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Stars Discuss Film Adaptation of 'The Normal Heart'

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The 2011 Tony Award-winning play "The Normal Heart" is now a film, and two stars from the movie, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons, sat down with NY1 to talk about bringing the work to the small screen. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.

Larry Kramer's haunting and autobiographical tale "The Normal Heart," about the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the creation of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, has gone from stage to screen courtesy of director/producer Ryan Murphy.

The film features an all-star ensemble of actors, including Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons.

Parsons reprises his performance of young gay activist Tommy Boatwright for the film, having previously played the role on Broadway in the 2011 Tony Award-winning revival.

"The chance to do the play first offered me the opportunity to do a level of homework, if you will, that I would have never gotten otherwise," Parsons said.

Best known for his work on the TV series "White Collar," actor Matt Bomer plays Mark Ruffalo's lover Felix in "The Normal Heart." Bomer admitted that he campaigned to be a part of Larry Kramer's seminal property.

"I first read the play when I was 14," Bomer said. "We had a very progressive theater teacher who would buy all the plays that were going on on- and off-Broadway and have them shipped down to us in suburban Texas, and I'll never forget, I remember the iconic image of Felix in the puddle of milk and Ned standing above him, and I thought, 'What is this about?'"

To go from healthy to sick, Bomer lost 40 pounds for the role.

"My will to live only increased, and I think that was helpful to me in getting to play the scenes with Mark in the later half of the film," he said.

While "The Normal Heart" captures a rather dark milestone for the LGBT community, Parsons spoke about a watershed moment for the gay community that he experienced with Larry Kramer and his castmates on set last summer while filming.

"DOMA was overturned, and we were celebrating the first big GMHC fundraiser, and it was supposed to be filled with wonderful energy, and it was, and they gave Larry the mic to speak, and he said, 'We did it,'" Parsons said. "I thought, 'I can't believe I'm standing here like this.'"

It's clear that the message and the story of "The Normal Heart" hits home for both Parsons and Bomer, not just as actors but as people...

"It's just about human beings and how they treat each other, and how they help each other or don't help each other," Parsons said. "To move forward with that info in your head can help you deal with that in the future, whatever the case may be."

"These people who formed ACT UP and Gay Men's Health Crisis really catalyzed the gay rights movement, and it did give us a voice of saying, 'We're here, and we need help, and we need to be treated like everyone else,'" Bomer said.

"The Normal Heart" is set to debut on HBO on May 25. For more information on the film, go to thenormalheart.hbo.com.

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