By Andrew Gans
21 Jan 2012
As previously reported, Mark Ruffalo will play Ned Weeks, the hero of the drama about fear in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Tony winner Joe Mantello played that part in the recent Broadway production.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ruffalo will be joined by Oscar winner Julia Roberts as wheelchair user Dr. Emma Brookner (the role that won Ellen Barkin a Tony), who becomes an AIDS activist; Emmy winner Alec Baldwin as Weeks' lawyer brother; and Matt Bomer as Felix Turner, a gay fashion journalist who falls in love with Weeks (John Benjamin Hickey won a Tony for his portrayal of Turner on Broadway). Jim Parsons will reprise his Broadway role of a Southern gay activist.
Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment will produce the film along with director Murphy. Playwright Kramer wrote the screenplay.
"The story of a city in denial," The Normal Heart, according to press notes for the Broadway run, "unfolds like a real-life political thriller — as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. First produced by Joseph Papp at New York's Public Theater, the play was a critical sensation and a seminal moment in theater history. So ahead of its time was this play that many of the core issues it addresses — including gay marriage, the healthcare system and, of course, AIDS — are just as relevant today as they were when it first premiered."
Murphy previously told Deadline.com, "'The Normal Heart' is the thing that I’m going to do next. I optioned it and there's a brilliant script that Larry Kramer wrote and I’m going to do that with Mark Ruffalo and maybe [Julia] Roberts. I believe in that play."
The Broadway premiere of Larry Kramer's ground-breaking play The Normal Heart, which won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, played the final performance of its limited, 12-week engagement July 10, 2011. Produced by Daryl Roth and directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart began performances April 19, 2011, at the Golden Theatre and opened to rave reviews April 27. When it closed, the acclaimed production had played 85 performances.