It has been confirmed that Julia Roberts will star in a new HBO adaptation of the award-winning stage show The Normal Heart.
She will play Dr Emma Brookner, a paraplegic physician who was on the frontline in treating HIV-infected patients in 1980’s New York, when the Aids epidemic was rearing its head.
It promises yet another gritty role for the Oscar-winning actress, whose career has taken a radical change of direction since those heady days of Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman and Hook. This will also mean a second collaboration with director Ryan Murphy, with whom she worked in Eat, Pray, Love.
Ms Roberts is supported by a stellar cast, including Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish writer and activist who was the founder of a prominent HIV group. It is through the eyes of Weeks that the story is told. Matt Bomer, of White Collar fame, will portray Felix Turner, the journalist who eventually becomes Weeks’ lover.
This version has been adapted for the screen by Larry Kramer, who wrote the original play and who was also one of the foremost advocates of Aids prevention and care. The film doubles as an examination of how the disease affected some of its earliest victims, as well as America’s sexual politics at the time.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this landmark film to HBO,” said the network’s president of programming Michael Lombardo. “Ryan has assembled an extraordinary cast to bring Larry Kramer’s landmark theatrical achievement to the screen for the first time.”
The Normal Heart will premiere on HBO in 2014, with shooting to start in New York later on this year.