Tony Winner Larry Kramer Commissioned to Pen Normal Heart Sequel for HBO
By Michael Gioia
HBO has commissioned Larry Kramer — whose Tony Award-winning play The Normal Heart will premiere on HBO in May — to pen a potential sequel to the film adaptation, according to Deadline.com.
Director Ryan Murphy, an executive producer on the film, would be back to direct, and the film's stars (Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons) and producing team (Murphy, Kramer, Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante Di Loreto) are expected to return.
The sequel would chronicle events from 1987 through the 1990s, and the character of Ned Weeks (modeled after Kramer and played by Ruffalo) would become an AIDS activist.
Kramer's 1992 play The Destiny of Me followed The Normal Heart and focused on Ned Weeks as he checks into the National Institute of Health to undergo an experimental treatment for AIDS. The work was staged Off-Broadway by the Circle Repertory Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre and featured Jonathan Hadary as Ned.
"The Normal Heart," about gay life in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, was shot in New York City last summer. Kramer adapted his play, which took home the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival, for the film.
Academy Award winner Roberts is cast as Dr. Emma Brookner, with 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, will play 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."
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