Taylor Kitsch Joining ‘The Normal Heart’ Cast

Taylor Kitsch, AKA Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, AKA my boyfriend, is said to be joining the cast of Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of the play, The Normal Heart.

The autobiographical play by Larry Kramer focuses on the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s. 

The Normal Heart debuted off-Broadway during the mid-’80s, debuted on Broadway in 2011 and won Tony Awards for Best Revival, Best Featured Actor, and Best Featured Actress.

According to Perez Hilton, Kitsch would play Bruce Niles, a closeeted investment banker turned activist who spars with the lead, Ned Weeks.

Others actors already cast for the HBO project — which could be either a film or a miniseries — are Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, and Jim Parsons.

Roberts will play Dr. Emma Brookner, a paralegic doctor who focuses on this strange illness mainly killing off gay men in New York City and Parson will reprise the role he played on Broadway of Tommy Boatwright, a gay activist.

Bomer will play Felix Turner, a New York Times reporter who becomes Ned’s lover. 

The Normal Heart is to appear in 2014.

Email me at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Movies Opening This Weekend, In Order of How Much We Love Their Trailers

Some people judge a movie based on reviews, other will go see something just because it features a favorite actor. Here, we’re judging this weekend’s offerings based solely on what we see in the trailers and ranking them accordingly.

Virginia: This Dustin Lance Black-penned family flick looks to have plenty of black humor and oddball antics, though there’s surely a heart of gold somewhere. High points for creative use of Jennifer Connelly, though, and the deployment of gorilla masks. This is the trailer to top this week.

Hysteria: Beneath the frilly costumes and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s admirable attempt to pull off a British accent, this is a movie about vibrators and that seems hilarious. Now we’re not sure that a feature-length film about the antics of a doctor whose only job is to fingerblast nervous patients into a happy haze will work, but for two minutes of trailer, it’s a great idea.

Mansome: A documentary on male grooming from Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman, this movie looks very promising based solely on the trailer. We’ve got celebrities talking about body hair, we’ve got extreme modifications and we’ve got the always-moronic musings of Adam Corolla, all of which add up to be an enlightening, weird and exceedingly metrosexual good time.

American Animal: A sick guy on a bender is betrayed by his roommate who… got a job? The premise isn’t quite clear from the trailer, however this SXSW-approved indie looks like a hell of a lot of oddball fun.

Battleship: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna and Aleksander Skarsgard are on a navy ship when some aliens come knocking… No it’s not a bad joke, it’s an action movie. And despite what the reviews are saying, the trailer manages to deliver some kind of Top Gun meets War of the Worlds excitement that would convince us to see this on.

Beyond The Black Rainbow: No doubt the spookiest trailer for a film opening this week, this look at indie sci-fi joint Beyond The Black Rainbow is weird and exciting to watch but leaves us with no clue about what to expect and even less of an idea why we should part with our time and money to see it.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting: Ladies having babies and going crazy! We’re sure there are some folks out there for whom this is a very exciting film. We are not those people.

Morning Links: Harvey Weinstein Passes on Obama Pitch, Sleigh Bells Cover Beyoncé

● President Obama tried to pitch Harvey Weinstein a movie idea. "The President sent me a book the other day and said, ‘Why don’t you make this into a movie?’" Weinstein told the London Times. "I sent him an email back saying he was the most overqualified book scout I’ve ever had," [Wrap]

● Taylor Kitsch wants to share his time-tested shoe lace tying strategy — "Instead of going around once, you do it twice" — with an iPhone app. "A $4.88 app. All the languages. Make it worldwide," he tells GQ, joking that it might be his "sweet claim to fame." [GQ]

Us Weekly reports that Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hartnett have been secretly "hanging out" since January. How dare they! [Us]

● Justin Bieber has donated Johnson — that small boa constrictor he famously "wore" to the VMAs last year — to the Rad Zoo in Owatonna, MN, surely a much happier home than Justin’s closet. [TMZ]

● This Darren Aronofsky-directed ad for Kohl’s starring Jennifer Lopez is unexpected, to say the least. [MediaBistro]

● Alexis Krauss proves an etheral and adequate Beyoncé in this Sleigh Bells cover of "Irreplaceable." [Billboard]

As ‘Friday Night Lights’ Comes to a Close, What Will Its Cast Do Next?

