After dropping upwards of 40 pounds for his role in “The Normal Heart,” it’s all about love and family right now for Matt Bomer.
Bomer, 36, was “blown away and just so grateful” when his name was announced today as an Emmy Award nominee for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Felix in the HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis among the gay population in New York City.
After the “White Collar” star dropped to an astonishing 130 pounds for the role to show how the disease can ravage the human body — which meant shedding the chiseled features he usually shows off in his hit TV show or movies like “Magic Mike.”
Even though it was a long, difficult road to this apex point — Bomer said all the hard work culminated in one call this morning from his husband Simon Halls.
“I’m in New York and was getting ready to go to work on ‘White Collar.’ I got a phone call from my husband and he shared the news with me,” Bomer said. “It was so great to get to share that moment with him, because I had to separate myself from my family for a while to play this role. I’m sure when I was 130 pounds, I wasn’t always in the best mood, so it was nice to get to share a happy moment with him.”
At first, Bomer admitted he couldn’t even grasp the gravity of an Emmy nomination.
“I couldn’t even speak for the first minute,” he said. “I was overcome with gratitude, just the moment was so profound for me. I’ve been working in TV for 13 years and to have this moment, I was completely overwhelmed and had to collect myself for a bit. Simon knew firsthand how hard I worked on this role, how much we put into it, myself as an actor, and us collectively as a family. it was just really great to get to share that moment with him.”
You can read the entire article here.
How did you build your onscreen chemistry with Ruffalo?
We were fortunate enough to film things mostly sequentially for the first half of the film, so we stayed in character together on set. Without sounding overly Methody about the whole thing, we just related to each other as Ned and Felix. If it was a scene where we had to be really tender with each other, we would sit together in closer proximity than actors might normally do and tell each other personal stories, so that when the cameras were rolling, we didn’t suddenly have to affect something. It was coming from a place that we had already created.
This is such an emotional role for you. Was it difficult to leave Felix behind at the end of each day?
I don’t want to let go of Felix. Usually by the time I’m done [with a role], I’m like, “OK, let’s close that chapter and move on,” but I don’t want to let go of him because I think he changed me for the better. I grew from getting to play him. What I love about their relationship is it is so symbiotic, because Felix is having trouble with his authenticity but is also incredibly available to intimacy and a real relationship. And Ned is this firebrand who’s completely authentic, and comfortable with who he is, but is terrified of intimacy. Together they help heal each other.
There was a moment when Mark and I — after we finished the wedding scene, which I think was the last thing we filmed together — just held on to each other and sobbed for a good 15 minutes. Not because of anything we had done but because we were a part of this story that was so much bigger than us, and because we knew that this was how a generation of people had to say goodbye to each other. Taking in the gravity of that moment was really overwhelming. It was just one of those things you don’t ever forget.
You can read the rest of the interview here.
Did they track you down for this role, or did you push for it?
I think it was probably both. Probably more so on my side. I just felt that it was a story I had been familiar with for so long that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to be a part of it.
You were very young during the ’80s, and you were a long ways away from the center of this story in New York. Were you aware of the story in the ’80s? Did you see it on TV? And now as you see it from your perspective, now when you play this character, what does it feel like?
This play was actually the first exposure I really had, a real understanding of the illness. I read it in the closet of my drama room when I was 14 years old, and the irony of that is not lost on me.
So, you know, I grew up in the Bible Belt, and there was no talk about [HIV]. I remember reading this play and seeing this neon blinking SOS and being terrified but also glad that I had some kind of understanding of what was going on, and I did lose friends. I started working at the theater in Art Town in the mid-’90s, which was in some ways an especially difficult time in the epidemic, and that was my first direct contact in losing friends and things like that. So I guess this story, for me, was always the genesis of my understanding of what the disease was.
How many conversations did you have with Larry about playing Felix?
First of all, I love Larry. We spent a good deal of time together talking about the world. He has done revivals of this play for so long, I didn’t want to keep rehashing tough territory for him. So much of this story really is in the text. The most important thing that he told me was it is more about who this individual was before he got sick and after. And the good and the bad with both of those sides of the coin.
You can read the entire interview here.
Let’s start with the premiere. Larry Kramer was there. So many New York men who remember that time were there. I heard the sobbing was audible. What was it like to watch The Normal Heart on screen in a room full of those people?
Most importantly, getting to watch the standing ovation for Larry Kramer and to see him taking in a moment that was 30 years in the making was something I’ll never forget. For me, that was just one of those really rarified experiences that you’re very lucky if you get maybe once in a career as an artist.
But also, this is such a distinct part of New York history, this play, and I’m so thankful to HBO that they gave it such a grand opening there in New York. And paid homage and respect to this generation of people. Afterwards at the after-party, so many people who approached me wanted to tell me stories of people they lost and their experiences during that dark time in our history. They just wanted to cry and share their feelings with me. It was unforgettable. I became an actor because I read playwrights like Larry and Tony Kushner, and wanted to be a part of telling stories that hopefully have significance or can educate people or challenge their points of view or change their worldview the way these playwrights did for me. So to actually be a part of something like that as a grown-up, it’s like, man, you just check your ego at the door and try to serve the story.
There’s a headline that keeps circulating from a quote that you gave, where you said, “Larry Kramer probably saved my life.”
Yeah. I’m sure he did. At the time I first read it, my first sexual relationships were with women. But even then he put the fear of God in me! (Laughs) He educated me in a lot of ways. It was a very useful fear. But it was also the education to be smart and be safe, and that carried over into my later relationships and also when I started to have relationships with men.
