Ryan Murphy is best known as the co-creator of such unusual TV hits as Glee, American Horror Story, and Nip/Tuck, but he’s slowly been building up a big-screen career as well. Though 2006’s Running with Scissors wasn’t quite a box office smash, 2010’s Eat Pray Love pulled in $200 million worldwide despite mediocre reviews.

Murphy is now gearing up for his third feature, the HIV/AIDS drama The Normal Heart. Mark Ruffalo boarded the project a couple of years ago and was the only star attached for a while, but the project’s now landed four more high-profile stars in Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Matt Bomer, and Jim Parsons, and is said to be eyeing Viggo Mortensen as well.

Larry Kramer is penning the adaptation of his own “mostly autobiographical” play, which debuted Off-Broadway in 1985. A 2011 Broadway revival earned Tony Awards for stars John Benjamin Hickey and Ellen Barkin, as well as nominations for actor Joe Mantello and directors Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe. The film follows the rise of HIV and AIDS in New York’s gay community during the 1980s as experienced by writer/activist Ned Weeks (Ruffalo), who’s one of the first to demand public attention for the disease.

Roberts is attached to take over Barkin’s Tony-winning role as Emma Brookner, a wheelchair-bound polio survivor and one of the few doctors taking the so-called “gay cancer” seriously. Bomer will step into Hickey’s old character Felix Turner, a gay fashion journalist, Weeks’ boyfriend, and eventual AIDS patient. Parsons, who made his Broadway debut in the 2011 stage version, will reprise his own role as Tommy Boatwright, a Southerner and gay activist. Baldwin will play Weeks’ brother Ben, who struggles to accept Ned’s sexuality. In addition, Variety reports that Murphy wants Mortensen for the part of Green Beret-turned-gay activist Bruce Niles, but it seems Mortensen’s far from a sure thing at this point. Roberts previously starred in Murphy’s Eat Pray Love, while Baldwin appeared in Running With Scissors.

Brad Pitt‘s Plan B is producing the picture, which has yet to announce a start date.

[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]

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