Tonight, the lights at East Dillon High go dark for good, as Friday Night Lights wraps its fifth and final season. (The season will air on NBC in the Spring.) For fans of the show, life after FNL might seem like an impossibly bleak prospect. We’ve already been researching some of the better suicide prevention hotlines in the city, and have reached out to drugs and alcohol for support. But what about the cast? While we’re out of a weekly excuse to get teary-eyed, they’re out of a job. And for a lot of them — probably most of them — nothing will ever come close to Friday Night Lights in terms of quality and integrity. As an actor, that’s gotta be terrifying. Because FNL values realism above all else, many regulars left mid-series, their arcs reaching their natural close. Some have used the show as a springboard to greater heights, and others, not so much (If anyone’s seen Gaius Charles around, tell him he’s got a career to manage). So as tomorrow marks the official post-Friday Night Lights era for many of us, and as its cast members awake with a brutal Saturday morning hangover, here’s what some of them are, might be, and should be doing next.

Kyle Chandler: As Coach Eric Taylor, Chandler has been the inspirational beacon to which all other characters revolve. Week after week, he’s delivered a masterclass in subtlety (Who on the show hasn’t?), occasionally stepping up with a take-your-breath-away motivational speech when his players — and we — need it most. Prior to FNL, Chandler’s most visible role came as the airhead matinee idol Bruce Baxter in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and this summer, he’ll return to the spectacle blockbuster as part of the ensemble in J.J. Abrams’ top-secret alien-on-the-loose project Super 8 (You may have caught a glimpse of him in last Sunday’s Super Bowl spot). On FNL, Chandler excelled at playing the drill sargeant, but the core of his performance was brought out in the domestic scenes with his wife, where he shed the barbed-wire exterior to reveal a marshmallow center. This militaristic football coach, was in the end, a big softie. And after years of Emmy neglect, Chandler finally landed a long overdue nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series last year. While Chandler doesn’t have any projects officially lined up after Super 8, he should carry the success of FNL well into the futute, and have his pick of authority/father figures in quailty film and television.

Connie Britton: Perhaps no Dillon resident was more beloved than Tammy Taylor, brought to painstaking life by Mrs. Britton. Like her husband, Mrs. Taylor served as the show’s moral compass, sometimes literally, when she took on the job of school guidance councilor. Before she moved to Dillon, Britton was best known as the accountant Nikki Faber on Spin City, and for brief guest stints on shows like 24 and The West Wing. Like Chandler, Britton was finally nominated for an Emmy last year, and has long been considered one half of the most believable couple on television. Also like Chandler, Britton has only one post-FNL project lined up, a buzzless movie called Conception. She’ll make up for that if the rumors are to be believed, and she is in fact developing a series for FX with none other than Fighter director David O. Russell. Now wouldn’t that be something. image

Taylor Kitsch: For five seasons, Tim Riggins was the guy your girlfriends wanted to fuck, and the guy you also wanted to fuck. Sure, he looks great, but it was his character arc — from brooding town drunk, to brooding town drunk with a golden heart and mean right hook — that made us dump our significant others for not being him. Absent for most of Season 5, Kitsch returned a few episodes ago to close out his characters unresolved arc. He was gone, of course, because his movie career is blowing up. He just wrapped the big-budget board game adaptation Battleship, for director Peter Berg, and before that, shot the title role in the sci-fi epic John Carter of Mars, for WALL-E director Andrew Stanton. Both are two of the biggest movies of 2012, and Kitsch is well on his way to becoming a massive movie star, so yeah, we told you so.

