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Weekend Movies (on TV): 'The Normal Heart'

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Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer find love in a hopeless place in "The Normal Heart"

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

It's time for that other most-famous AIDS play to have its moment in the television sun. Larry Kramer's "THE NORMAL HEART," arrived Off Broadway in 1985, a half decade or so before Tony Kushner's long since canonized "Angels in America," but it's taken a longer and more circuitous route to mainstream fame. It's HBO to the rescue again with a television adaptation, which, as with the fate of Angels, came on the heels of a long gestating but never-meant-to-be movie version. (Barbra Streisand tried for years to mount a film version of The Normal Heart giving herself the plum role of Emma Brookner a.k.a. 'Doctor Death')

Though it rarely does Kramer's 'Heart' any favors to compare it to the later masterwork, it's hard not to. They're linked in time structure, setting, historical record, and now in HBO incarnations. Think of The Normal Heart as Angels in America's angrier cruder earth-bound cousin. It doesn't bother with symbolism, poetry or spirituality - whether that's through lack of ability, desire, or bilious rejection of the escapist side of the fantastical who can say? Instead, it finds its power in fragile bodies and righteous rage in the face of mundane defeats and every day humiliations.

Which is why it's a little surprising at first to begin with the elemental: the open air, the sun and a glide over the water (supertitle: "1981") as we head to Fire Island.

More, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mark Ruffalo Reveals His Initial Concerns Over Taking on a Gay Role in ‘The Normal Heart’

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In an interview with co-star Julia Roberts for Interview magazine, Mark Ruffalo revealed he was initially hesitant about his participation in HBO’s upcoming film The Normal Heart - believing that the role of Ned Weeks was too politically important for a straight actor to play.

Said Ruffalo:

“I'd heard about [director Ryan Murphy] and I was a little nervous about saying no without at least speaking to him, giving him the respect that he deserves. We met, and my thinking at the time was, ‘Aren't we at the place in our culture, in our development, where a gay man should be playing this part?’ That was kind of a concern for me. Politically speaking, it felt like that was the right thing for this play and for this movie at this time.”And Ryan said, very clearly, ‘That's the antithesis of what this movie is about. It doesn't matter what your sexual preference is. It matters what actor I think should play this part.’”

He added:

“[Ryan Murphy] was kind of ahead of me in his development. Here's this gay man in Hollywood, who could easily have had a political agenda, basically saying no. It also signalled what this movie was going to be. When it lived as a play, it was very political. It was a polemic. It was designed to agitate and to be very confrontational. But where Ryan was taking it, beyond the politics, really ignited me. I said yes!”

The Normal Heart premieres tomorrow on HBO and stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, and Jim Parsons. The film, an adaption of a play by Larry Kramer, chronicles the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City as seen through the eyes of an activist. 

You can check out three new clips and a featurette of the film here


Ryan Murphy On Filming Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer’s Sex Scenes in 'The Normal Heart' – AUDIO

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With the release of HBO’s upcoming adaption of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart right around the corner, director Ryan Murphy recently spoke with Michelangelo Signorile about the film - detailing some of the challenges that went into shooting the intense sex scenes between Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer.

Ryan murphyMurphy said that both Bomer and Ruffalo had never dealt with that level of sexuality on camera before and were initially “terrified” of the shoot, despite Murphy bringing in a “sex choreographer” to help ease the actors’ tension.

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP

And head over to The Huffington Post to check out the full interview.

The Normal Heart stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, and Jim Parsons, and chronicles the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City as seen through the eyes of an activist. The film arrives May 25.  

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New Trailer for HBO's 'The Normal Heart': VIDEO

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A new trailer has arrived for HBO's adaptation of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart.

The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, and Jim Parsons, and chronicles the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City as seen through the eyes of an activist.

The HBO film is directed by Ryan Murphy and arrives on May 25.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can check out an earlier trailer HERE.

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'American Horror Story: Coven' RECAP - 'Go To Hell' [Spoilers]

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Well, that was a whopper of an episode, was it not? This week, we said goodbye to some huge characters, leading up to what's bound to be a blood-soaked finale.

We also got a sneak peek into the Seven Wonders: telekinesis, concilium (mind control), transmutation (teleportation), divination, vitalum vitalis (balancing life force), descensum (journeying into the afterlife) and pyrokinesis. We also learned that those who attempt the Seven Wonders risk killing themselves in the process, raising the stakes significantly for next week's finale.

With just one week left until we find out who will be the next Supreme, relive the latest developments for all our favorite witches, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Bomer, Kitsch, Parsons, Ruffalo, and Roberts Gather to Preview 'The Normal Heart'

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(image source)

The cast of The Normal Heart  — Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, and director Ryan Murphy — assembled at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena to preview the upcoming HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's iconic play on Thursday.

The Hollywood Reporter has a good wrap-up of the Q&A event:

[Julia] Roberts, meanwhile, noted she'd been approached to play the part [of Dr. Emma Brookner, a polio survivor who treats several of the early victims of HIV/AIDS] before but turned it down because she couldn't understand just who the character was at her core. But when Murphy called, the actress watched a documentary on polio and it all came together, prompting her to join the production. "It unlocked the door to who this woman is to me and where her ferocious, relentless pursuit of correctness comes from," Roberts said. "It was such a beautiful experience to get to play her and get to pay tribute to a person who never let anything stand between her and the right thing to do for someone else."

Asked if it was a priority to cast openly gay actors in the project -- both Bomer and Parsons are out -- Murphy noted he went after the best actor, gay or straight. "We never went after anyone based on sexuality," he said, noting that the world has changed a lot in the past five years.

Parsons and Bomer, for their part, noted that they don't think of themselves as gay actors but rather just actors. "I was only anxious about when the conversation would happen," the Big Bang Theory star said. "Then it happened and it was out there, and it was no big deal -- and that was a relief."

The film debuts in May. Some of the first footage was released in an HBO promo in December. Hopefully we'll get a full trailer soon, as one was shown at TCA.


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