Felix is a New York Times reporter who catches the eye—and then the heart—of Ned Weeks, the lead character played by Mark Ruffalo, a mad-as-hell megaphone determined to get his gay friends and the government to acknowledge the urgency of the plague.The Normal Heart boasts a stacked cast, which makes it no small praise to say that Bomer’s is the performance that lingers with you. Emma Brookner, a doctor literally flipping over tables in frustration as she attempts to get the word out about the disease that is killing her patients.I did a one-off episode of The New Normal for Ryan Murphy, and that was the first time I played a gay role.But this is really my first real role in a film where I got to play gay that was not elective.As much as The Normal Heart is a searing call to arms—if you’ve ever read the play, you can practically see the words leaping off the page in the shape of an angry, shaking fist—it’s a love story. It’s human, rooted in the real, once-in-a-lifetime love that Felix and Ned share.It falls on Bomer’s performance to convince you of that love and the tragedy of its eventual end, and the actor—who is himself married to publicist Simon Halls, with whom he has three sons—rises to the occasion in positively gutting fashion. So many New York men who remember that time were there. What was it like to watch The Normal Heart on screen in a room full of those people?You don’t know it yet, but you’re about to be blown away by Matt Bomer.We’re used to staring in awe at the 36-year-old actor with the piercing blue eyes, so suave and debonair in White Collar and so astonishingly chiseled as a male stripper in Magic Mike.
This story almost takes on a different, or new, importance now, as it’s played for a new, younger generation, whose eyes might not have been opened yet to the realities of the AIDS epidemic and how tragic is actually was. Was that something you ever thought about while filming this? “I said a prayer to those people every day before I came to work. What it was like the first time you saw yourself with the sores, and the makeup to make you look sick. Well, I lived on my own for months at the time when I had done a lot of the weight loss, just to get into Felix’s mindset.
Friday Night Lights alum Taylor Kitsch stars as a conflicted activist, and The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons is Tommy, a more fatalist crusader whose soft anger somehow manages to stave off his dejected resignation.“They’re letting us die because they don’t like us,” Tommy says in one of the film’s relentless—though necessary—monologues.