20 Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Ruffalo

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Mark Ruffalo is known for being interested in not just acting but also a wide range of acting-related activities. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that he is not just an actor but also both a film director and a film producer. Although he is best known for his role as Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is important to note that he has had a long and successful career before that particular role, meaning that there is much information available about him to those who are interested in learning more.

Here are 20 things that you may or may not have known about Mark Ruffalo:

Spotlight - UK Premiere

1. As a Child, He Had Dyslexia

To paraphrase Ruffalo, he had a childhood filled with happiness, though it had its share of complications. For example, he had dyslexia, which makes it a challenge for people to read text in spite of being of normal intelligence in other respects. Considering the importance of reading to not just school but also the rest of life, it should come as no surprise to learn that this resulted in a serious struggle for Ruffalo.

Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' 2014 Governors Awards - Arrivals

2. As a Child, He Had ADD

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Ruffalo had ADD as a child as well, which is not uncommon for people with dyslexia. ADD is short for attention deficit disorder, which is when someone has trouble focusing on something that needs both care and consideration, thus increasing their chances of making careless mistakes when it comes to their schoolwork as well as similar matters. Unsurprisingly, this too resulted in a serious struggle for Ruffalo.

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3. He Used to Wrestle Back in School

His father was the wrestling champion of the city not once but three times. As a result, Ruffalo followed in his father’s footsteps as someone who competed in wrestling in both junior high and high school in not one but two states. While he won no particular distinction, his wrestling experience did prove useful when he played a wrestler in Foxcatcher, which was a role that got him an Oscar nomination though not an Oscar win.

Giffoni Film Festival 2015 - Day 2

4. He Studied Acting in Los Angeles

Eventually, Ruffalo moved to the city of Los Angeles, where he began learning how to act by attending classes at the official West Coast Branch of the Stella Adler Conservatory. Like its name suggests, said institution was founded by Stella Adler, who was not just an acclaimed actress but also an acclaimed acting teacher who can claim a significant number of famous actors and actresses that have graduated from her conservatory. Although she is no longer with us, her successors are still teaching her acting methods to new students.

The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Backstage and Audience

5. He Co-Founded the Orpheus Theater Company

Ruffalo’s wide range of interests when it comes to acting and acting-related activities can be seen in his time with the Orpheus Theater Company, which he co-founded. While he was with said company, he did not just act in the plays that its members put on, but also wrote and directed a number of them as well, which speaks well of his capabilities in this regard. For people who are unfamiliar with the name, Orpheus was one of the most famous figures in Greek mythology, who played music so well that he managed to convince the Lord and Lady of the Underworld to restore his lover to life but failed to follow their instructions in the matter.

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6. He Spent a Decade As a Bartender

Like a lot of actors and actresses, Ruffalo had to spend some time in other positions before finding commercial success. In his case, he spent a decade as a bartender, which remains as popular a choice for would-be actors and actresses in the present as it was back then. After all, successful bartenders have to have good social skills, thus making them a natural fit for the kind of people who want to make a living by acting. Never mind their decent pay, their flexible hours, and their fringe benefits.

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Conversations Series Presents: Mark Ruffalo Of "Spotlight"

7. Kenneth Lonergan Launched Ruffalo’s Career

Ruffalo managed to score a number of appearance in both movies and TV shows. However, the sort of success that he wanted managed to elude him until he met the playwright Kenneth Lonergan by chance before impressing him. As a result, Ruffalo started appearing in Lonergan’s work, which eventually led to recognition for him in the form of awards as well as more and more significant roles.

88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - Arrivals

8. Ruffalo Claims to Have Appeared in 800 Auditions Before Finding Success

Due to this, Ruffalo’s meeeting with Lonergan must have seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime chance. After all, he has claimed in an interview with Moviemaker magazine that he had appeared in 800 auditions before he managed to find the sort of success that he wanted, which speaks well of his perseverance when it comes to his ambitions if nothing else.

Giffoni Film Festival 2015 - Day 2

9. Ruffalo Overcame a Brain Tumor

Just as he was finding success, Ruffalo was interrupted by the fact that he had a brain tumor. Fortunately, his brain tumor turned out to be benign rather than cancerous. As a result, even though he experienced partial paralysis of his face after his brain tumor had been replaced, he managed to make a full recovery, which in turn, meant a full return to his newfound path to success as an actor.

Meet The Filmmakers: Mark Ruffalo And Kevin Feige

10. Ruffalo Is Deaf in One Ear

With that said, it is important to note that his brain tumor has not left Ruffalo without a reminder of its one-time existence. In short, while he has managed to recover from the partial facial paralysis that resulted from the removal of his brain tumor, Ruffalo remains deaf in his left ear. While this is not as bad as losing hearing in both ears, it is nonetheless a serious problem that makes it more challenging for sufferers to operate under normal conditions because they find it harder to hear what other people would take for granted. Still, considering what else Ruffalo has managed to overcome in his lifetime, it should come as no surprise to learn that he is managing just fine in spite of his hearing loss.

