LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Julia Roberts will star as a paraplegic physician treating patients early in the AIDS epidemic in the stage-to-screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning drama “The Normal Heart,” US cable television network HBO said.

“The Normal Heart,” set to air on HBO in 2014, tells the story of the dawning of the epidemic in 1980s New York.

Oscar-winner Roberts plays Dr. Emma Brookner, who treats several early patients infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Co-star Mark Ruffalo plays Ned Weeks, an eyewitness to how the disease ravaged the city’s gay community.

The film will be directed by “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy and was adapted by the play’s author, Larry Kramer, an early advocate for AIDS prevention and care.