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Ryan Murphy talks choreographing sex scenes in ‘The Normal Heart’

Director Ryan Murphy attends HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Premiere at The Writers Guild Theatre on May 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning AIDS drama “The Normal Heart” has made its way to film and producer and director Ryan Murphy was largely responsible for making that happen. The “Glee” and “American Horror Story” creator said in an interview with the Huffington Post published Tuesday that he woke up one day in 2007 and felt a responsibility to make the film happen. Although the entire film was a challenge for Murphy, he explained the most difficult scenes were the sex scenes between Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer.

The HBO movie adaptation of the Larry Kramer play, which exposes the challenges surrounding the AIDS epidemic in the early 80s, is set to premiere on May 25. The film is a story about strength, the terror surrounding the mysterious disease, and the passion of those dedicated to bringing awareness to the epidemic that was spreading fast in the gay community. It is also a love story between AIDS activist Ned Weeks (Ruffalo) and his lover Felix Turner (Bomer), a journalist who contracts AIDS.

Because of the deep passion shared between the two characters, the love scenes had to be intense and therefore they were important in delivering the love story. Murphy reveals in the interview that the scenes were difficult because the two actors involved were “terrified.” The scenes also came alive with the help of an on-set “sex choreographer.”

“We hired a guy who specializes in…sex choreography,” Murphy told the Huffington Post. “So he would come and he would work with the actors and it was like, ‘Okay, then you move your leg here, and your ass**** goes up here, and then your neck goes over here.’ So we worked on it, so the actors felt like, ‘Okay, I’m in A Chorus Line. I can do it.’”

Both Ruffalo and Bomer were particularly nervous about the scenes because neither of them had on-screen experience when it comes to gay sex. Although Bomer is gay, he has never been in a gay sex scene so it was awkward, but the actors were more nervous because of the importance of delivering believable scenes.

“Mark, I believe, had never kissed a guy, ever, on camera,” Murphy said. “And he had certainly never had that level of sexuality. And I don’t think Matt had either. So I had a gay actor [Bomer] and a straight actor. And they were both terrified. But I just threw them into it.”

Although the scenes did prove to be difficult, both actors were professional and were both dedicated to bringing out the most in their characters. Murphy said they knew the importance of their intimacy and how much the love between the two characters drove the story.

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