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1

11. He Was Going to Appear in Signs

At the time when he was diagnosed with the brain tumor, Ruffalo was actually getting ready to make an appearance in Signs, where he would have played a supporting role to Mel Gibson as the brother of Gibson’s character. Unfortunately, Ruffalo’s brain tumor meant that he had to drop out in order to focus on getting that particular problem fixed as soon as possible. As a result, his role went to Joaquin Phoenix.

The 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival - Day 4

12. He Replaced Edward Norton As the Hulk

Ruffalo was the one who was chosen to replace Edward Norton as the Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So far, he has appeared in both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, while also making an uncredited appearance in Iron Man 3. This happened because Marvel refused Norton’s attempts to rewrite the movie to suit himself, which in turn, caused Norton to refuse to promote the movie. For obvious reasons, this necessitated that Norton be replaced with someone else, which has worked out well if the critics are any indication.

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13. In Total, Ruffalo Has Signed On for Six Movies

Like the actors for the other main characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ruffalo has signed on to do a number of movies rather than just one or two. This is because comic book movies have long had a problem maintaining a sense of continuity, which resulted in frequent reboots as well as all of the associated consequences thereof. While signing on a number of actors for a number of movies was a risky move on the part of Marvel, its bet seems to have paid off, particularly now that the benefits of long-term planning are starting to show themselves in earnest.

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14. Ruffalo Showed His Versatility By Playing Both Bruce Banner and the Hulk

While Ruffalo is most recognizable as Bruce Banner, he is also responsible for playing Banner’s alter-ego, the Incredible Hulk. This shows his versatility as an actor, but just as importantly, this shows his ability to focus on his acting rather than the circumstances under which he is acting. After all, the Hulk is reliant on computer-generated graphics, meaning that Ruffalo had to act out the scenes while wearing a green leotard as well as crocodile shoes for the motion capture.

Audi Arrivals at The World Premiere Of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron"

15. Has Been Nominated for the Same Oscar Three Times

In total, Ruffalo has been nominated for the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor not once but three times. The first time was The Kids Are All Right in 2010, which saw him playing the sperm donor for a lesbian couple who had two children. Afterwards, he received nominations for the true crime film Foxcatcher in 2014 and then the biographical drama film Spotlight in 2015. While Ruffalo has not managed to win an Oscar so far, he is still in the prime of his career as an actor. Not to mention that he has won other awards as well as other forms of recognition.

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16. Is a Staunch Opponent of Fracking

Ruffalo became a staunch opponent of fracking when he started reading up on the issue when gas companies became interested in a plot of land in the state of New York that was owned by his family. For people who are unfamiliar with the concept, fracking means injecting high-pressure water as well as other substances into a wellbore for the purpose of cracking deep-rock formations so that it will be easier to extract the hydrocarbons contained in them. Unsurprisingly, this contaminates the water while causing a number of other serious environmental issues, with one particularly interesting example being an increase in the chances of earthquakes.

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1

17. Is a Staunch Supporter of Renewable Energy

Given his opposition to fracking, it should come as no surprise to learn that Ruffalo is also opposed to other non-renewable sources of energy, which he shows by pushing for renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind. In short, he believes that solar and wind have matured enough to become commercially-viable, meaning that he believes the United States should start making a full switch over to them as soon as possible so that it can begin weaning itself off of non-renewable sources of energy, which will also enable the country to eliminate the detrimental effects that come from their continuing use.

Love Heals 2016 Gala: The Season Finale

18. Endorsed Kathleen Kane

In 2012, Ruffalo endorsed Kathleen Kane, who was running for the position of Attorney General for the state of Pennsylvania. In part, this was because Kane was opposed to fracking. However, it should also be noted that she had built a significant reputation by insisting on investigating the Jerry Sandusky case as well as the Hershey Trust Company. In the end, she managed to emerge victorious, thus making her not just the first female but also the first Democrat to be elected to that particular post.

Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Joss Whedon With Mark Ruffalo

19. Has Expressed Some Rather Unorthodox Views

Some of Ruffalo’s views can be rather unorthodox. For example, he has suggested that the Zika virus was the result of a British company that had genetically-modified mosquitoes in order to combat dengue fever in Brazil, which was an attempt to control the notoriously difficult-to-manage disease by sterilizing mosquitoes through a new and innovative method. Furthermore, he has provided momentum to 9/11 Truthers by making statements that there should be another investigation as well as suggesting that there are still unanswered questions about the tragedy.

The 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival - Day 4

20. Supported Bernie Sanders

Finally, it is interesting to note that Ruffalo pleaded for Elizabeth Warren to run for president in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. After Elizabeth Warrens stated that she would not be running for the position of president because she could do more good elsewhere, Ruffalo switched his support to Bernie Sanders, who ran a surprisingly competitive campaign against Hilary Clinton in spite of his political baggage before he conceded defeat because of the latter’s overwhelming lead. It remains to be seen whether Ruffalo will switch his support to Clinton, but considering his politic, it seems probable.


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