Barbra Streisand has spoken about her struggle to direct her own adaptation of The Normal Heart.
The singer and actress acquired the rights to Larry Kramer’s play in 1985 and spent ten years working with another writer to develop a “cinematic” screenplay, before the rights reverted back to Kramer.
Streisand told The Hollywood Reporter “When I saw The Normal Heart in 1985 I was very moved and immediately contacted Larry to acquire the rights.
“After going through several drafts with Larry in my director capacity, I hired another writer to develop a screenplay that was faithful to Larry’s play – but adapting it to make it more cinematic.
“It was finished in 1995. Ralph Fiennes and Kenneth Branagh were interested in doing the version that I worked on.”
Streisand explained how she struggled to raise enough money to make the film due to the “controversial nature of the material” at the time. She added that Kramer was unwilling to go forward for any less than $1,000,000 (approximately £600,000).
“After 10 years, the rights reverted back to Larry. But even when I had no contractual involvement, I still persisted in pressing to get The Normal Heart made, purely because I believed in the project,” she said.
The 71-year-old said it was hard to hear Kramer blame her for the movie not getting off the ground, adding: “I worked on it for 25 years, without pay. Larry had the rights for the last 15 years and he couldn’t get it made, either. Those are the facts.”
Kramer offered Streisand the opportunity to direct the film in 2007, but she turned down the offer as Kramer wanted to go forward with his own screenplay.
She concluded: “I will always believe in Larry’s play and its powerful theme about everyone’s right to love. It’s been 28 years since I tried to get this piece made… so much has happened since. But I’m glad it’s finally here.”
The Normal Heart – starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer and Julia Roberts – will air on HBO on May 25. It will air on Sky Atlantic in the UK.