OUT100: Jonathan Groff
The Normal Heart is also coming out in 2014 on HBO.
I’m a huge fan of HBO, and obviously we’re really lucky to be there. The Normal Heart was an amazing experience on so many levels. I’d worked with [director] Ryan [Murphy] before, so that was exciting, to get back together with him. I’m such a fan of that piece and that play. It’s such a gift to get to be in that world for a while.
When did you first see or read the play?
The first time I saw it was off-Broadway at the Public Theater starring Raul Esparza. I hysterically cried. I remember the scene with the milk, where they come home with the groceries. I read it a couple years later and I cried again. It’s such a visceral piece of material, whether you’re seeing it or reading it. It’s very intense. When I was on Glee, Ryan [Murphy] said, “You should read the script, because I want to find a place for you in it.” So I read it again, and I was devastated. I hope that the movie does it justice.
When Ryan said he wanted to find a place for you, did you immediately know which part you wanted to play?
From when he said that, it was about three years until the movie actually came together. The character I ended up playing in the movie is the first guy that died of AIDS, one of the guys in Larry Kramer’s circle of friends. He said that when this person died that it was right at the end of summer, and it happened so quickly that his body was still tan. It took him immediately. It was this huge punch in the stomach. I came in for about a week in total for the movie.
I got to do all the fun scenes at the beginning when we are on Fire Island, and then I die very quickly. It was really intense. It was so exciting to be on set with those actors, all of whom I admire so much. Joe Mantello—I was such a huge fan of his work in the play. And Mark Ruffalo is one of my favorite actors of all time. [X]