Aimee Teegarden: For those of you who don’t watch the show, why are you reading this? But also, you probably know Teegarden as the girl who asked the question heard ’round the web. Based on that video alone, more people (48 million and counting) have seen Teegarden on YouTube than ever will on the show, which is a shame, because they’re missing the work of a talented young actress. Yes, Julie Taylor can sometimes be a brat of the highest order, but she’s a teenage girl with dude problems and probably a body issue or seven. According to IMDb, Teegarden has four films in post-production, including Scream 4 and Disney’s Prom, and plays the love interest opposite Jackson Rathbone in McG’s upcoming web series, Aim High, about a high school student who’s got a side gig as a spy. She’s only 21, which means she can stay in fake high school for a few more semesters, but transitioning into adult roles will be key for the baby-faced actress, as will be avoiding schlock like em> Final Destination 14.

Michael B. Jordan: To avoid confusion with the sound engineer for Trees Lounge, this young actor added the initial B. to his name. Smart move, kid. A Season Four addition and the centerpiece to FNL‘s mid-series makeover, Jordan has emerged as the undisputed heart of the show’s younger cast. As troubled quarterback Vince Howard, not only has he led the East Dillon Lions all the way to State, but he’s turned a dead-end adolescence into something hopeful. That journey has given Jordan ample scenery to chew; sometimes he’ll gnaw at gently, and other times he’ll straight-up devour it. Both are great. And if you watch FNL, it means you’re a fan of good TV, and if you’re a fan of good TV, it means you probably saw a younger Jordan as young Wallace, on the first season of The Wire. So yes, he can act. His first post-FNL project is a big one: He’ll appear as a Tuskegee Airman in the George Lucas-scripted WWII saga Red Tails. Movie stardom is not out of the question.

Matt Lauria: FNL was this boyish-yet-rugged actor’s breakout, but he’s already moved beyond Dillon. His new show, The Chicago Code, had its debut on Monday. Lauria plays a young cop, and while ratings weren’t great for the procedural, given its pedigree (It comes from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan) and how much time FOX has spent advertising — you may remember the constant ads running during the Super Bowl — the show will likely be given a chance to find an audience. If not, Lauria can find work on another drama, although its tough imagining anything equaling the poignancy of a character like his Luke Cafferty.

It’s Official: Taylor Kitsch Is the Next Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington has been around for a little less than a year, and we’re already bestowing on him the ultimate honor of anointing someone as the next him. That’s party because he doesn’t make movies that gross less than $100 million, and partly because we’ve gone insane. Anyway, someone of his stature needs a successor, and with today’s casting news regarding Peter Berg’s upcoming blockbuster Battleship, we’ve come to the consensus that his name is Taylor Kitsch.

We called it last December, when we named the former Friday Night Lights star the “New Action Hero” as part of our 2010 New Regime. That was based on his first big movie role in Wolverine, and his second even bigger role as the title character in the upcoming sci-fi epic John Carter of Mars. As mentioned earlier, today we learned that Kitsch will be starring in another huge action property and potential franchise, where he’ll play Naval commander Alex Hopper, described as “”wildly spirited” and “a great seaman but a lousy politician.” Like Worthington, he’s got the macho charisma to stick action roles (at a time when Hollywood is in desperate need of a new breed of action heroes). It’s all grand and swell for Kistch–he won’t have to worry about paying rent–except that, unlike Worthington, Kitsch has actually proved can act on four seasons of FNL. So there’s a good chance those chops will get disfigured by all flash and bombast of a big-budget film, you know, like Sam Worthington.

Taylor Kitsch: The New Action Hero

Any day now, Taylor Kitsch will cut his hair. To transform into the title character in John Carter of MarsWall-E director Andrew Stanton’s first live-action feature, based on Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burrough’s sci-fi novels about a Civil War veteran’s adventures on the Red Planet—the 28-year-old actor, who plays the dreamy, brooding, beer-drinking, football-playing Tim Riggins on NBC’s cult drama Friday Night Lights, will lop off his locks for the first time since he was 19. “Hopefully, it’s a 10-year job,” Kitsch says of the potential franchise, which co-stars Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton and Thomas Haden Church.

