneyball"), Dede Gardner ("12 Years a Slave"). Mark Ruffalo co-executive produces; Scott Ferguson (HBO's "Temple Grandin") produces.
Ruffalo portrays Ned Weeks, who witnesses first-hand a mysterious disease that has begun to claim the lives of many in his gay community and starts to seek answers. Matt Bomer plays Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned's lover. Taylor Kitsch plays Bruce Niles, a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist. Jim Parsons plays gay activist Tommy Boatwright, reprising his role from the 2011 Broadway revivAl. Roberts plays physician Dr. Emma Brookner, a Survivor of childhood polio who treats several of the earliest victims of HIV-AIDS.
Alfred Molina plays Ned's older brother, Ben, who is a successful attorney. Joe Mantello plays Mickey Marcus, who is an instrumental member of the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Jonathan Groff plays Craig, Bruce's lover, an early victim of HIV-AIDS. Denis O'Hare portrays Hiram Keebler, Mayor Koch's gay aide. Stephen Spinella plays Sanford, one of Dr. Brookner's first patients. Corey Stoll portrays presidential senior advisor John Bower. Finn Wittrock plays Albert, a male model. BD Wong portrays Buzzy, a nurse who works with Dr. Brookner.
In 1981, writer Larry Kramer hosted a gathering of six gay men and their friends to discuss the "gay cancer," and to talk about fundraising for research. This informal meeting in Kramer's home would lead to the formation of Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), one of the first advocacy groups for HIV prevention and care.
Kramer's play debuted at New York's Public Theatre in 1985 and was revived in Los Angeles and London, and off-Broadway. The 2011 Broadway revival garnered five Tony nominations, winning for Best Revival, Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress.
The talented behind-the-scenes team includes production designer Shane Valentino ("Beginners"), director of photography Danny Moder ("Jesus Henry Christ"), editor Adam Penn ("American Horror Story"), costumer designer Daniel Orlandi (HBO's "Game Change"), composer Cliff Martinez ("Drive") and casting directors Amanda Mackey ("The Proposal") and Cathy Sandrich Gelfond ("Ronin").