Deadline reports that Jim Parsons and Taylor Kitsch have signed on to the Ryan Murphy-helmed HBO film THE NORMAL HEART. The actors join previously announced cast members Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer in the cable network's original movie adaptation of the Tony-winning Larry Kramer play.
The film takes place during the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. Parsons will play gay activist Tommy Boatwright, the role which he portrayed in the 2011 Broadway revival. Kitsch plays Bruce Niles, described as "a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist." Production is scheduled to begin later this year in New York for a 2014 premiere.
The Normal Heart, whose recent revival closed on Broadway on July 10, 2011, won three 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play (Ellen Barkin) and Best Featured Actor in a Play (John Benjamin Hickey). The play was also honored as the Best Revival of a Play by the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards and received Drama Desk Awards for Best Ensemble and Best Direction of a Play, along with a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
The Normal Heart was first produced by Joseph Papp and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg at The Public Theater in 1985, where it ran for 294 performances. Joel Grey played in the role of "Ned Weeks" (replacing Brad Davis) in the original production. The play received an Off-Broadway revival in 2004.
A film adaption of The Normal Heart has been in the works for years with numerous stars and directors attached to it, including Barbra Streisand who held the rights for a number of years.
Two-time Emmy winner and Golden Globe Award winner Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") returned to Broadway in the revival of 'Harvey' after his extremely successful debut in Larry Kramer's 2011 Tony Award winning play The Normal Heart and received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.
Kitsch is best known for his role as Tim Riggins in the NBC television series Friday Night Lights and for his role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He also starred in the films John Carter, Battleship, and Savages.