Directed by Emmy winner Murphy (“Eat Pray Love,” “Glee”), the film was shot in New York City last summer. Kramer adapted his play for the film.
Academy Award winner Roberts is cast as Dr. Emma Brookner, with Matt Bomer as Felix Turner, Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, Taylor Kitsch as Bruce Niles, and Parsons reprising the role of Tommy Boatwright that he played on Broadway. Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, who portrayed Ned Weeks in the 2011 Broadway premiere of Kramer's play, plays Mickey Marcus.
The cast also features Jonathan Groff ( Spring Awakening), Stephen Spinella, Normal Heart Broadway co-director Joel Grey ( Cabaret), Denis O'Hare ( Take Me Out), B.D. Wong ( M. Butterfly), Alfred Molina ( Red), Corey Stoll ( A View from the Bridge) and Finn Wittrock ( Death of a Salesman).
Here's how HBO breaks down the casting: "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. Bomer plays Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned’s lover. Kitsch plays Bruce Niles, a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist. Parsons plays gay activist Tommy Boatwright... Roberts plays physician Dr. Emma Brookner, a survivor of childhood polio who treats several of the earliest victims of HIV-AIDS. "Molina plays Ned’s older brother, Ben, who is a successful attorney. Mantello plays Mickey Marcus, who is an instrumental member of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Groff plays Craig, Bruce’s lover, an early victim of HIV-AIDS. O’Hare portrays Hiram Keebler, Mayor Koch's gay aide. Spinella plays Sanford, one of Dr. Brookner’s first patients. Stoll portrays presidential senior advisor John Bower. Wittrock plays Albert, a male model. Wong portrays Buzzy, a nurse who works with Dr. Brookner."
Executive-produced by Murphy, Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante Di Loreto, " The Normal Heart," according to press notes, "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 fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city in denial."
The creative team for the film includes production designer Shane Valentino, director of photography Danny Moder, editor Adam Penn, costume designer Daniel Orlandi and composer Cliff Martinez.
Kramer’s play debuted at New York’s Public Theater in 1985. The 2011 Broadway revival garnered five Tony nominations, winning for Best Revival, Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress.