In a new clip from HBO's adaptation of The Normal Heart, Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo) and The New York Times reporter Felix Turner (Matt Bomer) meet for the first time. Their initial encounter is less than flirty as Weeks puts the pressure on Turner to write about the AIDS crisis, which is being ignored by the media.
As the central relationship in the movie, the characters quickly fall in love and share a number of intimate moments on screen. However, director Ryan Murphy reveals that the two actors initially had difficulty filming these sexually-charged moments.
“Mark, I believe, had never kissed a guy, ever, on camera,” Murphy said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “And he had certainly never had that level of sexuality. And I don’t think Matt had either. So I had a gay actor and a straight actor. And they were both terrified. But I just threw them into it. And the first day of shooting was the scene in the movie where Mark has to walk out of a sauna where two guys are going at it and walk by Matt, and sort of ignore him, and Matt looks on lasciviously. We shot that almost as an homage to the bathhouse ads they used to run in New York in the early '80s."
In order to make the actors feel comfortable—and to make the scenes look credible—the director hired a sex choreographer.
“[The sex choreographer] would come and he would work with the actors and it was like, ‘Okay, then you move your leg here, and your asshole 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.’”