The premiere of HBO’s movie version of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart on 25 May will come nearly 3o years after the play was first staged at the Public Theatre in New York City.
Kramer, now 78 and in frail health, says of the landmark 1985 play: ‘Writers are given one great story to tell: their story. I’m telling my story as a political document.’
The Normal Heart is set in New York City in the early 1980s and tells the story of the American government’s indifference to the growing AIDS plague and the denial of the gay community itself.
Kramer says in a new promo video released by HBO: ‘How do you get attention when the mayor (Ed Koch) doesn’t care? When the president (Ronald Reagan) doesn’t care? When the commissioner of health doesn’t care? When the gay world doesn’t care? The gay world did not want to know about this illness.’
Julia Roberts, who plays Dr. Emma Brookner in the film, observes in the promo video: ‘ It’s kind of incredible to turn your back on a while group of people who were suffering – and were terrified.’
Mark Ruffalo plays a fictionalized version of Kramer who realized that in this desperate situation, ‘anger is really the only way that you get anything done.’
The Normal Heart has been produced over 600 times in the US., Europe, Israel, and South Africa including runs of Broadway and London’s West End.
But the road to making it into a film was a long and frustrating one for Kramer who publicly feuded with Barbra Streisand who held the movie rights for a decade.
But now that the movie has finally been made, Kramer seems happy with the finished result – and the casting.
‘Mark Ruffalo playing me is embarassing,’ he says with a chuckle. ‘This hunk playing me. I just can’t believe it.’