Even though the motorcycle-riding actor has spent four seasons playing high-level pigskin on TV, and was a serious hockey player in college (it was only after he busted his knee that he took up acting), the intense preparation leading up to John Carter exceeds anything he’s done before. It includes sword training, gun fighting, horseback riding and seven-hour cram sessions on the Civil War. And while learning to fence with four-armed giant green Martians might not be every actor’s idea of the method, Kitsch uses physicality as entrée into psyche. “It makes it a bit easier,” he says. “I have to look like this, walk like this. I have to lose this much weight. I’ll know this inside out. Then I work on the mental state.”

Before Carter’s eight-month shoot in London and Utah begins, Kitsch will wrap this season of Friday Night Lights and hopefully see The Bang Bang Club screen at Sundance. In Bang Bang, Kitsch plays another Carter, this one a Kevin, a real-life photographer who, along with three friends, captured raw and horrifying images of the end of apartheid in South Africa—and killed himself weeks after winning the Pulitzer Prize. The shoot was grueling. “No joke, I think I was on bandaged knees and broken down in every scene past the halfway mark,” Kitsch says. “I needed a lot of counseling to come out of it.” After that he’s on to Carter, which Kitsch admits is stressing him out a bit. “It’s not a bad stress where I wake up and say, Oh my God, I’m doing this and that,” he says. “But the stakes are incredibly high. It’s a big movie. I just have to keep my head down and go to work.”

Over the course of Friday Night Lights Riggins has gone from being very quiet to being, if still quiet, very funny. Can you talk about that a little? That’s from Pete [Berg] and four years of playing Riggs. I watched it last night and I started laughing too. I cannot stop smiling when I see some of the scenes between Riggs and Billy. Sometimes it’s just so whacked out you’ve got to just laugh. But at the same time, there’s an actor in both of us, and the guy who plays Billy is a damn good one, and we have a good time really diving into the dramatic stuff. I do what they call for me to do. If they want me to be funny and do the comedic stuff, I’ll do it.

It sounds like you enjoy the dramatic storylines more. I love the comedy too. It’s a lot of fun to play and I love breaking the guy next to me. There’s a scene where Saracen and I go hunting and I cannot even tell you the laughs we had on that. It was 90 percent improv and it was just ridiculous. I was just thinking, “What would it be like hunting with Riggs?” I mean, he’s 18. I sometimes forget about that. He’s a fucking 18-year-old kid and I’m 28. That’s why it’s so fun to dive into that stuff. Just those little things, like the, “tater me.” I think that’s what works best, when we don’t play for the humor, but we find it.

So you aren’t thinking, that’d be funny to say? No way! The director was like, “You haven’t eaten for a bit.” So I was like, fucking chugging down tater tots and I’m just chugging down food the entire scene.

Both the show creator Peter Berg and the showrunner Jason Katims have said they wanted to explore a character, like Tim, who comes home to a small town, without having really tried to “make it” in the big world, and have that be alright. Not everyone has to leave. I think we’re dealing right now with the transition of Tim’s coming home and the fact that he’s not who he was before he left. The town has kind of moved on, especially in terms of football. There was that scene where Billy just lays it on Tim and Tim can’t grasp why Billy’s snapping on him. And then Tim basically says, “I just want to come home.” He doesn’t have much else. Later on in the season it circles back to the pilot, to the Texas forever speech, where Tim just says he is going to get a plot of land. That’s truly just as simple as he feels about life. He’s a simple guy, a small town Texas kid. We have football guys that come and play on the football team who are living what I’m playing right now. Maybe not living in a trailer, but they were definitely 18, 19, 20, 21 years old playing college football in front of a 100,000 people and all the sudden it’s taken away from them. I think Tim has always been lost, but football was the place where he had a sense of purpose, at least when he was out in the field. That’s why I think so maybe people relate to Tim. You meet people in their 40’s who still don’t have that one purpose that gets them up in the morning. Tim exemplifies that.

