Actor Taylor Kitsch says playing gay in the upcoming HBO film The Normal Heart was outside his “comfort zone.”

Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) plays Bruce Niles, a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist, in the film adaptation of Larry Kramer's Tony Award-winning AIDS play.

In remarks to Vulture, Kitsch said that signing up for the part has been an education.

“I mean, look: I was born in ’81. I had no idea about the whole AIDS epidemic,” Kitsch said. “I'm straight, and playing a gay guy who's leading a double life, who's still in the closet, who's losing his lovers, who has AIDS but won't admit it to himself, who ends up dying … I mean, where do you want to start? Fuck me, dude. It's insane. The body type, the fact that he works at Citibank, very high up on Wall Street, so learning that part of it and reading an insane amount of books about guys who were leading those kinds of lives, learning about AZT and where it started … I knew probably the surface stuff, but what I learned for this, the education I got, that was another great tool.”

“Being out of your comfort zone is why you become an actor,” Kitsch added. “You try to stretch yourself as much as you can.”