The long-awaited film version of Larry Kramer’s acclaimed AIDS play The Normal Heart will premiere on HBO on 25 May with Glee creator Ryan Murphy listed as the director.
Nowhere on the film’s credits will the name Barbra Streisand who held an option on Kramer’s play for a decade and says she worked long after that to try and get the movie made.
But in recent years, Kramer has accused Streisand of lacking ‘the burning passion’ to make the film.
‘It was hard for me to be attacked like that by Larry. I worked for so many years on it without ever taking a penny,’ Streisand tells The Hollywood Reporter in a cover story about the saga to get the film made.
‘I will always believe in Larry’s play and its powerful theme of everyone’s right to love,’ she adds.
Streisand, coming off her directing debut of the musical Yentl, had become an enthusiastic fan of Kramer’s play which debuted in 1985.
Eager to direct a film version which would include her in a supporting role as a doctor – a role Julia Roberts plays in the HBO film – Streisand optioned the rights in 1986.
‘It’s a fabulous, fabulous play and I thought it could make a great movie,’ she says. ‘It was so ahead of its time in terms of understanding gay marriage. I wanted it out in 1987. Everyone who goes into that play comes out understanding why you want to get married to someone.’
But there were battles over the script with Kramer and by the time Streisand felt the script was finally ready, she could not get the go-ahead from her studio, Columbia, and went on to make The Mirror Has Two Faces instead.
It would be eight years before Streisand would make another movie – a supporting role in 2004’s Meet the Fockers.
Early on, Streisand had tried over the years to get such names as Dustin Hoffman, Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes cast then later Mark Ruffalo, Roberts and Bradley Cooper.
Ruffalo and Roberts do star in the HBO film along with Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, and Taylor Kitsch.