Confirming earlier speculation, Oscar winner Julia Roberts has signed on to play Dr. Emma Brookner opposite Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks in Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s forthcoming movie adaptation of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They will be joined by 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin as Ned’s brother Ben Weeks, White Collar star Matt Bomer as Ned’s lover Felix Turner (the role that won a Tony for John Benjamin Hickey in the 2011 Broadway revival) and The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, who will reprise his Broadway role as AIDS activist Tommy Boatwright.
As previously announced, The Normal Heart will be produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company, with Murphy directing from a script by Kramer. Pitt previously served as a producer on Murphy's film adaptations of Running With Scissors and Eat, Pray, Love, which starred Roberts. No shooting schedule or further casting has been announced.
The Normal Heart chronicles the terrifying early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York and the silence of official America in dealing with the issue. The play debuted at the Public Theater on April 21, 1985, starring the late Brad Davis as Ned. The Normal Heart was revived at the Public in April 2004, with Raul Esparza as Ned. The show's Broadway premiere, starring Joe Mantello, John Benjamin Hickey and Ellen Barkin, opened on April 27, 2011, and won three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play.