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Ryan Murphy is putting together an all-star cast for his latest film project, the big-screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning drama The Normal Heart, being produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B shingle.
Julia Roberts and Alec Baldwin, plus White Collar star Matt Bomer and Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, are joining Mark Ruffalo in the autobiographical drama, written by Larry Kramer, that details the rise of HIV/AIDS in New York’s gay community in the 1980s. Murphy, who hit mainstream success with Glee, is directing from a script by Kramer.
The play won the Tony for best revival last year, as well as best supporting actor and best supporting actress (for John Benjamin Hickey and Ellen Barkin, respectively). It also garnered nominations for best actor and best directing. It was originally staged Off-Broadway in 1985 and has seen several revivals in London and Los Angeles.
Murphy optioned the rights to the play last August and had Ruffallo attached as Ned Weeks, who is one of the first to raise an alarm when what was then known as “gay cancer” surfaces in New York.
Roberts will play Emma Brookner, a wheel-chair bound doctor who is one of the only doctors in New York talking the new disease seriously. That role is the one that won Barkin her Tony.
Baldwin is playing Weeks’ brother, a lawyer having a hard time dealing with his sibling’s sexuality.
Bomer’s character is that of Felix Turner, a gay fashion journalist who becomes Week’s boyfriend and tragically contracts the disease. Bomer will be stepping into the shoes that won Hickey his Tony.
Parsons, who acted in the Broadway version, will reprise his role, that of a Southererner who is a gay activist and part of a gay men’s health crisis group.
Murphy’s last film was Eat, Pray, Love, which starred Roberts. With Glee and his FX series American Horror Story, he is one of the few writer/directors who regularly tackle gay themes to both critical and popular success.
CAA is putting together the financing and insiders say Participant Pictures is circling.
Roberts (CAA, Hirsch Wallerstein) next stars in Relativity’s Snow White fairy tale Mirror Mirror while Baldwin (CAA, N2N Entertainment) next appears in New Line’s adaptation of the Broadway hit Rock of Ages.
The next feature for Bomer (CAA, Anonymous Content) will be the Steven Soberbergh movie on male exotic dancers Magic Mike, while Parsons (UTA, Principal Entertainment, Hansen Jacobson) had a scene-stealing cameo in The Muppets.
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