Taylor Kitsch joins Julia Roberts in 'The Normal Heart'

Last year turned out to be pretty rough for Taylor Kitsch, but the ex-Friday Night Lights star is making all the right moves in bouncing back. His upcoming film may be his best shot yet, as he'll Ryan Murphy's adaptation of The Normal Heart, based on Larry Kramer's Tony award-winning play about the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis.

The HBO film already boasts an impressive ensemble, with Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Mark Ruffalo on board. Kramer is adapting his own script, largely seen as an autobiographical work. Kitsch will play Bruce Niles, a prominent investment banker who becomes an important activist. Parson will be jumping back into the role he originated on stage, playing gay activist Tommy Boatwright. Roberts is Dr. Emma Brookner, who treats some of the earliest HIV cases. The story is largely told from the perspective of Ned Weeks, portrayed by Ruffalo, who sees his gay community ravaged by the disease and start seeking answers. Bomer plays Felix Turner, a reporter and Ned's lover. Alec Baldwin had been up for a role previously, but his name hasn't been mentioned of late.

Paired up with last year's Oscar-nominated documentary, How to Survive a Plague (Julian's review here), we're getting more in-depth looks at that time period and that particular crisis than we have in years. We saw a flood of them back in the 90s, but we were absent the luxury of time and perspective. Production on The Normal Heart begins later this year for a 2014 release. Keep an eye on this one. [Deadline]