Are you going to have to cut your hair to play John Carter? I hope so.

A thousand fan girls just cried. This year Riggin’s hair is ridiculously long. I have never had it longer. It’s well past my shoulders.

So if it was up to you, you’d have cut it already? Right now, I’m totally in Riggins mode so I like it. He’s living in a trailer and he’s a mechanic so like, really, why is he going to try and look good? I think that’s the least of his worries.

When was the last time you had short hair? When I was 19. I can’t wait for John Carter. He’s going to have a lot of looks, believe me. There’s this one part where he’s just so grizzled. I’m pumped. I can’t wait to dive into it and all the prep and all the other actors. I think we’re going to hit the ground running. We’re very ready.

Have you read the John Carter of Mars books? I have now. I’ve been studying. The books don’t give Carter a backstory to dive into, so I’ve been studying the Civil War. I sat down with a historian for like seven hours straight to talk about Civil War stories and that helped a lot. It’s everything, the mindset, why they fought. Life was a lot simpler in the 1800’s and hopefully we can bring that to the film. It was fucking raw the way they lived out there and I love that part of it. Sword training is starting up too, which I love. Horseback riding, gun fighting, and of course, just the training to get ready for the physicality of it.

Did you have to audition for the part? Oh, believe me. A lot of the actors, their resumes are self-explanatory and I was up against some great cats, man. The screen test was the most intense screen test. They want to see if you have the chops to carry this guy. It wasn’t as simple as going in and reading a scene, I’ll tell you that much. The stakes are incredibly high. It’s a big movie. Hopefully it’s a ten-year job.

Does that stress you out? Man, you have your days just because you want it so bad and you want to do a great job. I’m very passionate about my deal so, yeah, of course. It’s not a bad stress where I wake up and say “Oh my god, I’m doing this and that,” but it’s just keep putting your head down and go to work.

Tell me about The Bang Bang Club. I’ll get to see a lot of it this Sunday and I’m incredibly nervous for it. I put so much into it, I needed a lot of counseling to come out of it. Coming home I had some problems, just adjusting to find me again. You just kind of lose yourself in it and I had some difficulties getting back to everyday stuff. I had kidney problems doing that as well. It was just heavy. The stakes are so high. You’re playing somebody who left such a mark. It’s a true story and the family is going to watch it so you put anything and everything you can into doing it. I’m incredibly proud of what we did with it so I’m just hoping it came out. I know in my gut though that I played every moment as honestly as I possibly could. Every moment was truthful and as an actor, that’s a very rare deal, especially when there’s so much demanded for this role. No joke, I think every scene after the halfway mark I was on bandaged knees and broken down. It takes a lot to play that truthfully and to go there day in and day out. I’m incredibly anxious to see i

You seen to be attracted to parts that have a big physical component. I think it helps when you have a lot of substance to dive into, when you have a lot of layers to play. As an actor, as ironic as it is, it makes it a bit easier to go, “Okay, I know what I have to do for Kevin Carter. I have to lose this much weight. I have to look like this, walk like this. I’m going to shadow this photographer. I’ll know this inside out and then I’ll work on this mental state.” That gives me a lay out of what to do. If I go, “Okay, I’m going to play this good looking guy whose a quarterback for a football team,” I think I’d be fucking terrible at that. Just because there’s nothing to grab onto, there’s not much substance there. To play some generic guy who just comes in and out and there’s nothing to him that’s hard. I think that’s very soapy and that’s where I tip my hat to those guys because there’s no way I could do it. I would look so bad if I went onto something like that. I think it’s just a different art in it’s own right.

Like the art of faking it, you mean? The more real it is and the more stuff to dive into, the more honest I can be with it and dive into it. So it just feels a lot more organic that way.

Photo by Jeff Wilson Grooming Darilyn Nagy Location Donn’s Depot, Austin, TX