Not only is Mark Ruffalo one of the finest actors working today, he’s also probably the most self-effacing.
The former stage actor’s brand of performance is the kind that too often goes unnoticed. Like a chameleon, Ruffalo inhabits the space of a character to an extent that most don’t recognize the actor beneath. Sure enough, audiences end up showering his costars with recognition instead.
Overdue for some awards recognition of his own, Ruffalo has already punched in two memorable performances this year that could serve as his ticket to the Oscars, with stand-out roles in Zodiac and Reservation Road (which opens this Friday). Ruffalo would rather not play favourites. After some arm twisting he leans towards Zodiac, but not for his own purposes.
“For Dave Toschi,” he explained in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival, referring to the real-life cop whose life was consumed in pursuit of the elusive, titular serial- killer that he portrayed in Zodiac. “It would be nice to win something in honour of him. He was kind enough to open his life up to me for that part. It would be vindicating for him for something like that to happen, because he had a really rough go at it and really poured his life into it.”
Though he has humble reasons for preferring the performance in Zodiac for awards consideration, Ruffalo didn’t want to downplay his impressive turn in director Terry George’s Reservation Road. In it he plays Dwight Arno, a man who accidentally perpetrates a hit-and-run that takes the life of a 10- year-old boy. Dwight spends the rest of the film ducking the child’s vengeful father, Ethan Learner (Joaquin Phoenix).
Though Ruffalo didn’t realize it at first, the film carries some larger post- 9/11 themes. Ethan, the film’s dramatic centre, emulates his country in his preference to seek revenge rather than working towards healing. It’s an aspect of the film that Ruffalo himself finds extremely satisfying, since he’s no stranger to speaking out against such mentalities.
Many noticed the orange ribbon that Ruffalo was sporting on his wrist during his appearances at TIFF. The ribbon represents the actor’s commitment to an organization called World Can’t Wait, which is lobbying for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Though such an imperative may seem like a waste of time with the U.S. elections impending, Ruffalo insists that the “world can’t wait” even until then.
“It just so happens that as time has gone on I’ve gotten more and more frightened by what I’m seeing happen in the world,” Ruffalo explained, “especially with the United States, and the consolidation of power into our executive branch, and the shredding of our constitution. World policies are being put into motion that are highly destructive and could snowball into really ugly stuff.”
“They have their sights on Iran now,” elaborates Ruffalo. “If we attack Iran, I think it’s going to be very hard for China and Russia to stay out of the fray. I’m not sure that at this point in time the way we’re trying to deal with these problems is actually constructive.”
Ruffalo has his convictions, but convincing the American public to notice the dangerous road they tread seems beyond reach, especially for a selfeffacing award-worthy actor who is barely noticed in his own movies. But then again, maybe we should hold our reservations to see what good fortune awaits both Ruffalo and America.
Reservation Road opens everywhere this Friday.
Source: The Varsity