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Mark Ruffalo to Star in Film Adaptation of 'The Normal Heart'


At the junket for The Kids Are All Right (which he's great in, btw), Mark Ruffalo tells MTV News that he's going to star in Larry Kramer's adaptation of his semi-autobiographical play The Normal Heart.

Says Ruffalo of The Normal Heart: "It's basically a story of when the AIDS outbreak happened in New York. It wasn't really taken seriously, I think specifically because it was 'the gay cancer,' they called it. I think it's a really interesting time in America. I think to see someone who really does change the world by his commitment and he's even totally by himself at times, there's still a real power in that. I love that it's a people-powered movement that actually changed the way our government looked at this epidemic. I think there's a real powerful message to that and something that we forget. We can get really cynical about what we can do, it gets stacked against us and they're all corrupt — and at the end of the day, everything starts with people. The reason they're there is because of us...It's a juicy part. It's just a great role, man. He's a fighter, you know?" 

Ryan Murphy is involved in the production as well, though in what capacity is not clear.


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  1. I guess since current images of people living with HIV are about as exciting as images of people living with Diabetes, Normal Heart needs to be made into a movie so we don't forget the horrors of HIV/AIDS pre-1995?

    Posted by: J.P. | Jul 1, 2010 10:32:05 AM

  2. Haven't seen The Normal Heart, so it could well be amazing. I much prefer the lyrical beauty of Holleran and White to the stark confrontational prose of Kramer. Also, I abhor overalls.

    But hasn't this time period been told? Like a dozen times.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 1, 2010 10:38:50 AM

  3. And horrors there were, and heartbreak, and suffering and despair, and disillusion and pain and loss and death.
    All credit to those activists in ACT UP and Larry Kramer and the other pressure groups who stormed the Bastille and got some people to wake up and take notice.
    No revisionism; it was the worst of times.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 1, 2010 10:42:53 AM

  4. It's actually a really great play. And wonderful to see the beginning of GMHC.

    It just seems a little sad it took SO LONG to get this done. Barbra Streisand was supposed to do it like last century.

    Now I've only read the play and have never seen it done (I did see its sequel The Destiny of Me with Jonathan Hadary and John Cameron Mitchell back in the day) . . . but isn't Ned supposed to be a bit more well . . . like Larry Kramer. Mark Ruffalo seems a bit chill for the part. Then again Brad Davis played Ned originally and he was pretty chill too.

    We'll see (although I do hope they cast some actual gays in some of the supporting roles).

    Posted by: Alejandro | Jul 1, 2010 10:51:51 AM

  5. Mark Ruffalo is an excellent actor, and I hope this gives his career an added boost. More than that, I hope today's Young Gay Urban Professionals, many of whom don't take the risk of HIV infections all that seriously, see it and reconsider their complacency.

    Posted by: Rick S. | Jul 1, 2010 11:04:31 AM

  6. Crispy, I think it's always worth reminding younger generations of the past. The message coming out of that era is the power of the people to change the way government treats them. That alone is good enough reason to make this play into a movie. Who knows, we might need reminding of that as the GOP systematically start destroying the country when Palin is made President !!

    Posted by: paul | Jul 1, 2010 11:07:42 AM

  7. Barbra Streisand has been working on this project with Kramer for decades and unfortunately it looks like she might not be involved at this point. Like many others I had hoped this would be her crowning directorial effort to cap her unparalleled career.

    Sadly, when you have two monstrous yet genius egos like Streisand and Kramer it must be difficult to agree. Perhaps the true pre-production facts of the last 25 years will never be known.

    Streisand fans are anxious for Barbra to bookend her career with a another film triumph.

    Posted by: Max F. Grump | Jul 1, 2010 11:13:17 AM

  8. That is FINALLY getting made is wonderful. It's not a "period piece." It's an important part of our history and a story that is far from over. Ruffalo's an excellent choice, and the fact that he knows that Larry and ACT-UP changed the way medicine is practiced in this country is more than refreshing.

    Meanwhile everyone should put Andre Techine's "The Witnesses" on their Netflix queque. made a few eyars ago it's about how th epidemic first impacted French gays -- and it's insightful and heartbreaking.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 1, 2010 11:33:42 AM

  9. I'm astonished that it passed through Streisand's hands--I know she and Kramer had been battling over the script for more than 15 years. I thought she would've done it for her son Jason, who's openly living with HIV. (Hey, if she dedicated "Yentl" to her father...) Kramer was furious with her when she chose to do "The Mirror Has Two Faces" instead (which she'd been sitting on since the early 80's), not to mention "Meet the Fockers," but maybe she was trying to stockpile some cash and still somehow be involved in producing this. Streisand did host an all-star reading of the script back in the 90's which was put on CD, with Eric Bogosian throwing down as Ned, and a titanic performance by Stockard Channing as the main doctor at the start of the epidemic; if you can track it down, Channing's Act II monologue is one of the most brilliant and stunning things you'll ever hear.

