When it comes to the most famous and talented actors in Hollywood, there are many names which may strike your mind including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and now Daniel Kaluuya. However, other than the highly commercial stars, there is one actor who has proved his mettle quite a number of times. He is now popular amongst the audience as the ‘Hulk’ and loved by fans worldwide.
Mark Ruffalo is simply unavoidable. The 50-year-old star has three Academy nominations to his name and is the winner of two SAG awards. Not only an actor, he is a social activist too. In a career spanning over 25 years, Ruffalo has worked in more than 55 films. Some of his incredible performances include – Michael Rezendes in ‘Spotlight’, Bruce Banner / Hulk in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, Dave Schultz in ‘Foxcatcher’ and Agent Dylan Rhodes in ‘Now You See Me’.
Ruffalo is a kind of actor who remains sorted on his work front, never tries to get involved in any controversy like many others do, and loves to post images on Instagram where he can be seen doing everything else other than movies. Remember how he went live accidentally on Facebook and posted the audio of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ from the premiere? He knows how to be a charmer after all.
Let us understand how Ruffalo became the audience’s favorite and struggled his way to make it big in Hollywood.
Early Life With Undiagnosed Dyslexia
Mark Ruffalo was born in the year 1967 in the United States. Though his family struggled to make their ends meet, he described himself as a ‘happy child’ while he was growing up. As a young adult, he spent much time struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia and ADD. Having spent his teen years in Virginia, where wrestling kept him much interested, he later found his own theatre company, the Orpheus Theatre Company. At his theatre, Ruffalo worked as a writer, director, and actor apart from being a bartender for almost a decade. Nothing happened initially on the acting forefront before Ruffalo appeared in low key films like ‘The Dentist’ and ‘Safe Men’.
Small Beginnings In Hollywood
It almost happened by chance that Ruffalo got to meet writer Kenneth Lonergan and then started appearing in his plays. One of the popular plays he starred in was ‘This is Our Youth’ (1996) which later landed him in the film by the same name. Ruffalo’s role as Laura Linney’s character’s brother grabbed some attention and he got to win two prestigious awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Montreal World Film Festival. While people started comparing this particular performance to that of Marlon Brando, the movie also got nominated for Academy Awards in 2000. Mark Ruffalo was then a star in demand!
Early 2000s marked an important era for Ruffalo as he bagged a few important projects including films like ‘XX/XY’ (2002), Isabel Coixet’s ‘My Life Without Me’ (2003), Jane Campion’s ‘In the Cut’ (2003), Michel Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004), and ‘We Don’t Live Here Anymore’ (2004). He made his first big-league appearance opposite Tom Cruise (who was then a big star), in the film ‘Collateral’ (2004). On the other hand, he also starred as a romantic lead in films like ‘View From the Top’ (2002), ’13 Going on 30′ (2004), ‘Just Like Heaven’ (2005) and ‘Rumor Has It’ (2005). His role in the 2006 play ‘Awake and Sing!’ landed him his first Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
For years, Ruffalo tried his hands on experimenting various genres and characters. Starring opposite high profile actors was never a part of his plan. Instead, he worked as per the director and the script. He bagged roles in films by well-known directors including Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’, Brian Goodman’s ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, Lisa Cholodenko’s ‘The Kids Are All Right’, but there have been times when he gave utter importance to thought-provoking roles as well. One of the roles which bagged him his first Academy Award nomination (Best Supporting Actor) was for the film ‘The Kids Are All Right’. This was one particular film in which the director, Lisa, approached Ruffalo as she only wanted him and no other actor to play the role.
Ruffalo As Hulk!
Who would not want to be a part of a highly commercial franchise by Marvel Cinematic Universe and play the Hulk? In the ‘Avengers’ (2012) which is the sixth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner popularly known as the Hulk. His performance as Hulk has received positive reviews so far and he is already in demand for an independent ‘Hulk’ film. Last year in an interview given to Variety, Ruffalo quoted, “I want to just make one thing perfectly clear today: A standalone ‘Hulk’ movie will never happen. Universal has the rights, and for some reason, they don’t know how to play well with Marvel. And they don’t want to make money.”
Hulk, the celebrated gladiator, has now got a huge fan base and Ruffalo has done some incredible amount of improvisation and handwork to live up to the audience’s expectations. The actor is now under contract to play the role in any upcoming film appearance of the character, under the production of Marvel Studios.
Apart from this, we also saw Mark as Banner in ‘Iron Man 3’, in which he had a cameo. This also made him the first actor to reprise the character when it comes to a live-action film. He played the role again in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015) and ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017). He is also gearing up to appear in the upcoming films ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and its untitled sequel set for release in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Ruffalo’s dexterity with which he is able to do a variety of characters is exhilarating. In 2014, he starred as Ned Weeks in a television adaptation of Larry Kramer’s AIDS-era play – ‘The Normal Heart’. This performance earned him an Emmy nomination.
Towards More Academy Nominations
‘Foxcatcher’ was one film for which Ruffalo received another Oscar nomination. Being a wrestler himself in his early days, Ruffalo found that the film’s subject was presented in a way he never saw before. However, the nomination didn’t happen that easy to him. The actor unlearned everything he already knew and went through a major physical transformation to look like Dave Schultz. While critics called this a performance of his life, Ruffalo started working on his next project, which till date is believed to be his best act so far.
Tom McCarthy’s investigative journalism drama ‘Spotlight’ (2015) bagged him another Oscar nomination. This time, Mark was more confident, mature and had put the required amount of inquisitiveness in his character. This was a serious role, relatively low-key but had all the momentum Ruffalo needed to stay in the game.
Two years had passed since then, however, for Mark Ruffalo, there seems to be no looking back. Two important superhero films are on his way and he is already working hard for them. It will be really interesting to see how future unfolds for this talented actor, he still has a long way to go and his journey serves as an inspiration to many young actors who believe that an already popular actor can never be replaced (in reference to the previous Hulk actors).