Mark Ruffalo has had an interesting film career that has only been elevated by his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But even without the Hulk in his resume, Ruffalo has shown he has an eye for diverse and challenging topics in his film choices. Also, literally everyone loves him? Read more about Ruffalo with these 42 facts.
Mark Ruffalo Facts
42. Hulk Me Twice
Although many actors have played Bruce Banner, Ruffalo is only the second actor to have played the role more than once. The first was Bill Bixby, who starred in all the low-budget Hulk movies and shows in the 70s and 80s.
41. Let’s Get Clean
Ruffalo plays a major role in the Solutions Project, which is an organization whose end goal is using solar power and wind power (amongst others) to make the United States’ sources of energy 100% renewable. A noble cause if ever we’ve heard one.
40. Shame on You, Sir
Ruffalo took his environmental cause to documentary format in 2016. The project was titled Dear President Obama: The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now, and it offered a scathing analysis of how Obama oversaw an expansion of oil and natural gas drilling. There’s no word on whether Obama ever saw the documentary, but we’d like to think that he felt at least a little bit bothered that Mark Ruffalo was upset with him.
39. Thrilled by "Thriller"
One of the first films that put Ruffalo in the public eye was the Jennifer Garner comedy 13 Going on 30. One of the famous sequences of that film is when Ruffalo and Garner lead a party in the dance to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller." Ruffalo was actually terrified of doing that sequence before filming began, but found his inspiration in Garner’s boundless energy and optimism on set.
38. I Got a Week to Spare
Ruffalo famously appeared in the main cast of the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are Alright, playing the role of the biological father of two children raised by a lesbian couple. As big as his role was, however, Ruffalo managed to film all of his scenes in only six days. It seems he only needed one take to get things done.
37. Maybe That Backfired
When MSNBC went through a purge in 2015, it resulted in some shows, including The Cycle, being canceled. When the network then announced that it was hiring Nicole Wallace, George Will, Hugh Hewitt, and Greta van Susteren, Mark Ruffalo was a part of a a petition to stop MSNBC’s hiring of so many white conservatives.
36. In Good Company
Ruffalo spent years studying at the Stella Adler Academy. This is the same academy that trained Marlon Brando, Salma Hayek, Robert De Niro, Kate Mulgrew, and Martin Sheen, among others.
35. Stuff It, Donnie Darko
The role of Dylan Rhodes in the Now You See Me film franchise wasn’t originally meant to be played by Mark Ruffalo. Jake Gyllenhaal was cast first, but he ultimately dropped out.
34. Method to his Madness
Ruffalo has been known to improvise on the sets of his films. In 13 Going on 30, he allegedly improvised several scenes with Jennifer Garner, and he joined in with the rest of the cast when they improvised much of their dialogue in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Must be all the method training he got at the Adler Academy.
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The improvising on the set of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind actually came from the director himself. In one scene, Ruffalo’s character, Stan, scares Mary, played by Kirsten Dunst. To get a genuine reaction of fear from Dunst, director Michel Gondry had Ruffalo hide in a different location of the set with every new take. It wasn’t like Dunst could just act scared or something.
32. Is That a Record?
One of Ruffalo’s most acclaimed performances was in the HBO movie The Normal Heart, an adaptation of the highly acclaimed play by LGBTQ activist and writer Larry Kramer. The movie was nominated for a whopping 16 Emmy awards when it came out, nominating almost everyone in the main cast for an award, including Ruffalo. Sadly, because the world is unfair, this heartbreaking film about the early days of the AIDS crisis only won two of those Emmys.
31. It Started in the 80s
Ruffalo’s involvement with The Normal Heart isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows of Ruffalo’s experience growing up in the AIDS crisis. Though he isn’t himself LGBTQ, Ruffalo lived in Los Angeles, witnessing many people suffering from the disease. According to Ruffalo, he worked alongside another waiter who was sick with AIDS yet had no health insurance and was forced to continue working under appalling conditions. This, among other incidents, led Ruffalo to seek out more information on AIDS and the lack of help from the government at the time (thanks Reagan).
30. He Needed Convincing
Because Ruffalo does not identify as LGBTQ, he nearly refused to play the lead role in The Normal Heart. He was allegedly terrified at getting the performance wrong or stealing an LGBTQ role from an LGBTQ actor. It took both director Ryan Murphy and the original playwright Larry Kramer to offer their support and respect for Ruffalo’s off-camera activism and acting talent before he relented and took the part.
