Interview: Mark Ruffalo of ‘The Avengers’
‘You can’t be a half-hearted Hulk …’
Relaxed and serene, Mark Ruffalo is kinda-sorta living through his character’s arc in “The Avengers,” a mild-mannered actor finally unleashing the blockbuster scene-stealer within. Playing Bruce Banner – and Banner’s jade-green superheroic alter-ego, The Hulk – Ruffalo is, in the eyes of many reviewers, the best thing in “The Avengers,” striking a great balance between the human and the heroic. We spoke with Ruffalo in Los Angeles about the jump to widescreen action, the joy of CGI muscles and the total commitment required when you have to roar and rage as the basis for a computer-generated comic book icon.
MSN Movies: I'm familiar with you from great independent films throughout the years, "You Can Count on Me," "Margaret," things like that, but now you're in all of this. I'm curious about how is that different and how is that the same?
Mark Ruffalo: Good question. Everything is just much much bigger. It takes a lot longer to do anything. The craft service table is much nicer than most of the lunches of the smaller movies. Ultimately, you're still hoping you're still playing your character, listening and responding, and doing some fairly decent moment-to-moment acting.
I'm also curious: Mr. Hemsworth, Mr. Evans, they have to look all muscle-y in this; Ms. Johansson and Mr. Renner have to fit into their killer outfits … but your muscles are all CGI. Was that an attractive part of taking the part?
(Laughs) I've never looked so good with doing so little
Right. They go "click" and you're taller and you're stronger.
I think it’s more than one click, but yeah, they did a nice job of making me look pretty burly.
The character is kind of this great variation of the Nutty Professor, only instead of turning into a lounge singer, you become The Hulk. Is it fun to play an absent-minded academic in the middle of all of this?
Yeah, I think it’s a really nice dichotomy to The Hulk. The guy's a pacifist. He's sweet. He's got a nice sense of morality, and then you have this monster that lives inside of him. The more you can separate the two, I think the more exciting it is when you go "Boom" and the big guy comes out.
When you’re on-screen as, as the film calls him the Other Guy, which is a great touch, you're doing all that vocalization. You're doing those facial expressions. Is it like primal scream therapy? Are you just wiped out by the end of it?
Yeah, it's very physical. I did everything that the Hulk does. I did it many many times. At first it's really awkward. I'll never forget the first time I did my Hulk yell on set with all the other actors. They were all like, "Really? Is he going to do it like that?" You really have to commit yourself to it and throw yourself into it, but it was very satisfying once I went there.
Nobody likes a half-hearted Hulk.
That's right. You can't be a half-hearted Hulk.
Watch the interview here.
(“The Avengers” opens this Friday.)