This article is from Issue 58: Jul/Aug 2012

Mark Ruffalo

The writer/director talks gritty faith, Hollywood's impression of Christ and, of course the Hulk

Unlike many actors of his generation, Mark Ruffalo is known for moving easily between big-budget crowd-pleasers (The Avengers) and smaller, more thoughtful films (Sympathy for Delicious). We talked to the versatile actor about faith and film.

QOne of your most recent films is your directorial debut, Sympathy for Delicious. It has the theme of a faith struggle, but it's pretty gritty and dark. Why doesn't Hollywood have as many films that maintain that type of balance?

A I think they’re afraid. To have a really honest conversation about faith today is taboo in a way. You want to clear a room quickly? Start talking about God. For better or for worse, it’s a taboo conversation. There’s a lot of hangups, and people, I think, have a lot of negative connotations that are attached to it ... We’re in a market- driven culture. I think they’re afraid that there is no market in these kind of stories.

Q Do you think Hollywood is more afraid of making those kinds of movies, or are Christians too afraid to see them?

A Hollywood is afraid to make a movie that no one is going to see. That is based, on some regard, on assumptions but also on a certain kind of reality. There are certain coarse realities about faith, real street-level faith. We don’t want to look at it because it’s ugly to us, but it’s where there is a lot of grace. If we are who we say we are, then we have to engage in those

QYou've played everything from a priest to the Hulk. How do you, as an actor, live in the tension between being entertaining and being meaningful?

A I love acting, and I love the art of story- telling, and I try to find meaning in it in all of the forms that I do it in. I care about what I do. There’s not a lot of tension between the two. I know the moment when I’m like, “I need to go do a little gritty independent. ” Or, “I just want to do something that’s pure entertainment now. I’ve been in the dark for a long time. I want to come into something lighter.”

QIs it a challenge to play other people and return to your authentic self?

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