On May 25th, Ryan Murphy’s film version of Larry Karmer’s seminal play about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in New York, The Normal Heart, debuts on HBO in the US. This week THR chronicles the long journey to get the play to the screen – an odyssey that’s been going on ever since it debuted on stage in 1985.
Along with the piece are plenty of quotes from the film’s stars, including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Mark Ruffalo & Taylor Kitsch, as well as a great photoshoot, where they’re all looking pretty awesome.
As the article relates, it wasn’t too long after The Normal Heart caused a sensation on stage in 1985 that Hollywood came sniffing. That included Barbra Streisand, who tied up the rights for years, often seeming as if she was going to nearing the point she’d get it on screen, but never quite doing so. Others attached or interested at various timse include John Schlesinger, Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes. It eventually took Murphy and HBO to do it – as Ryan says, “Larry had his heart broken so many times, I promised him I would not stop until it got made.”
Normal Heart’s journey to the screen is a truly fascinating tale, which is as much about changing attitudes to HIV and gay people as it is about the difficulties of Hollywood (and the fact Kramer isn’t always the easiest of collaborators).
It’s also interesting to note that while making the movie for HBO is seen by some as having to settle for the poor relation of cinema, the pay-TV network actually gave Ryan Murphy a larger budget (around $18 million) than he probably would have had if it had been an indie feature.
There are plenty of good nuggets about the actual movie in the article too, such as Matt Bomer’s need to lose weight to play an AIDS victim. He left his family for a few weeks that were “really monastic and solitary — to create the physical reality of what Felix [his character] was going through.”
However he was happy to do it as, “The piece meant so much to me. People like Larry and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP were the catalysts for the gay rights movement, and we stand on their shoulders.”
Ruffalo adds, “The play served as an agitprop theater piece when that kind of politics and strategy really needed to be employed. The movie opened up a much more humanistic and universal tale about love, mostly about love.”
And while it’s taken 30 years to get the movie made, Jim Parsons feels it’s a good time for a film version. He says, “We’re at another really right time for this story. I felt it doing the play [on Broadway] and I feel it now that the movie is about to come out. Time has been very good to Larry’s script. This story has only gotten richer.”
Head here to read the full story and take a look at some of the great pics from the cast shoot below.