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Julia Roberts to star in Sky Atlantic's HIV drama The Normal Heart

(Image credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Julia Roberts will star in HIV drama The Normal Heart, to be broadcast on Sky Atlantic.

The Oscar-winning actress will appear in an adaptation by Larry Kramer of his acclaimed play, which explores the HIV and AIDS crisis in New York in the early 1980s when gay activists and doctors tried to make America aware of the disease.

Julia will play a woman who has battled polio and now treats HIV and AIDS sufferers, while The Avengers' Mark Ruffalo will play a writer who starts to ask questions about the disease as it begins to ravage the gay community, and White Collar's Matt Bomer plays his reporter lover.

The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, who appeared in the play on Broadway, stars as a gay activist.

The drama, which will screen on Sky Atlantic in the summer and has been made by US cable channel HBO, also features Alfred Molina, Law & Order's Joe Mantello and Looking and Glee's Jonathan Groff, and has been co-executive produced by Brad Pitt and Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, who also directs the film.