Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons Praise Larry Kramer at HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’ Premiere

Matt Bomer, Ryan Murphy, Julia Roberts,
Dave Allocca/StarTraks Photo

It’s no secret Ryan Murphy assembled a wide pool of recognizable names for HBO’s movie adaptation of “The Normal Heart.” Possibly the most surprising among those names? Jason Blum, the producer known for his Blumhouse empire of low-budget horror hits including “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge.”

Blum, who worked with Murphy on a remake of “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” is an exec producer on “Normal Heart,” the pic that had its premiere May 12 at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater before it bows on HBO May 25. The movie is already gaining buzz as a shoulda-been contender for film-world awards.

“We thought about doing it theatrically,” said Blum on his way in to the screening. “But many, many more people will see the movie on HBO, and HBO gave us so much more freedom and resources than a distributor would have. “

A number of the film’s cast members had a history with Larry Kramer’s 1985 play. Both Denis O’Hare (“American Horror Story,” “True Blood”) and Joe Mantello had starred in stage productions as protagonist Ned Weeks, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the film. Mantello led the cast of the 2011 Broadway revival that also starred Jim Parsons — who takes on the same role in the pic he played onstage.

Whereas the Broadway revival was a minimalist staging, Parsons had props and sets to get him into the 1980s New York setting of the story.

“I did make one huge mistake,” he recalled. “They needed some people to smoke for one scene, because smoking was a lot more prevalent back then, and I said, ‘What the hell, I’ll do it.’ It’s not a very long scene, but it’s a movie, so we shot that scene for hours. My own mouth tasted so bad to me!”

All of the collaborators couldn’t say enough about Kramer, who finally got to see his play on screen after 30 years (and is now at work on a sequel for HBO). It was particularly gratifying for Ruffalo, whose role is the story’s obvious stand-in for Kramer.

“The last time I saw Larry he was very very ill,” he said. “So it was very moving for me to see him standing here tonight, looking so divine.”

(Pictured: Matt Bomer, Ryan Murphy, Julia Roberts, Larry Kramer and Mark Ruffalo at “The Normal Heart” premiere at the Ziegfield)

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  1. I saw THE NORMAL HEART this weekend. Outstanding acting. Fascinating story. I’m a heterosexual male, married almost 41 years, age 76! This fine production educated me, shocked me, and made me angry with our government and gays of that time that simply refused to acknowledge AIDS and begin to do something about it rather than “ignore it and it will go away.” Today, the film inspired me to do some research on Larry Kramer on the Internet. I encourage all readers to do this as it p[rovides many, many facts that Kramer went through to get where he is today. I am positive–no question–that THE NORMAL HEART will be awarded several Emmys. The cast–all of them–are so believeable. Thanks to HBO and to Larry Kramer and Ryan Murphy for getting this film on the air. WOW!!!! By the end of the film, I had tears rolling down my eyes. My heart ached for what gays went through in the 80s. Mr. Kramer and I are about the same age. I could not believe our lives took such totally different turns during the same era of time/history.

  2. PL Fischer says:

    Great to see that this story made it to the big screen. I used to wait on Larry and his friends in my Dad’s restaurant.

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