I meet Mark Ruffalo at a mid-town Toronto hotel to chat about The Avengers not realizing it represented a coming home of sorts for the actor. As we talked about playing the dual role of David Banner and his rage-a-holic alter ego The Hulk I mention one of his first television acting gigs, a guest spot on Due South shot in Hogtown.
“I stayed at this hotel before it was revamped,” he says. “It was pretty low-end back then.”
Judging by the fancy-shmancy Lobster Grilled Cheese on the room service menu the hotel is in better shape these days, and so is Ruffalo’s career. The Oscar nominated actor is about to enjoy his biggest box office stint ever, despite having recently moved his family away from what he calls “the machinery” of Hollywood.
“Sometimes roles reflect where you are in your life,” he says. “This came along and I tried to come up with every reason why I shouldn’t do it, but I was still interested in it.”
He saw a parallel between himself and the character.
“I ran away like Banner. I have this beast that’s inside me that is celebrity and fame.
And this thing I have been on the run from has a tremendous amount of power, which if it is used right could actually have a positive effect in the world. And reach an audience.”
That means making more of the kind of movies Ruffalo specializes in — indie dramas with real characters and situations. In the meantime, however, he has a blockbuster to promote, which involves the drudgery of answering the same questions over and over again.
“The big one,” he says, “which I think has been asked the most is ‘Which superhero power would you have?’ Basically you have a choice between flying and being invisible. Then Scarlett added teleporting, which I thought was a cool one. Now mine is to be able to turn into anything I wanted at any given moment. I could be a river. I could be a cheeseburger with a beautiful girl eating me.”
He doesn’t care much for having to answer those kinds of questions, but would jump at the chance to revisit the Hulk.
“Let’s do Planet Hulk! He won’t let Banner have his body back! There’s this huge existential fight going on. It’s not The Hulk versus the World, it’s the Hulk versus Banner and Banner versus the Hulk inside himself.”