29. Freaky Friday?
In The Brothers Bloom, Ruffalo co-stars with Adrien Brody as two brothers who are highly successful con men. Interestingly, they had initially been cast in each other’s roles before filming began. The actors actually swapped roles after they persuaded the filmmakers that it would work better that way. Watch the movie and decide for yourself.
28. See You on The Avengers
Interestingly, the two co-leads of Zodiac, Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr., would go on to headline several Marvel films as the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, respectively. Though, given how many people have appeared in the Marvel films, we could spend all day listing the connections in Ruffalo’s filmography (don’t worry, we won’t).
27. Nothing Like a Second Chance
If director Louis Leterrier had had his way, Ruffalo’s involvement with Marvel would have begun in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk. Ruffalo had been Leterrier’s first choice for the role of Bruce Banner, but the studio preferred Edward Norton—this would change immensely by the time production was done. Ruffalo later got his turn with The Avengers.
26. Find That Man
Ruffalo’s film Zodiac focused on the ultimately unsuccessful hunt to catch the Zodiac killer. Interestingly, the case was re-opened after the film’s release. Maybe we’ll get a sequel with a happy ending!
25. Keep it in the Family
Of all the films that Ruffalo has done so far, one that he pursued the hardest to make was the drama film Infinitely Polar Bear, which follows a family whose father suffers from bipolar disorder. Ruffalo reportedly had to fight very hard to get the lead role of Cam Stuart. Interestingly, the film was not only a true story but was directed by Cam Stuart’s daughter.
24. What Would the Fans Think?
We would be remiss to ignore the fact that the wife of Ruffalo’s character in Infinitely Polar Bear is played by Zoe Saldana. Saldana and Ruffalo play Gamora and the Incredible Hulk, respectively, in the Marvel films, and both are coincidentally the only green protagonists amongst their many co-stars. Hours in the makeup chair getting green was something to bond over, no doubt.
23. When is it Being Released???
Ruffalo appeared in the Kenneth Lonergan film, Margaret, in 2007. However, the lawsuits that resulted as the studio clashed with Lonergan over the final cut of the film meant that Margaret wasn’t released until 2011.
22. Roommate for Ruffalo
While working on the film Reservation Road, Ruffalo shared a house with his co-lead, Joaquin Phoenix. Given the premise of their film, it’s rather ironic that these two should bunk up together while filming took place.
21. Chip Off the Old Block
When Ruffalo appeared in the film Begin Again, he managed to combine it with “Bring Your Child to Work Day.” One of the extras in the film is played by his son, Keen.
20. Money Where His Mouth Is
Some people might remember the famous resistance that thousands of people launched against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. Many celebrities who identify as activists voiced their support for the movement on social media, but several, including Ruffalo, did one better and actually showed up to participate in the movement. Ruffalo managed to avoid getting arrested, though we are sure he would have had a good joke about being the Hulk if it came to that.
19. Just Play Yourself
When it came to acting as real-life reporter Michael Rezendes in the scandal-reporting film Spotlight, Ruffalo was very determined to play the journalist as accurately as possible. He would reportedly have Rezendes read out his lines before filming began, and he even reportedly asked Rezendes if he could “listen to you yell at someone?”
18. I’m More Handsome Than I Remembered…
All the preparation that Ruffalo did for his role as Michael Rezendes in Spotlight ended up paying off with critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination and praise from Rezendes himself. According to the journalist, "Watching Mark Ruffalo re-enact five months of my life was like looking into a funhouse mirror."
17. Seeking the Truth
It turns out that Ruffalo has quite a few questions about the 9/11 attacks, as well as how the subsequent investigation was carried out. In 2007 and 2011, he voiced his suspicions with how the Commission allegedly glosses over a lot of aspects about the attacks. He also expressed his concern that in the wake of the attacks, many civil liberties were lost in the name of national security.
16. It’s the Principle!
When he took the role of an LAPD officer in Collateral, Ruffalo wanted to make sure that he would look competent when using a gun. He underwent extensive training on how an officer of the law uses their firearms when on duty. Those who have seen the movie, however, might recall that Ruffalo’s character never uses his gun in the film!
15. This Time It’s Personal
Ruffalo was one of the first major celebrities to come out against the practice of fracking. Conducting his own research, Ruffalo joined the movement with banners flying (pun intended).
