Jump to: Spoilers (7)
Jim Parsons, who plays Tommy, also played the part in the 2011 Broadway revival, making him the only actor to reprise his role. His co-stars included Ellen Barkin, Lee Pace, John Benjamin Hickey, and Luke Macfarlane.
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On June 26, 2013, the day of filming the fundraiser dance, Larry Kramer was in attendance. That became the day that D.O.M.A. was overturned, marking a momentous advancement for gay rights. As a celebration broke out, Larry Kramer grabbed the microphone and said "We did it!"
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When Tommy Boatwright (Jim Parsons) pulls a card from his Rolodex, and puts it along with a bunch of cards tied with a rubber band, is based on what David Geffen used to do in those days. On November 18, 1992, AIDS Project Los Angeles (A.P.L.A.) gave Geffen the Commitment To Life Award at the Universal Amphitheater. During his acceptance speech, he said: "When the first person I knew died, I couldn't bring myself to throw his Rolodex card away, so I saved it. I now have a rubber band around three hundred forty-one cards." David Geffen was referring to Michael Bennett.
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For the 2011 Broadway premiere of the play "The Normal Heart", Playwright Larry Kramer wrote a flyer called "Please Know" (which he often handed out to exiting audience members himself). "Please Know" explained that most of the events and characters in the play were based on real events, and people. Some of the real people he said his characters were based on included: Paul Popham, one of the founders of the Gay Men's Health Crisis (the basis for Bruce); Dr. Linda Laubenstein, an early AIDS researcher (the basis for Emma); and Rodger McFarlane, a gay rights activist and the creator of the crisis hotline that was the precursor to the GMHC (the basis for Tommy). Like McFarlane, Tommy is a Southerner (McFarlane was born and raised in South Alabama). Like Laubenstein, Emma uses a wheelchair (Laubenstein was left paraplegic after a childhood bout with polio). Although this was not mentioned in Kramer's handout, the character of Felix also had a real-life inspiration: John Duka, who, during the early 1980s, wrote a column in the New York Times's Thursday Style section titled "Notes on Fashion". Duka had been openly gay while working at New York Magazine, but upon his move to the Times in 1980, he felt he needed to re-closet himself because of the Times' then-more-conservative attitudes. Also like Felix, he also had a brief marriage to a woman. The character of Ned is based on Kramer himself.
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Barbra Streisand held the film rights to Larry Kramer's original play for a decade, but was unable to get financing for a feature film, and HBO, at the time, was unwilling to meet Kramer's asking price for the screenplay.
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Filming had to be delayed on July 15, 2013, so Jonathan Groff could be with his best friend Lea Michele after the death of her boyfriend, Glee (2009) co-star Cory Monteith. Glee (2009) was created and produced by Ryan Murphy.
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The title of the play and the movie comes from a line in W.H. Auden's poem "September 1, 1939".
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Director of Photography Daniel Moder (credited as Danny Moder) is married to Julia Roberts (Dr. Emma Brookner).
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When Ned reels off the names of doctors who treated him, he refers to Doctors LaVerne, Patty, and Maxene. These are the names of The Andrews Sisters.
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Stephen Spinella and BD Wong also appeared in And the Band Played On (1993), another HBO film with a story about the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s.
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The original off-Broadway production of "The Normal Heart" opened in April 1985 at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, a.k.a. LuEsther Hall. The cast included: Phillip Richard Allen (Ben Weeks); David Allen Brooks (Bruce Niles); Brad Davis (Ned Weeks); William DeAcutis (Tommy Boatwright); Robert Dorfman (Mickey Marcus); Lawrence Lott (David/Hiram Keebler/Examining Doctor/Orderly); D.W. Moffett (Felix Turner); Michael Santoro (Craig Donner/Grady/Orderly); and Concetta Tomei (Dr. Emma Brookner). The Director was Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
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Features American Horror Story (2011) alumni Denis O'Hare, Matt Bomer, and Finn Wittrock. Ryan Murphy is one of the Creators of the show.
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During the film, one character refers to the London plague traced to a pump. The Great (Bubonic) Plague of London occurred in 1665-66 was caused by rats. The "pump"referenced caused the Cholera outbreak in 1854 in London.
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Production had to take a break to allow Matt Bomer time to lose forty pounds for his physique, to display that his character is dying of AIDS. Bomer admitted that the weight-loss took a toll on his health, and that by the time he filmed his final scene in a hospital bed, he was genuinely too weak to get out of the bed between takes without assistance.
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Matt Bomer was so physically weak from his weight loss, that he would just sit or lie in one spot between takes, because it took too much energy to move, and at times he even needed help getting up.
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Matt Bomer said that as he lost weight and got weaker, his desire to live and appreciation for life grew, so that's exactly how he played the role of Felix.
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Matt Bomer was determined not to watch Philadelphia (1993) while working, because he didn't want to be even slightly influenced by Tom Hanks' performance. Oddly enough, while he was taking the month off to lose the weight the role required, he was at his New York City apartment watching television and Philadelphia (1993) showed up. He was so tired, that he decided to watch the movie.
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The last song played in the final scene where Ned is seen alone at the dance, is called "The Only Living Boy in New York" (by Simon and Garfunkel).
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Finn Wittrock took advantage of his big weight loss during the shooting of Unbroken (2014), to film his scenes as Albert when he was dying of AIDS, specially the plane ones.
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THIS IS A MAJOR SPOILER ! ! ! At the end of the film, after the Yale Gay Week dance scene, two Rolodex cards are shown being removed by Tommy and added to his pile of the deceased who died of HIV/AIDS. Among the cards removed are Bella's (the heavyset, bearded man) and Bruce's (the blond man who was dating Albert), two of the major characters working for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, implying that both men have passed away since 1984.
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