Gay rights have come a long way since the play “The Normal Heart” was first staged in 1985, and Matt Bomer attributes that to the contributions of men like its author, Larry Kramer. Bomer, an openly gay actor, appears in Ryan Murphy‘s HBO adaptation of “The Normal Heart.” As he told us during a recent webcam chat (watch below), he’s “profoundly grateful to live in the times that we live in now, and grateful to people like Larry Kramer and Ryan Murphy who gave me the opportunity to be myself in this industry today.”
But there is still room for improvement in the way Hollywood treats its out stars. “We still have a long way to go. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I get all the opportunities that I would have if I were straight, per se, but I certainly get a lot more than I would have had 10 years ago, so I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
Bomer’s relationship with “The Normal Heart” began long before being cast as AIDS-afflicted journalist Felix Turner in the telefilm: “I read this play at 14, so I’ve never known sexuality without the inherent risk of death.” So it almost goes without saying that finally meeting Kramer was a momentous experience for the actor.
“It was like meeting Abraham Lincoln for me … People always talk about the five people they want to have to dinner from history. I think he would be one,” he said, though he added about the famously outspoken activist, “I’d have to choose someone very patient and maybe a little bit more low key to sit next to him at the table, but I love Larry … It was one of those pinch-yourself moments.”
Nearly 30 years after the play’s original production, Bomer hopes the film adaptation will resonate across generations. He was moved to hear the stories of those who lived through the terrible early years of the epidemic, for whom “it’s a very, very important film therapeutically, and also just in terms of having that on record.” And he hopes younger viewers who don’t have that first-hand experience “will understand and appreciate these people and as a society that we will remember them.”
Watch our complete interview below, then predict whether Bomer’s portrayal will win him his first Emmy.