    OK, fantasy casting: who should play the doctor, Ned's uptight straight brother, and Ned's lover Felix? I vote for Tilda Swinton or Michelle Pfeiffer, John C. Reilly as the brother, and Hugh Jackman or Neil Patrick Harris as Felix.

    Posted by: Dback | Jul 1, 2010 11:49:46 AM

  10. I'm excited about this, and regardless if the story has been told "--a dozen times", it's still relevant to todays world.

    Curious though...isn't Mark Ruflao the actor who was doing a paranoid press junket a few months ago whining and groaning because people thought he might be gay? If so, why is he taking on this project? Did he magically $$ overcome his paranoia? If I'm wrong on this I apologize.

    Posted by: GeoffM | Jul 1, 2010 12:26:16 PM

  11. There is literally not an actor on the planet as cuddly as Mark Ruffalo.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jul 1, 2010 1:17:13 PM

  12. It is a brilliant, emotionally scalding "overalls," no political demonstrations, but calls for them and how the disease, the government's cruel indifference to it, and the public's cruel hostility affect the characters.

    But I'll let some of its lines speak for themselves:

    "BRUCE: Albert, I think I loved him best of all and he went so fast. His mother wanted him back in Phoenix before he I get permission from Emma and bundle him all up and take him to the plane in an ambulance. The pilot wouldn’t take off and I refused to leave the plane—you would have been proud of me—so finally they get another pilot. Then, after we take off, Albert loses his mind, not recognizing me, not knowing where he is or that he’s going home, and the, right there, on the plane he becomes...incontinent. He starts doing it in his pants and all over the seat; shit, piss, everything. I pulled down my suitcase and yanked out whatever clothes were in there and I start mopping him up as best I can, and all these people are staring at us and moving away in droves and...I ram all these clothers back in the suitcase and I sit there holding his hand, saying, ‘Albert, please, no more, hold it in, man, I beg you, just for us, for Bruce and Albert’. And when we got to Phoenix, there’s a police van waiting for us and all the police are in complete protective rubber clothing, they look like fucking astronauts, and by the time we got to the hospital where his mother had fixed up his room real nice, Albert was dead.

    (NED starts toward him.)

    Wait, it gets worse. The hospital doctors refused to examine him to put a cause of death on the death certificate, and without a death certificate the undertakers wouldn’t take him away, and neither would the police. Finally, some orderly comes in and stuffs Albert in a heavy-duty GLAD bag and motions us with his fingers to follow him and he puts him in the back alley with the garbage. He says, 'Hey, man. See what a big favor I’ve done for you, I got him out, I want fifty bucks’. I paid him and then his mother and I carried the bag to her car and we finally found a black undertaker who cremated him for a thousand dollars, no questions asked.

    (NED crosses to BRUCE and embraces him; BRUCE puts his arms around NED.)

    BRUCE: Would you and Felix mind if I spent the night on your sofa? Just one night. I don’t want to go home.”

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 1, 2010 1:30:53 PM

  13. I'm disappointed that Ruffalo has been cast because this role really belongs to an openly gay actor rather then another role for a heterosexual actor. The straight community complains today that gay actors, no matter how gorgeous or handsome or straight appearing, cannot play straight romantic roles because their homosexuality overshadows their credibility. It works both ways. Who is going to believe Mark Ruffalo is gay knowing he is in reality a heterosexual? He knows nothing about making love or loving another man yet we're supposed to believe he does because, well, he's an actor and actors act, don't they? How is that any different from a gay man acting in a heterosexual role?

    Society can't have it both ways.

    Posted by: The OS2Guy | Jul 1, 2010 1:32:56 PM

  14. @Dback

    Since when is Jason Gould openly living with HIV?

    Posted by: John | Jul 1, 2010 1:56:38 PM

  15. OS2GUY, I don't think Ned has to be played by an openly gay actor, but given the history of this play, I would hope they cast some openly gay folks in the other roles.

    I normally don't care about the actors' sexuality, but for some reason, with this movie, this story I do want to know some of the people cast in the film are gay and out.

    Posted by: Alejandro | Jul 1, 2010 2:09:58 PM

  16. John, I think it was reported in the media about 7-8 years ago. I sincerely hope he's still healthy and doing well, he's a talented actor/director in his own right.

    Posted by: Dback | Jul 1, 2010 3:47:24 PM

  17. This was turning into another one of those "Front Runner" it will never get made projects. It's a very political angry play.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jul 1, 2010 5:45:59 PM

  18. Where are the openly gay major actors in Hollywood? It's been over 110 years since Hollywood films were first created and still no openly gay major actors. Until that changes I won't want any film where a haterosexual plays a gay character.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 1, 2010 11:06:34 PM

  19. Oh for crying out loud, you people will never be happy until every actor announced they're gay and every single movie ever made is about gay people.

    Bill, you're the worst of all.

    Posted by: Glenn | Jul 2, 2010 2:55:52 AM

  20. I'd watch Mark Ruffalo read the phone book, let alone bring Larry Kramer's masterpiece to life! Streisand and an openly-gay lead aside, I'm just glad these powerful stories may finally get seen by the masses.

    Posted by: Dano | Jul 6, 2010 6:59:14 AM

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