14. Let Me Speak!
Despite playing the role of Bruce Banner, Ruffalo didn’t voice the Hulk until Thor: Ragnarok. Before that film, Lou Ferrigno had stepped in to supply his voice to the Hulk (older fans might remember that Ferrigno had played the Incredible Hulk in the television series).
13. A Faithful Supporter
Not only did Ruffalo endorse Bernie Sanders in his campaign to lead the Democratic Party, he also lent his voice to narrate Sanders’ book Our Revolution in audio format. We’re hoping that he avoided using his Hulk voice in the process.
12. The People You Know
After watching the film High Art, Ruffalo approached its director, Lisa Cholodenko, and expressed his interest in working with her someday. Cholodenko took this to heart, calling him years later when she had a film project that she thought would suit him. The film was The Kids Are Alright, and it led to Ruffalo’s first Oscar nomination.
11. Did He Also Run to Philadelphia?
For his Oscar-nominated performance in Foxcatcher, Ruffalo went through a rigorous training process for nearly six months to get into the shape of an Olympic wrestler. He ended up putting on 30 pounds for the role, presumably while the Rocky soundtrack was playing full blast.
10. How About a Good Cry to Ease the Tension?
The training that both Ruffalo and Channing Tatum did for Foxcatcher ended up taking a serious toll on the actors. They would allegedly spend all day filming and then spend their evenings in further wrestling practice. According to Tatum, the process was so intense that he and Ruffalo cried once their final practice was over.
9. Isn’t It Obvious?
Those Foxcatcher training days had some prelude: when Ruffalo was in Junior High and High School, he actually competed in wrestling events.
8. The Dangerous Mark Ruffalo
Since joining the anti-fracking movement, Ruffalo helped arrange for the documentary Gasland (three guesses what it’s about) to be screened several times in Pennsylvania. According to the actor, this was enough to get his name on a terror advisory list by the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security. Ruffalo himself found the news quite “radical.”
7. A Near Miss
Around 2000, Ruffalo was diagnosed with a brain tumor known as an acoustic neuroma. While it did cause partial facial paralysis in Ruffalo, it was thankfully a benign tumor. Luckily, they were able to remove the tumor successfully. While Ruffalo's tumor operation was a success, the effect of the tumor still left its mark on him. He went deaf in his left ear because of the tumor.
6. Spoiler Alert (Not Really)
Mark Ruffalo has a knack for unwittingly spoiling MCU films, and Infinity War is no exception—he accidentally let out a major spoiler all the way back in 2017. We won't say what it was—you can Google that—but it wasn't the first time he let something slip, jokingly or not. He once accidentally streamed a portion of the audio for Thor: Ragnarok when he forgot to turn his Instagram live feed off.
5. Boy, the Violence Looks Real
In one incident on the set of Foxcatcher, Ruffalo and Tatum were filming a scene where their characters wrestle. Tatum urged Ruffalo to “slap the sh*t out of [him] and get it over with.” Ruffalo obliged, popping Tatum’s eardrum in the process. That take was allegedly used in the final version of the film.
4. No Veggie Option?
When it came to Zodiac, David Fincher’s film on the hunt for the Zodiac killer, there is a scene where Ruffalo’s character is in a restaurant being treated to a hamburger. However, his character is also seen spitting the chewed food into a napkin. Ruffalo refused to actually consume meat, as he is a vegetarian. But don't mistake him for unprofessional—he prepared for the role by spending time with the man he was playing, David Toschi, and according to a relative of Toschi, he completely embodied the role, and had Toschi's way of speaking and mannerisms down to a science.
3. What a Response!
Ruffalo once sent acclaimed director Martin Scorsese a fan letter, gushing over the man’s films and expressing just how badly he would like to work with him. Reportedly, this is the way that Scorsese ended up casting Ruffalo in his thriller Shutter Island. So, keep sending that fan mail! You never know what kind of a response you’ll get!
2. Too Method for Me, Man
According to Ruffalo, he was genuinely terrified of Steve Carell on the set of Foxcatcher, where Carell played the wrestling enthusiast John du Pont. Carell allegedly got so into character as the disturbed murderer du Pont that the cast and crew avoided his very presence whenever they could.
1. Terrible Loss
Very tragically, Ruffalo’s brother Scott was shot in the head on the first of December 2008. Despite attempts to save his life, Scott passed away a week later. The case remains unsolved as of 2018.