A brief encounter with Mark Ruffalo

By Helen Barlow

Canvas magazine's Helen Barlow talks to US actor Mark Ruffalo.
Actor Mark Ruffalo. Photo / Getty Images
Actor Mark Ruffalo. Photo / Getty Images

How did you become successful?

My wife Sunrise gave me the encouragement to put my acting career into gear. She'd been living on her own since she was a young model travelling the world, and she understood the world in a way I didn't.

Who else do you need to thank?

Sunrise is friends with Julianne Moore, who told Lisa Cholodenko I'd be good for The Kids Are All Right. Lisa even wrote the role for me, but at the time I was busy editing my own film, so Sunrise was texting Julianne saying, "Yes Mark's still available, he'll do it; it's all he can talk about, I can't live with him." I thank my lucky stars to have such a good women beside me. I like working with women directors.

Describe your home life.

We have what we call in my family "my re-entry", where I have to get back into my home after being out in the movie world. I like living a normal life.

Would you like to make another film with Jane Campion?

I was emailing Jane at 4 o' clock in the morning recently when I couldn't sleep because of jetlag. I've kept in contact with her since we made In the Cut. We check in because she's my buddy. Maybe we'll work together again. She's one of the greatest actors' directors working today and she has influenced me more than any other director.

What was the appeal, as an actor, of Spotlight?

I've always felt the need to tell important stories, but they're not making as many of those kinds of movies anymore and when they do they're not asking me to be in them. Movies rise out of a culture, as The Kids Are All Right did with gay marriage in America. Spotlight is the same, as the Catholic Church steps out of a kind of fog that it seems to have been in for so long.

Who do you pray to?

I'm a lapsed Catholic, though I started to pray during a difficult period of my life linked to my illness with a brain tumour. When that happens to you, it's like, "Oh shit, this is going to end one day, so you'd better get on with it!" I didn't want to live afraid and I wanted to realise my full potential. I had a new determination that was scary for some people and it took a while for them to get used to that.

You like "important" roles and then ... there's the Hulk?

It's fun playing the Hulk. I get to play an interesting role, which was my first interest, and it allows me to do other things I want to do. But my worry now is, does anyone want to see me in anything other than that? People don't know my name when I walk down the street. It's just like "Hey, Hulk!" I'm literally trying to find my way through it all. I'm a Lego character and my kids play with me. That's awesome.

What's your view on social media?

I use Twitter a lot. I've found it to be a wonderful democratising tool. The bad guys can't hide in the way they used to because the way you hid was to keep information from people and you just can't do that shit any more. We're all at the cusp of this thing and we don't even know where it's headed, but what we're seeing is a lot of the ugliness being exposed.

Do you think you make a difference through your work and by speaking in public?

I was taught that actors should have a responsibility about political issues when I studied with Stella Adler. She was one of the great acting teachers as well as being a political activist. My thinking is, whether you like it or not, people are looking to you for some kind of guidance. So I do it partly because it makes me feel good, but part of it is because I believe it's for the good of everybody.

- Canvas

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