But I think he saved me on a more profound than practical level. Even at 14 when I still didn’t know who I was when I read this piece—I was still figuring out who my most authentic self was—to have this voice that was such a firebrand and so honest and so authentic, to know that that reality was out there, even though it was nowhere near my immediate experience in suburban Texas, to know that somewhere it was out there gave me a sense of hope. And I think I knew on some level that a part of me that hadn’t been acknowledged yet was going to be OK.
You can read the entire interview here.
Before Matt Bomer even knew he was gay, he found Larry Kramer — or maybe Larry Kramer found him. In the closet of his high school theater in Spring, Texas, Bomer’s teacher had built a small library of scripts acquired on trips to New York.
Bomer pulled Kramer’s The Normal Heart off the shelf. He was 14. He loved acting, but he was the son of a former Dallas Cowboys player, so he also played football. He had girlfriends. His family went to church multiple times a week. It was the early 1990s, and for a Texas teenager, the AIDS epidemic was happening somewhere else, to someone else.
“I was relatively sheltered,” he says. The Normal Heart was his wake-up call. “It wasn’t until I read Larry’s work that I had any kind of understanding as to what was really going on in the world around me. It just lit this fire in my belly.” He was outraged at the injustice portrayed in the play, at the story of gay men whose unexplained, horrifying deaths seemed inconsequential — at best — to the many doctors and lawmakers and media who looked the other way.
So he started performing monologues at school from The Normal Heart and its companion piece, The Destiny of Me, and from another closet library find, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. “I felt the need to let people know that this was going on,” he says — even if his audience was largely other theater kids in Houston’s suburbs. “I probably stuck out like a sore thumb.”
But as much as Kramer’s outrage spoke to a young Bomer, the underlying gay love story in The Normal Heart — between the activist Ned Weeks (based on Kramer) and Felix Turner, a New York Times style reporter — also worked its way deep into his teenage consciousness. “I knew on some level, even if it was way on the periphery, that it was part of my story, too.”
You can read the rest of the interview here.
How Larry Kramer’s play transformed his world view: “I was relatively sheltered. It wasn’t until I read Larry’s work that I had any kind of understanding as to what was really going on in the world around me. It just lit this fire in my belly.”
How the role of Felix Turner changed him: “You’re really lucky as an artist if you get a role that changes you as a person. It taught me how to access myself on a completely different level as an artist. And it blew my mind in terms of the level of unconditional love between Ned and Felix — my goodness, if these people could incorporate this into their lives, under their circumstances, why can’t I?”
On Kramer’s lasting effect: “Larry is somebody we wish we had as our best friend growing up — as uncomfortable as he may have made us sometimes. Activism isn’t beautiful and easy, or a bunch of people getting together and picketing; it’s a lot more complicated and difficult than that. And true love — the most unconditional love — can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their sexuality.”
On coming out to his parents: “I’m not going to lie and say it was a bed of roses. But with the gift of time and grace, my parents chose love. And I think it’s important for people to know that. We always hear, ‘Oh, it gets better, it gets better,’ and [then] so many people go, ‘No it doesn’t.’ I feel lucky to say that, yes, sometimes it does.”
On being out (or lack thereof) in the media: “It wasn’t anything I really endeavored to hide but a lot of stuff I would do would be these fashion spreads where there’s one paragraph about you at the end.”
You can read the rest of the article here.
With the end of his hit show, White Collar, in sight, the 36-year-old actor was looking to take risks, challenge himself, and change how he’s seen. He succeeded on all counts playing an AIDS-afflicted writer in HBO’s adaptation of The Normal Heart. The grueling role took a huge emotional and physical toll, but Bomer wouldn’t have it any other way [read more].
Matt Bomer is the cover star of Out’s June/July issue (available on newsstands May 15), and he spoke with writer Shana Naomi Krochmal about the experience of acting in the long-awaited adaptation of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart directed by Ryan Murphy for HBO. In the film, Matt Bomer plays Felix Turner, who falls victim to the disease as Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) and Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts) raise hell from opposite ends to figure out what’s happening.
You can read a sneak peek of the interview here.
Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons and Taylor Kitsch share why they wanted to be part of Ryan Murphy’s drama that took 30 years to make.
“One of my big hopes is that people whoi did not experience it directly will A have an understanding of what people went through at that time, but even more importantly, that fact that gay mens health crisis and ACT Up really catalyzed the gay rights movement,” says Bomer. “We really stand on the shoulders of these people for the rights we have today.”
Even as Larry Kramer, the lifelong gay activist, worked with producer and director Ryan Murphy on the HBO adaptation of Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart, which premieres May 25, Kramer kept asking the question: Why did it take so long? Why, he lamented, did it take so long to make the play into a film?
For Kramer, now 78, The Normal Heart — set in the early, terrifying days of AIDS when gay men in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles were dying of mysterious and rare diseases like Kaposi’s sarcoma — was always more than just a play. Its plot told of how Ned Weeks, Kramer’s alter ego, rallied then alienated his fellow gay activists who banded together in the battle against AIDS. It also served as a furious denunciation of the institutions — from The New York Times to the New York mayor’s office to the federal government — that Kramer blamed for initially ignoring the escalating epidemic; it was an urgent call for gay men to fight back to save their lives; and, nearly 30 years before the Supreme Court opened the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, it envisioned a world in which two gay men could wed.
You can read the rest of the article here, along with a sneak peek from the upcoming issue of The Hollywood Reporter, where Matt and his co-stars from “The Normal Heart” are featured on the cover.