“To win a war, you have to start one.”
It’s an apt tagline for The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s highly autobiographical, unsparingly confrontational agitprop play from 1985 about the beginnings of the HIV-AIDS crisis and the squabbles within activist groups like Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP about the merits of diplomacy vs. direct action in combating bureaucratic indifference. Ryan Murphy has adapted the play for HBO, and over the weekend, the network released a teaser that suggests Murphy has translated the play’s trademark self-righteous bluster—Mark Ruffalo’s Ned Weeks declares, “I have to do something; nobody else will!”—successfully from stage to screen.
In addition to Ruffalo in the lead role, the HBO film will star Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Tayler Kitsch, Jim Parson, Joe Mantello, and Jonathan Groff, the last having just snagged a renewal for Looking, HBO’s controversial portrait of a few gay men in San Francisco. The air date for The Normal Heart is set for Sunday, May 25, at 9 p.m.